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“What If” Speculation is an Effective Negotiation Tactic

If your real estate negotiation seems to have stalled out, asking questions can re-engage the opposing agent and move the negotiation further along. Asking speculative questions – “what if” or “suppose” questions – is an effective negotiation technique to explore options or alternatives that could lead to agreement.

When using speculative questions, ask about hypothetical or theoretical situations without making commitments or forcing a direction. Use the what if technique to brainstorm possible ways to get around an issue or stumbling block. With just suppose types of questions, you can offer a solution for the opposing agent to consider without actually committing your client to that action. For example, “What if my buyer would go to $295,000? Would your seller consider that price?” Notice you did not commit your buyer and you did not ask the listing agent to commit the seller. You are just trying to determine if a specific option is worth pursuing or not.

If the opposing agent is asking speculative questions of you, listen to see if they are including any facts or real compromises that might be used to for a successful negotiation outcome. If not, then counter by asking specific questions that require concrete answers such as, “Why is that important?” You might also simply call the agent’s bluff with, “Please offer some concrete proposals; we are out of time.”