Talking Disparagingly About My Property Makes Me Think You Don't Want It

Having sold plenty of items in my life, I am aware that pointing out an item's faults, whether that item is a car, a house, a piece of furniture, etc, is a tried and true negotiating tool used for the purpose of diminishing the value in the eyes of a seller and ultimately bringing the asking price down.

However, there is a fine line between having a courteous and honest discussion about a property's condition and being so obnoxious as to back the seller into a corner to where they feel so "broken" that they must acquiesce against their will.

An example - several years ago when I was living in Phoenix I had my car for sale for $1,000.  A guy from the neighborhood made an appointment to see the car, came over, and proceeded to bad-mouth every single aspect of my car.  I had kept it impeccably maintained, and I knew it was a good car for the price.  Yet this person made me feel so bad, basically saying it was such a crappy car that I would be lucky to get $700 for it.  Then he said he wanted it for $700.  I reluctantly said "Okay"; inside, I was perplexed because he had just finished telling me in not-so-nice terms that my car was a P.O.S. He arranged to come by in the morning with the cash.

Later on that afternoon, as I was sitting on the porch, this other guy is walking down the street and sees my "For Sale" sign on the car.  He stops and talks to me, looks under the hood for a few minutes and says, "This car looks pretty good-no air conditioning for Arizona but I can deal with that, how much do you want for it?" I told him I was asking $1,000 but that I would take $950.  He says, "We've got a deal! I'll go get my money".  He was back within an hour, we did the paperwork and he took off in his new car.

Guess who's not a happy camper the next morning?  The mean guy pounding on my door with $700 asking where his car is.  I looked at him and said, "I'm sorry but someone offered me more.  Besides, with all of the 'problems' my car had, I'm surprised you still wanted it".

Now, I am expecting to get blasted for that story, because I did not keep my word with the first guy.  But to be honest, if the second guy had offered me $700 I would have sold it to him instead because he treated my little car and I with respect. 

There's a right way and a wrong way to negotiate.  I appreciate that the idea is to not exude any emotional attachment to an item. However, if your idea of negotiating is using a belittling tone and going over the top with disparaging comments about the item you are wanting to purchase, the only thing you will accomplish is to tick me off and make me not want to sell it to you.

When I was selling my business a few years ago, the best thing the selling agent said to me was, "I know you want x, but it's just not worth that much".   He said it in an honest, caring tone and he was right.  We came back down to reality, sold the business and never looked back.  If he would've started bashing the very business that we had worked so hard to create, I would've chosen any alternative to selling it to his buyers.  But then that's just me, I'm stubborn that way.


Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Comment balloon 26 commentsLisa Bosques • February 08 2010 11:48AM


Hey, Lisa. I am glad to hear that you didn't see your car to the 1st guy. Good post, Jim

Posted by Jim & Maria Hart, Charleston, SC Real Estate (Brand Name Real Estate) over 10 years ago

Thanks Jim, I like to think that fate intervened on that one!

Posted by Lisa Bosques over 10 years ago

Lisa, there's a fine line between talking down about a property and negotiating. Most homes have some issues that need resolved but that's no reason to trash talk it.

Posted by Betty Knowles, TeamKnowles REALTORS® - Springfield MO Real Estate (Southwest Missouri Realty - over 10 years ago

I agree, Team Knowles - I think an honest, open discussion is fine.  Some sellers can't handle the truth but all you can do is lay it out in a respectful way.  Like you said, there's no reason for trash talk.

Posted by Lisa Bosques over 10 years ago


Some feel that downgrading a property is negotiating, perhaps they watch too many movies!


Posted by Ty Lacroix (Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc) over 10 years ago

Hi Lisa,  Interesting topic.  The old strategy of trashing the product or service never was the right way to enter into negotiations !

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) over 10 years ago


Excellent post, it is the custom in some cultures to bring the whole family to view a home, and each one takes a part of the house and focuses on everything that is wrong to get the price down..we encountered this type of "buying" behavior.  We would alert them, by telling them to enjoy themselves, but the bottom line, we were not going to negotiate, period.  It is all in a day's work.

Posted by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy (Napa Consultants) over 10 years ago

I love this post and the analogy to our business!! You'll get no bashing from me for selling it out from under the mean guy especially since you made more money on the deal. I'm curious though....what if the mean guy had offered MORE than the nice gentleman? Who would you have sold it to then? :-)

Posted by Dan Cronin over 10 years ago

In real estate, we have buyers agents that are there to effectively negotiate the sale.  A successful buyers agent will have the earned the respect of the listing agent before they start to negotiate on behalf of their respective clients. 

