People usually think of real estate as buying and selling, with an emphasis on the selling. After all, if there’s a buyer, there’s a seller. Yet a critical part of the sales process is often left out of the training of agents: negotiation.

Anyone who has been in sales knows it’s more than a matter of getting someone to pay a certain price for something. Sales is a matter of back and forth, of give and take, of ensuring both the buyer and the seller walk away satisfied. This need to feel satisfied with the outcome is even more important when selling homes in which people are emotionally invested. So why don’t we pay more attention to this when training real estate agents?

Even if your agents didn’t come to your brokerage well versed in negotiation techniques, they can always learn them. And they should.

Why real estate negotiation skills matter
When real estate agents know, practice and continually improve upon their negotiation skills, everyone wins. Clients win by increasing the likelihood of getting the deal they wanted. Agents win by serving their clients better. Above all, your brokerage wins, because:

  • Improved negotiation skills can speed up the sales cycle, so you see the profits sooner.
  • A good negotiator can increase the value of a sale and therefore benefit the brokerage.
  • Clients are happier when they feel like they got a good deal, and that leads to more referrals for your brokerage.

Training your agents in the art of negotiation can only bring benefits to your brokerage, and you don’t have to send them off to some expensive training course to bring about the change. You can start right here, with these five real estate negotiation tips you can share with your agents to help them become better negotiators…and your brokerage a bigger business.

Tip 1: Be prepared
The best negotiations happen when everyone is prepared. For your agents, that means doing plenty of research upfront to know all of the ins and outs of a property and the buyers or sellers. But it also means your agents need to have in-depth discussions with their clients about what they will and won’t compromise on, how they want to rank or prioritize their conditions, and what to expect during the negotiations. The more information your agents can arm themselves with, the better prepared they will be.

Tip 2: Be kind
When your agents show up to negotiate with an open and respectful demeanor, they will set the stage for success right from the start. Some negotiation experts even suggest sharing information to get the other party to be willing to share in turn. This doesn’t have to mean sharing details about the negotiation. It could be something personal, like telling a story about one’s children, for example. The idea here is that sharing results in reciprocal sharing, and that can pave the way for more give and take during the negotiations.

Tip 3: Be first
This tip might surprise you, but negotiation experts say if you’re the first one to put an offer on the table, you have an advantage because you’ve now “anchored” the discussion around that number. It might seem more like giving away an advantage, but psychologically, it’s the opposite and you’re gaining an advantage by determining the starting price for the negotiations.

Tip 4: Be flexible
Your agents must go into the negotiations knowing where they have give and take (which they will learn with tip 1). It’s important that both buyers and sellers walk away feeling like they got something they wanted. Teach your agents that the back and forth is not only okay but should be expected, and that they should prepare their clients for that as well.

Tip 5: Be encouraging
Finally, encourage them to keep learning. Maybe host occasional practice sessions in the office, so your agents can try out these ideas with some role play. And they can learn on their own too. Articles and videos teaching negotiation skills can easily be found on the Internet. Maybe assign your agents to spend 15 minutes each week learning a little more about the art of negotiating. That way they can find a style that works for them and learn at their own pace…and still be learning, getting better all the time.