5. Skipping the face time. Instead of handling the negotiation process by phone and fax, it's important to meet the seller in person. "The most effective way to influence or persuade—which is what negotiation is all about—is to do it face to face," says Tom Hayman, the president of Negotiation Expertise, which trains people in negotiation techniques. "Because then you get your words, you get your voice, and you get body language—or nonverbals—all into the equation." If the transaction is being handled by real estate agents, the sellers should request that their agent get together with the buyer's agent in person to discuss the prices. If your agent is unwilling to do so, he might not be the right agent for you. "A buyer should be looking for an agent who is going to do that kind of effort for them, because it always pays off better when it's face to face," Hayman says. (Buyers using agents should be aware that their agent gets a bigger commission on a higher sale price and therefore may have less of an incentive to push for a lower price tag.)
6. Offering a specific number. When extending an initial offer, present a range of figures—say, from $420,000 to $450,000—rather than a hard number. An offer of a specific number that is considered too low could upset the seller enough to derail the negotiations altogether, says Cohen. A price range, however, affords you more flexibility. "In negotiating, you don't want to adopt a position where you paint yourself into a corner," Cohen says. "Because the only way you can get out of the corner is to lose face and perhaps lose a few bucks."
7. Getting caught up in the game. Remember, your goal is to purchase a home—not beat the seller. "People often get so enmeshed in the negotiation game that they lose the house they like and could afford because they didn't get the negotiation price they thought they could get," says Daniel Shapiro, associate director of the Harvard Negotiation Project and coauthor of Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate. So what if the seller doesn't bring the price down as much as you had hoped? If you really like the house, the price has been reduced enough to fit your budget, and you've given the negotiation process your best shot, consider declaring victory. "I hear a lot of situations where real estate deals fail because one side or the other refuses to come down another $5,000," Brodow says. "They don't want to give in, and then it becomes an ego thing."