Online Yard Sale Lesson in Communication and Negotiation

Real Estate Agent with Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA VA License # 0225089470

Online Yard Sale Lesson in Communication and Negotiation

The other day I went into the Facebook marketplace with an item that I move would sell quickly. a forty inch Samsung LED TV that was used for one week, while my larger TV was fixed.  Since the end of the last year, I have decided that rather than throw things away or donate them, I will attempt to sell them.  Why not?  It's not like the trash can is ever gonna cough up money for the items I pitch.  And who needs more deductions when they are attempting to keep their adjusted gross income up?  Too many business owners don't get that, go to refi their home and realize, their adjusted gross income isn't what it needs to be.   The little discussed devil of over deducting.

Within an hour of listing the TV on Facebook in the marketplace and local yard sale groups, I had several interested buyers.  The first buyer that contacted me was able to pay full price in cash and pick it up the next day.  Deal!  The next couple folks interested I let know would be back ups.  Then the truly confused stepped forward.  

Offers poured in for much less than I had it listed.  I told each and every one of them that I had a full price buyer picking it up the next day.  One interested buyer was communicating to me in Spanish.  Meanwhile, my ad was in English.  Clearly, my understanding of Spanish was better than hers of English.  When I told her I had a buyer picked it up for full price the next day, she asked me where I lived.  She thought I was selling it to her.  This went a few rounds, as somehow I expected her to know some degree of English since she was responding to an ad in English.  I finally had to use Google translate to tell this woman in her native language that someone ELSE was buying it.  

Then there was the most obnoxious buyer of all.  He was relentless.  While I had conveyed that I had a full price buyer picking up the next day,  he insisted, "I will buy it today."  Hmmm.  They aren't any rules in online yard sales. If he wanted to pay more and take it that day, why not?  So I asked him what he would pay. His answer?  "What's the lowest amount you'll take?"   Really?  What part of having a full price offer and having to wait less than twenty-four hours for it, did this guy not understand?  

Given the whole English-Spanish communication problem earlier, I didn't want to assume he truly understood.  So I repeated it.  The response was the same question about the lowest I would take.  Hey, he may not realize it, but he's tangling with a professional negotiator who happened to be bored that day.  "I don't know.  What's the most you will pay today?"  His answer was unimpressive.  It was a 40% discounted offer.  My response was, " No thank you.  I will wait until tomorrow to get full price."

That's when he started coming up in ten dollar increments, still below the list price.  I kept responding, "No."  Then he gave me his highest offer, something I had requested early on, in desperation and pleaded, "Please.  It's a birthday gift for someone I'm seeing tonight."  He could have saved himself a lot of valuable shopping time by understanding that offering ABOVE the offer I had was the only way I was going to entertain his offer that day.  

Unfortunately, a lot of buyers in the real estate market place suffer from the same negotiation inexperience when making offers on real estate.  And when they don't have a professional, experienced real estate agent helping them understand the basic tennants of negotiation, they fail over and over.

When you are ready to buy, or sell, in the Bristow, VA area, give me a call at 703-402-0037 for the best results in your real estate transaction.



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Anna Hatridge
Goodson Realty - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty

Great analogy! Selling on FB is very similar to selling a home.  It takes all kinds of people to make our world go round.

Jun 10, 2017 07:46 AM #28
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

The moral of this story, Chris Ann, is clear. People often live in their own little mixed-up and crazy worlds. They can't see past the end of their nose. And BTW, why are you selling your TV? I am using my repair-back-up TV as a monitor. You know, just in case the TV breaks again . . .

Jun 10, 2017 08:05 AM #29
Michael Jacobs
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena Area Real Estate 818.516.4393

Hi Chris Ann -- I've never visited Facebook Marketplace but the analogy between the people you find there and the people we often encounter in real estate proves...some things are more closely aligned than what we may think.  

Jun 10, 2017 08:19 AM #30
Dana Basiliere
Rossi & Riina Real Estate - Williston, VT
Making deals "Happen"

Good point.  That is one of our biggest hurtles with some buyers.  They are loathe to give up the money even in a market with multiple offers.

Jun 10, 2017 08:48 AM #31
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I do not like being in those online selling situations, but my husband has sold some high ticket, furniture, and appliances....via that forum. You get so many frustrating, time wasting replies. Hardy seems worth it sometimes.

