How to Negotiate With an Unreasonable Home Seller


|10 min read

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Get real advice from FastExpert partner and Realtor, DeAngela Hudson, on all the ins and outs of negotiating when selling a home. Learn how to successfully navigate the tricky waters of negotiating with an unreasonable seller.

What is an Unreasonable Home Seller?

All home sellers bring expectations and emotion to the table. Home seller expectations may include the list price, how quickly the home will sell, and the conduct of the real estate agent. In addition, home sellers’ emotions may be a mix of sadness because they’re leaving behind memories and excitement about what’s next. Nerves will most certainly be a part of the real estate transaction. Oftentimes, these expectations and emotions collide with the reality of selling the home and result in difficult negotiations with a home seller.

In addition, most home sellers watch the news, talk with their friends, or surf the internet to educate themselves on the real estate market before they decide to engage a real estate broker. We are in the age of technology where everyone can reach into their pocket, ask a question, and receive an answer in milliseconds.

While gathering information is important, it can work for and against a seller. Misinterpretation of information or misguided advice can result in difficult negotiations with a home seller. As a home seller, it’s essential to hire a real estate agent that you trust and allow the agent to work on your behalf.

Even with the best real estate agent, home selling can get sticky. So, let’s take a look at what to do when negotiations with a home seller become challenging.

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When Do Negotiations With a Home Seller Start?

Home Sellers

If you are representing the home seller, negotiating with a seller starts before the listing appointment. It is important to set the stage and make the seller feel comfortable so that they will allow you to handle every aspect of the transaction.

Pricing is always the number one area that requires initial negotiation with a seller. Educating the seller with market research and data to support the recommended price range is essential. Even a reasonable seller may have objections to this range. Nobody wants to leave money on the table for their precious investment. Once the price is established, the first negotiation is a success!

Home Buyers

If you are representing the home buyer, the negotiations with a home seller start when the offer is made. Sometimes, the home seller takes an offer personally. It is the responsibility of the buyer’s agent to navigate the negotiations. If the home seller is offended or becomes unreasonable, it is essential for the buyer to keep their cool and use some of the tactics below to keep the conversation moving in a positive direction.

How Do Personality Types Influence Negotiations with a Home Seller?

We all approach negotiations, conflict, and business transactions with differing mindsets. Some prefer to avoid conflict at all costs, while others lean into it and thrive. The personality type of both the home seller and the real estate agents involved will impact the negotiations when home selling.

It’s essential to keep in mind the heightened emotions when it comes to real estate transactions. Whether the home seller is driven to make the most profit or resists moving because of the memories in the home, a variety of factors can turn peaceful talks into unreasonable negotiations with a home seller.

Additionally, personality type will influence how the home seller handles the enhanced stress. Therefore, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of personalities and the best ways to have productive conversations with each type.

While there are many personality tests, the DiSC personality test provides four main personality profiles: (D)dominance, (i)influence, (S)steadiness, and (C)conscientiousness. Let’s take a look at each of these, see how negotiations may play out, and provide some helpful tips for moving the conversation forward.

Negotiating with a Dominant Personality Type

Dominant personalities are very bottom-line focused.

Standing your ground will go a long way when these sellers become unreasonable. If they are too firm, walk away from the conversation and never give in to their demands too easily. If you need to walk away, challenge both the seller and yourself to come up with a better solution.

In negotiations, use phrases like:

“I understand your goal, but I can only accept…”

“We can both likely do a little better”

“We seem to be aligned toward…”

These personality types are usually risk-takers, so we may list (just slightly) outside of the suggested range with a clause within our agreement that allows for price evaluations and reductions as needed. This may be hard for the unreasonable, dominant seller to accept (they’re used to winning); however, it’s a negotiation strategy.

If I’m bending on the numbers backed by my research, the seller needs to bend on not pressing on doing it their way once the market responds and tells us that their home is overpriced.

Negotiating with an Influential Personality Type

A more influential personality type is all about being liked and are more outgoing. Personally, these are the easiest personality types to negotiate with because they like to “feel good.”

