Negotiating Contingencies

Many people fancy themselves as negotiating dynamos. "I can sell an ice box to an Eskimo," they'll say. Well, outdated ethnic aphorisms aside, many people go about the negotiating process all wrong.

First of all they see it as a zero sum game. That is to say that if one party manages to win then the other party loses. Secondly, people feel they need to be tough and "not give an inch". This too is a fallacy.

Then you are negotiating the contingencies in a contract for your new home, try and keep the following in mind. Chances are you'll get a better deal on your home, and you won't have to resort to being a jerk.

The Six Steps Success

Negotiating is a process not an event. It will take place over time, and over time peoples moods and attitudes change. Be prepared to take your time and make sure that everything is done right. Don't just make a decision to keep things moving. If you do, they will keep moving in the wrong direction. You've heard the expression: "I lost the battle, but won the war." This describes negotiating. You may concede and concede and concede, but through this giving of an inch, you'll be able to take a mile. With that said, do not be subservient. Know the power that you have. If you had nothing to offer, changes are they wouldn't be talking to you. Make sure this comes through in your tone of voice and your body language. Information is power. This is especially true in home negotiations. Research the history of the home and the property. Know what the seller does for a living as well. If you can surprise them with information they didn't think you knew, they will automatically assume that you know other things and you just haven't let on yet. Come up with a best case and worse case scenario. Know hoe much you are willing to concede and make sure you do not go below that point. Also, having a best case scenario gives you something to shoot for and prevents you from blowing the whole deal by getting greedy. Elaboration is also a great tool. Don't just tell them what you want, explain to them what will happen if you don't get it. Paint a picture. Know the rule of reciprocity. If you concede a point, you should get something of equal value in return. Don't be shy to remind them that you made a concession. The seller may have gotten got up in what they though was good luck. It's also harder to say no to a request if they have just been granted one.

Win-Win Negotiations

Nobody wants to walk away from a negotiating table feeling like they were hustled. It's not good business and it's just not good human behavior to swindle someone. Obviously then, both sides should come out of the negotiation with a feeling that they got what they wanted, and believe it or not this is possible.

While the above six steps are the blueprint for negotiations in general. The five steps below are a kindler gentler more civilized approach to negotiations that is sure to put you on a path to getting what you want. Of course if the person you are negotiating with is wicked, there isn't much you can do.

Get to know the other side before you begin the negotiation. Talk with them over food or drinks and engage in small talk. Know who they are and how they respond to things before you start making demands. Share your objectives. Listen to what they want and tell them what you want. This way both sides will have a better idea of when a compromise can be reached. If you have no idea what the other side wants you won't know when to give-up and when to press on. Prioritize your concerns. Let the seller know what concerns are the most important. If you give each concern equal weight, the seller will feel like they are up against an immovable wall of pettiness. Expect that the negotiations will evolve. You need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances over the course of the negotiations. Be sure to keep everything in writing. If there is a disagreement you could spend hours debate who said what. If it is all on paper, you'll be able to settle the issue quickly and painlessly. Remember you are striving for a win-win negotiation. Strategy

Beyond these simple tips there are larger negotiation strategies that are used by everyone from politicians to car mechanics. They should give you an idea of how to act and reacted in a general way. Of course not every strategy works for every person so you'll need to score a balance between your talents and the abilities and character of whom you are negotiating with.

Fait Accompli

While not conducive to the win-win strategy, it may just work if the person you are negotiating with is desperate to sell. Essential with this strategy is that you make no concessions and not budge and inch. It is intimidating enough to occasionally work.

Standard Practice

If you have done your homework you can try and use this one. It basically works if you claim that what you are suggesting id "just how things are normally done". If you are dealing with a neophyte this might work, but if you come up against an expert you will just anger them.


Setting a deadline is a great way to make sure that the other party doesn't monkey around. They will be unlikely to try and wear you down if they no you will walk aay at a certain time. It also often leads to a last second mad dash. If you are crafty you can make this scramble for in your favor.


The other side is bound to try and leverage what they know is important against you. That's why you make smaller things seem bigger and vice versa. For instance, if a new roof is a big deal, and new deck is not, claim that the deck is a deal breaker. When you finally concede at the last minute, they'll be thankful they only had to offer a new roof.


This one is easy enough to understand. Simply claim that you will walk away if you do not get your way on a certain point. This strategy is very risky (and very childish). It should never be used in conjunction with the decoy strategy.

Good cop/Bad cop

This works well with a husband and wife team. One spouse can be very set on the home, giving the seller hope, while the other can be unsure, thus eliciting compromise. This strategy also sets the tone of compromise, which is where you'll need to be throughout the negotiation phase.

Limit Authority

This also works with the husband and wife team. Make sure that only one of you shows up for the negotiation, then claim that you can't make certain concessions without your partner.

Salami Technique

Don't try to steal the whole thing at once. Slowly whittle away at the seller until you have gotten what you need. If they only make small concessions over time, they won't feel like they were swindled.