walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Women and negotiation, redux: the real estate edition

When we were buying the house we now live in, it and the house next door to it were for sale, new. They'd been built but then the bust hit and work had slowed to an absolute crawl. The price had come down a ways and the last finishes that had been done already were cheap shit -- the dishwasher, in particular, was awful. They hadn't done the floors yet, so we paid for wood on the second floor and better carpet on the third, and a plumbing fixture upgrade. The fridge we bought ourselves.

Anyway. I don't recall negotiating on the price of the house at all. The house met all our of have-to-haves, and was well within our price range. I'm not the sort to try to nibble at the margins. When I get what I want, I close the deal. And then all kinds of entertaining things started happening. In particular, we got all kinds of gossip volunteered about previous offers on the house (few) which were _insanely_ low. They'd been rebuffed, obvs (these were hoped to be close to a million dollar house when speced in 2006-7, and came in a lot lower than that, but the offers were in the 500K range, which was just loony), and it was clear that the builders/sellers had taken some real emotional damage by receiving that offer/those offers. They were confused and their confidence -- already rattled by wondering about how they were going to survive the bust -- shaken. It was one of those moments where I gloat about the weird shit you gain when you treat people well in a transaction.

Fast forward some months, maybe a year or so, and we're chatting with our neighbors WHO WE LOVE. They are great people, we share a lot of the same values, they are easy to get along with and their kids are sweet. And it turns out that the crazy low ball offer was put in by friends of theirs who were looking, but not seriously at that house, to sort of test the waters. A clever ploy, and our neighbors did manage to get a better deal on price for what is a very similar house to ours. I'm not 100% certain, but I'm about 3/4s sure that the instigators on this idea were the women of the two couples involved, not the men. Altho the men seemed perfectly okay with it, too.

R. and I talked about that whole thing for a while. I'm not sure if we can to any sort of conclusion, other than that was not the sort of thing we would do.

Rewinding a ways, when I bought my condo on cap hill, I again found a place that was more or less in my price range (a little high for me, but I could easily get the loan; I had pre-qualed) and had all my have-to-haves. At the time, I thought I was buying and boyfriend would be living with me and paying rent, so I put in a rider that he had to okay it on my offer -- which my agent was _not_ happy about. I also offered about 10% less than what they were asking. I was offering _after_ the agents' showing but before the unit was listed on MLS. My agent didn't like any of what I was putting in the conditions, not the price, not the boyfriend okay (which was stupid anyway, he decided he wanted to get his own place and didn't tell me until after the deal was signed). All of this was in 1997, IIRC, if you were in the market at the time, a lot of people thought it was nearing the end of its run but of course it really, really, really wasn't. I got what I wanted; everyone was happy.

A lot of commentary about women and negotiation misses what I believe are really important aspects of negotiation. If you construe negotiation as the back and forth at the offer counteroffer stages, you may miss things that happened _before_ the offer counteroffer stages (definition of what was wanted; preparing the ground with a separate insane lowball offer to make a later lowball offer seem worth accepting). And a person who _doesn't_ counteroffer but takes an initial offer isn't necessarily doing so out of fear of asking for more. If you got everything you were looking for, you're an idiot if you dick around and lose what you were trying to get.
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