My strategy for dealing with unreasonable sellers with these personalities is to tell stories of successful and unsuccessful sellers. It’s important to maintain positive energy and momentum. These sellers need their broker to be the leader and make suggestions.

Use influential phrases such as:

“How would you feel about…”

“I’m ready to move on this now”

“Someone was in a similar position and did this…”

That last phrase is especially powerful because one of the ways our clients learn is through storytelling, especially with this personality type.

Another thing to watch out for with unreasonable sellers with an influential personality type is that they tend to lean towards passive aggressiveness. Since their priority is remaining optimistic, they may not directly voice their concern and instead will talk around the issue.

These personality types are big feelers. Ask them direct questions with lots of warmth to help them feel more comfortable opening up about their concern. Hearing how others acted in similar situations is usually more than enough to get these personalities moving toward a successful sale.

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Negotiating with a Steady Personality Type

The next personality is steady. People with this personality are thoughtful and security-oriented. They will become unreasonable when you don’t show them enough about your skill set or the data to back up your recommendations.

They will show their unreasonableness by taking time to think through their decision. These sellers don’t operate in their feelings. They are your numbers people and like data, lots and lots of data!

It’s best to allow them to share their concerns fully (without interruptions). Then, present evidence of your abilities (reviews of past clients and selling statistics). Most importantly, let them take the time they need to think their way through making a decision.

Since this is real estate, time is always of the essence. Determine if it is appropriate to provide a deadline for a decision. However, it’s important to give them the time they need. Oftentimes pushing for a quick decision can backfire.

If the real estate transaction necessitates a speedy decision, it’s essential to be upfront. Empower the home seller by providing detailed information and be prepared for questions. Discuss the home seller’s specific concerns and allow them to speak instead of suggesting possible concerns.

Sometimes it’s helpful for a trusted friend or loved one to help the home seller through the decision-making process. A steady personality operates out of sincerity, loyalty, and dependability. Therefore, it’s important to reinforce the stability of the home-selling process so that they feel safe and secure.

Helpful phrases when talking to a steady personality are:

“How do you feel about…?”

“Based on what we’ve talked about…”

“What information can I provide so that you are comfortable making a decision?”

The most important thing you can do with an unreasonable seller who has a steady personality is to build trust and rapport.

Negotiating with a Conscientious Personality Type

The last personality you’ll encounter is conscientious. These personalities are very detail-focused. They want to know the play-by-play of every decision.

You’ll be able to identify them because they are the clients who want to read every line of your marketing plan. In addition, the conscientious personality will want justification for the comparable houses and a detailed analysis of the list price.

Negotiating with this personality comes before the meeting. Not only is it important for you to be thoroughly prepared, but it is also important that the home seller feels prepared. Prior to meeting, send them information to review. If you can provide sources or additional resources, this can be beneficial. The conscientious home seller feels comfortable when they have more knowledge and detail than what is actually required.

In negotiations with this seller, it’s important to communicate in a business-like, fact-based way. There are no details too small. These personality types are also likely to be your most unreasonable sellers because they’re naturally skeptical.

Bring outside data such as Case-Shiller Reports or Market Absorption Data.

Helpful phrases in negotiations are:

“My expectations are…”

“Let’s clear up any ambiguity”

“Here’s what the market looks like for this right now”

If you lean into your data genius side and provide details, research, and the step-by-step real estate process, the conscientious personality will feel empowered to accurately make a decision.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to negotiate with an unreasonable home seller can go a long way in smoothing tension and moving forward positively. Remember, it can be a very personal experience for the home seller, but it’s important not to take their statements personally. Step back, focus on the goal, and advocate for the best solution.

Most importantly, hire a trusted real estate agent who will have your back and be able to negotiate for a successful outcome!

DeAngela Hudson Keller Williams Realty Atlanta North

DeAngela is a real estate broker servicing Metro Atlanta. Her passion is in helping people build generational wealth through real estate. She grew up in Stone Mountain and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. In her free time, she enjoys Pilates, traveling, and spending time with her family.

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