Jun 10, 2017 09:24 AM #32
Lottie Kendall
Pacific Union International - San Francisco, CA
Serving San Francisco and the Silicon Valley

Very interesting. I, too, didn't know about Facebook Market Place. Most of my things are so old that donating is the right track for me.

Jun 10, 2017 09:27 AM #33
Pat Starnes, Brandon, MS
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
Front Gate Realty ~ 601-991-2900 Office

That's a great analogy Chris Ann. I've seen this kind of activity in the Facebook Sale Groups I am a member of. Many will say, "I can pay cash today" in hopes of beating out the first buyer. And sometimes they are willing to pay more. But to offer LESS when you already have a full-price offer on the table? That just doesn't make sense. SMH. Clearly they need a negotiator. 

Jun 10, 2017 09:56 AM #34
Karen Sackett
BizEBee Virtual Assistants LLC - Suffolk, VA
BizEBee Business Services

I have dealt with that so many times in selling things on Craigslist and Facebook! My favorite (not really) is when they say they will pay full price the next day and then you never hear from them again! I love your analogy also! Thanks :)

Jun 10, 2017 05:44 PM #35
Melissa Spittel
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Westminster, MD
"Achieving Results Together "

Great analogy, and I completely understand the frustrations of communicating with a Spanish offer even though your ad was in English. I recently put a short sale offer together for my buyers. The listing agent is in another state, and Spanish is his dominant language. 

Jun 10, 2017 06:25 PM #36
Brian DeYoung
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Ithaca, NY
Brian DeYoung

So, did you get your price?


Nice story, and i do love to hear those stories. I do love to negotiate.  It is extra interesting when it is a licensed agent that doesnt understand why w if we change TERMS, the PRICE may change.

I had one that wanted to NOT have her seller pay for the septic and survey that they had agreed to in the contract.

I said okay as long as we could also change the agreed price. It took a long time to get to to sort of understand. I am unsure what language she understood, but she only spoke English. I think she called you about the TV though.

Jun 10, 2017 07:30 PM #37
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC

Chris Ann

Selling online has become big business.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Jun 10, 2017 09:04 PM #38
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC

Chris Ann

Congratulations on being awarded a feature for an outstanding post.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Jun 10, 2017 09:06 PM #39
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Why would anybody engage another buyer after the sale was already made? 

Jun 11, 2017 12:41 AM #40
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Chris Ann, Apparently the one buyer thought your name was "eBay" :)  It's just like real estate in a hot market, bring it strong or don't bother.  Bill

Jun 11, 2017 06:16 AM #41
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Specializing in Brookside, Waldo, Prairie Village

It's too bad the buyer didn't understand, the language barrier was a disadvantage for them.  I also try to sell items online that previously I would have donated!

Jun 12, 2017 08:48 AM #42
M.C. Dwyer
Century 21 Showcase REALTORs - Felton, CA
Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

Many people underestimate the value of negotiating skills, and overestimate their ability to get a deal.    Personally, I under-estimate how much of my time people are willing to waste...


Great point about the potential problems of taking too many deductions on your taxes, too. 

Jun 12, 2017 11:03 AM #43
Luke Acree
ReminderMedia - King of Prussia, PA
Making Agents Memorable

Selling on Craigslist or Facebook is a great way to test your tolerance for frustration before making a career of real estate.

Jun 14, 2017 06:56 AM #44
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Chris Ann,

Very funny! I just had an unsolicited offer for a property that was not listed. They told me, they would pay around 60% of recent sales prices. Wow, really? The owner is not desperate & was not planning to sell in the first place. When I told them the price of the most recent sale, they said, maybe we could meet somewhere in the middle, since they had not earned that much money yet (young buyer). Well, the owner decided to keep the place & take their chance at some future date.

Jun 14, 2017 07:13 PM #45
Kasey & John Boles
Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - - Boise, ID
Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties

This post is awesome.  Just awesome and is extremely relevant to your tie in with buyers & agents in real estate.  I more often donate than I do selling stuff online.  Time, effort and working it out with strangers isn't worth it to me.  But I also don't generally have large, high ticket price items to sell either.  You are right about self-employed business owners needing to be careful about deducting too much though! Have a great rest of the weekend Chris Ann -Kasey

Jun 17, 2017 02:53 PM #46
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

You did a great job keeping your cool during all that haggling. I would have hung up on the last guy!

Jun 20, 2017 06:25 PM #47
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Chris Ann Cleland

Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
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