If a client of mine started to rip apart a home and then still want to make an offer, I'd have to question his motivation.

Posted by Martin Kalisker, Professional Standards & Legal Assistant (Greater Boston Association of REALTORS) over 10 years ago

Lisa, great post. I'm the same way and recently sold an older car & had the same perplexing results from a prospective buyer. Told him, no way would I sell it to him that I would donate it. Surprised look I'll tell ya on his face!  We also had a similiar circumstance with a kitchen set on CraigsList.  One lady was still haggling with me on the phone about the price as the 'new owners' were putting it into their SUV happy as can be!

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 10 years ago

When we bought our van a few years ago, we had to sign the finally docs with the office manager. He started trying to sell us the extra warranty coverage, then proceeded to tell us all the things that would go wrong with this van electronically, and if we didn't buy the extra coverage, we would be out a lot of money. We looked at each other then turned to the man and asked him, "So what you are saying is that we are buying a POS?" He dropped the sales pitch after that and finished our paperwork so he could get us out the door.  In any sale, the way you present determines the outcome.

Posted by Jennifer Kirby, The Luxury Agent (Kirby Fine Homes) over 10 years ago

Always be agreeable.  No need to insult people, especially their homes.  Agree that they have a really nice home but for whatever reason, you can only offer them so much.  If they can make that work, fine. If not, just wish them luck.  Always leave the door open.   

Posted by Tim Maitski, Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal (Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage) over 10 years ago

Lisa--My partner and I were just having this discussion yesterday.  We know it's a strategy that's been used many times over the years, but since it's been used for so many years and the buyer is still coming back for it, then it can't be all bad right?  Why not adopt a win/win attitude?  As Tim mentioned, leave the door open.  If it's more than you want or can pay, play it straight, let the seller know.  Many times, all will walk away happy.

Posted by Tamara Perlman (Referral Network Inc.) over 10 years ago

I agree - some people think being mean is negotiating. I much prefer to soften them up with niceness, then a little twist at the right point to get what I want!

Posted by Joetta Fort, Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder (The DiGiorgio Group) over 10 years ago

Many years ago when we presented offers in person, my buyer gave me a laundry list of reasons why this offer was low.  I dutifully read the list and then the listing agent had me sit outside the office (we presented in the listing office) while she spoke with her seller.

She came back and told me that he would have accepted the offer without the disparaging remarks about his home.  She was in there trying to calm the seller down as he was offended.  The offer was accepted but the seller was left unhappy.

I wasn't new in the business but that particular presentation made me think twice about passing on buyer's negative remarks.  Normally with today's buyers, the negative remarks are mainly cosmetic items and simply the buyer's taste and preference.  I know a seller would come back with something like, "too bad - I'm not changing that" and why stir the pot? 

What I have used (and recently did), was comps if I think a home is overpriced.  I explain that the property will very likely not appraise.  I just closed on a property with happy buyers where I got a huge reduction and the home was only on the market a couple of weeks.  But it was overpriced and I only sent one comp (a very similar home) to prove my point.  I didn't have to say anything else negative.

Posted by Judy Orr, SW & Near West Chicago suburbs (HomeSmart Realty Group) over 10 years ago

Dan - You got me.:) I would have rooted for and negotiated with the second guy as long as I could...and if it was a minimal difference, perhaps I still would've sold it to the second guy...though who's to say, I really needed the money back then to get a new car!

Ty - if people put themselves in the seller's shoes for a moment they would hopefully tone it down a bit.

Bill - it certainly doesn't get things started on the right foot!

Ron & Alexandra - I've experienced that and it's not fun.  I understand the desire to want to get the price down, but some things won't change the value anyway.  It is indeed all in a day's work!

Synergy - You've hit upon the motivation for my post.:)

Lyn - That's funny- some people just don't get it!

Jennifer - "Your presentation determines the outcome" - that is very true. I've experienced the same thing, and it seems that retailers are at odds with having to promote how wonderful their product is and also having to sell profitable add-ons like warranties, which sends a mixed message.

Tim - I agree.  I think it's fine to point out or ask about defects of course, but to nitpick play games, insult, etc and then get offended when sellers don't play along does not create goodwill.


Posted by Lisa Bosques over 10 years ago

Good post Lisa,

Recently I was privy to a conversation on the saying "Buyers are liars" and why. One of the comments was that "it's just human nature to lie (or bully?) when you believe that it is benificial for you to do so."

