Are you selling your stuff? Don’t fall for these 5 negotiating tricks


    Photo by Daniel M Ernst /

    You can almost smell it in the air. The sales season is here. This is the time of year when people start liquidating piles of things that have accumulated in their basements, garages, and storage rooms.

    Selling season means negotiating season. After nearly three decades of buying and selling vintage merchandise, I’ve seen every negotiating strategy in the book – some innocent, some insidious.

    If you are selling at a yard sale, property sale, or in person on the Facebook marketplace, take a minute to catch up on the latest methods of fraudulent thickening. Don’t fall for these negotiating ploys.

    1. Fake disappointment

    It is inevitable. Despite your detailed item description and clear photos, some buyers will arrive and act surprised and easily disappointed.

    Look for reactions like, “Oh, it looked a lot bigger (or smaller, or newer) in the photos.” Or: “I just don’t think color will work in my room.”

    These statements are usually followed by a low ball offer that begins, “I think I might take it off your hands for …”

    Sure, some buyers can authentically be disappointed at times. As a negotiating trick, deceiving disappointments can be an effective way of turning confident sellers into apologetic deal-makers.

    My advice? Once you know the value of what you are selling, don’t let psychological games fool you.

    2. Sticker shock

    The sticker shock negotiators know just the right amount of theater to deliver without tilting your hand. You may appear confused looking at the price of an item as if the label may not be accurate.

    Contacting you for clarification can cause a little outrage or even pity (you, dear seller, are hopelessly misinformed about the value of your item.)

    Ignore shock sticker. Or counter with information:

    3. Wrong competition

    You know your barely-used John Deere lawn mower is hot business. But then a buyer points out that there’s one for sale all over town for $ 100 less.

    This worn out bargaining tactic – which suggests that a similar item is available nearby for a lower price – is another attempt to throw off sellers.

    Don’t get caught up in a price war with a ghost. If there was a better deal elsewhere, the buyer wouldn’t waste time with you.

    4. Inaccurate cash

    Some shoppers try to get a back-end discount by coming up with cash in large denominations and with no change. It is another effort to get a discount.

    For example, imagine you have a vintage bike for sale on the Facebook marketplace. You and the buyer agreed a price of $ 175. But the buyer arrives with only four $ 50 bills.

    This tactic assumes three things:

    • The seller is unlikely to have a change.
    • The seller never would raising the price of the bike to suit the denominations available.
    • To avoid the inconvenience and inconvenience, the seller may lower the price from $ 175 to $ 150.

    Don’t fall for it. Have small denominations available for such occasions. Or, turn to a mobile payment service like Venmo. Or take the awkwardness and wait while the buyer gets an ATM up and running.

    5. Fast double counting

    The quick double counting is less of a negotiating trick than a real hustle and bustle. I’m including it because buyers, when done successfully, get away with a hefty discount.

    This is how it works:

    1. You and a buyer agree on a selling price. Let’s say $ 100.
    2. With a stack of $ 20 bills, the buyer quickly begins to count out loud: “20, 40, 60” and so on. But – and this is important – he has the money in his hand.
    3. While counting and without missing a beat, the buyer counts one of the twenties twice, maybe even twice with their fingers over a bill to get the sound effect.
    4. Then he gives the stack of just four twenties to the buyer and leaves with the item.

    This rush is based on two assumptions: first, that sellers are usually distracted, especially with multiple buyers walking around (think of busy home sales); second, that the seller does not count the money for fear of offending the buyer.

    Unfortunately, I got this trick. It worked fine. You can learn from my mistake: Always count the money yourself.

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