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Negotiations are familiar to people in the real estate, because no two properties are identical and because the market for real estate is “illiquid”. So, the current “market price” of a property is defined less clearly or less precisely than, say, the price of one share of Apple or a barrel of oil. Skill can move the final price (by a little or a lot, depending on …) but it is hard to learn to negotiate skillfully in any particular situation. With that in mind, this short post contains some suggestions for you to start your new year.

1/ It is important to know that experience comes in many forms.

2/ If you expect to negotiate frequently, experience needs to be matched with insight. Lots of people offer advice but, in my opinion, a lot of it is junk for two reasons: the advice is too vague to be useful (i.e. often based on good intentions and not a realistic understanding of the situation or the person on the other side of the table) or it is about tactics (which are cute, surprising and work sometimes). In my opinion, one of the more interesting sources of quick advice is contained in the podcasts issued by Slate’s Negotiation Academy.

3/ In a business dominated by long term relationships, such as real estate, trust is important and trying to get an edge by using cute tactical tricks can backfire. There are alternatives, and many people have spent much time and energy to study those better alternatives. There is a real benefit to being able to negotiate effectively for your own benefit in a way which does not cause the person on the other side of the table to walk away from a good deal. This kind of strategic perspective on negotiating is sometimes overlooked. In my opinion, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School offers this kind of perspective, and lots of free advice (if you do not want to pay to attend one of their workshops).

And, since it is that time of the year, they offered a Top Ten List (of the best negotiations).  This list should give you some perspective if you think that you are having a problem in your negotiations.

Happy New Year from all of us at GREG.