That may be so, but as you've illustrated, they may benefit more by revising their viewpoint!

Thank you for bringing it up.

Posted by Marian Lake Walker, Home Stager Florida, Home Staging Central Florida (Staged 2Gain) over 10 years ago

I have not had this problem with buyer's agents.  I have had this problem with visitors to open houses.  In certain areas, it is a chronic problem.  A few years ago, I was working a property in Olivette, MO.  The home was about 5 years old and priced at $525k.  A couple walked in one Sunday afternoon.  Of course, I introduced myself and the visitors said, "Yea."  (Happens all the time in certain parts of town.)  Husband and wife split up, with the husband staying downstairs with me.  He rubbernecked the house, told me this was cheap, this was junk, that came from Home Depot for $25, etc.  The wife was upstairs checking the bedrooms, when the husband said in a loud voice, "I wouldn't give no $500,000 for this place.  It ain't worth no more than $375k."  I responded by letting them know that the seller had already turned down $475k.  Both people let out a loud "whooooo!  I would've taken that and run."  The house ultimately sold for the list of $525k.

There you go.  I see this buying technique, if you will, so often that it has become laughable.  People who practice this method are rarely serious buyers. They assume that the agent is a complete weak sister and that the agent actually can dictate the sales price of a listing.  I am not a weak sister and I do not have ultimate control over a sales price.  What's more, if I had said, "Well ok, if you're ready with $375k, let's sit down and write,"  they probably would have run back to their car and peeled out onto the road.

So, this is an intimidation technique.  It can't work if you don't let it.  You're not doing your sellers a favor by taking people like this seriously.  Just say to them that this just isn't the house for you.  Then let them move on.


Posted by Robert Schneider (Blue Ribbon, Realtors) over 10 years ago

I sold one of my cars a couple of years ago and had a prospective buyer do the same thing to my car.  He even told me the tires were rotted, LOL!  He also made me some lowball offer, and I got into my other car and left.  Don't waste my time, people!  It was still a good car with a lot of miles left in it, and I sold it a few weeks later for several hundred dollars more.  Trashing a property while you're making an offer on it is counterintuitive.  Do you want to buy it or not?

Posted by Nicole Donaghy, Helping Families Home in Lexington and Columbia (Re/Max Purpose Driven) over 10 years ago

Now that you have read this post and all the comments, you realize that negotiating techniques vary with the negotiator.  Now you can recognize the techniques and use them to your advantage. If you let a "shark" upset you then he has gained an advantage -- or maybe you have gained the advantage if it does not bother you. 

I never get upset when someone offers me money. It may not be enough to get the job done, but I appreciate the offer.

Akron, Ohio

Posted by Thomas McCombs (Century 21 HomeStar) over 10 years ago

Trashing isn't negotiating, but then again, many people negotiate by what they see done on the sit-coms.

Posted by Gary Steuernagel ASSOC. BROKER, ABR, CRB (Keller Williams Southwest) over 10 years ago

Lisa, this is a great post. You did the right thing. Its great to hear from someone local. Keep up the good work. If you are coming through Renton come by the Keller Williams office.


Posted by Robby Leviton, Knowles Team (Keller Williams Realty) over 10 years ago

Throwing the garbage on the lawn (so to speak) is a tactic I don’t care for.  I’ve often found that calling the other party on it can be effective in eliminating this tactic, but there are those that think it’s the best way to get what they want.  The best deals are the ones that close, and I have yet to close a deal with a “garbage thrower”.  Maybe this is because I believe in negotiating there needs to be something on the table for everyone.  “Garbage throwers” tend to want it all for them selves.

Posted by Richard van Seenus, Best SB Agent (Van Seenus Partners) over 10 years ago

Some people feel they need to be bullies to get what they want. A little honest honey never hurts.

Posted by Beverly of Bev & Bob Meaux, Where Buying & Selling Works (Keller Williams Suburban Realty) over 10 years ago

Lisa, great post.  I have agents call me all the time about some of my lower end listings and start pointing out the flaws to my $15,000 listing.  Don't they realize that we are fully aware of the flaws, and THAT'S WHY it's listed for $15k, and not $50k or $500k? 

Posted by Matt Robinson, (Professional Investors Guild) over 10 years ago

Great story, Lisa! Whenever I submit an offer, I always let the listing agent know that my buyers actually like the property, even if they're investors making a "lowball" offer. I don't bring up any negatives, and I try to respect the seller's feelings.



Posted by Robin Rogers, CRS, TRC, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser (Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas) about 10 years ago

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