When writing a professional letter, it's important to use the correct format. This means including the addresses of the sender and recipient, and using the proper salutation and closing.
There are many occasions when a professional letter is appropriate. These include an application letter, a thank you letter and a letter accepting or declining a job offer.
Every professional letter should contain the following, in this order:
-Recipient's address (also called the inside address)
-Salutation (e.g. "To Whom It May Concern")
-Closing (e.g. "Sincerely")
-Enclosures (Type the word "Enclosures" if there are other documents included with the letter, e.g. your resume. You may list the documents when more than one is included.)
Typist's initials if you did not type the letter yourself
The body of your letter should be single-spaced and left-justified.
There should be a blank line between paragraphs.
The body of the letter should contain:
First paragraph: A friendly opening followed by a statement of the letter's main point.
Second paragraph: Justification of the main point's importance.
Third paragraph: Through penultimate paragraphs Supporting information and details justifying the main point's importance.
Closing paragraph: A restatement of the letter's purpose and a request for a specific action, when relevant.
Here are some other tips for writing a winning professional letter.
- A professional letter should be diplomatic and respectful.
- A professional letter should be concise. Readers generally want to get to the bottom line without going through a lot of fluff.
- A professional letter should use a standard font. Times New Roman is the most widely accepted font, and letters are generally typed in a 12-point size.
- A professional letter must have correct grammar, punctuation and spelling. Use a colon (:) after the salutation and a comma (,) after the closing.
Always check your letter thoroughly for errors before sending it.
Email Signatures Do's and Dont's
Here's a checklist of the most common points that even smart, savvy signature users get wrong.
Do Make It Social
Social media is on the mind of every marketer right now – use your signature to connect social with mail. Firstly, give contacts a taste of your content: put a recent Tweet or a blog post snippet (the whole post won't fit) under your signature.
Then, add a social media link so they can Twitter Follow or Facebook Share in a click. Unilever added a Follow link and went from 40,000 Followers to 235,000 in just 10 months – for free.
Don't Let Employees DIY
The number one biggest mistake on signatures is inconsistency across the company because each employee has made his own. One might have a logo from 1994; the next might be using a logo that’s 1,013 pixels wide – beside a misspelled address.
Use the same template across your company. Make sure every signature matches a professional, stylish format that everyone approves of.
Do Use The Right Tools
It sounds vague but keep it in your mind – it's a signature, not a word document, not a web page and not an image on its own. If you know HTML, code it accordingly – avoid some of the pitfalls we'll detail further on.
If you don’t know HTML, don’t use Microsoft Word or Outlook to draw your template. They’ll format it in their own way: any other program (or another version of that same program) may interpret the layout differently and display it incorrectly.
Do Keep It Slim
Whether it's Outlook's Preview Pane before you open a message or the window after you double-click on it, very wide signatures will not render well.
The industry standard is about 650 pixels – we'd even say that a signature should go a little thinner, at 600px, to make sure nothing gets lopped off the edge.
Do Use Tables
For all your layout needs, turn to tables. Remember, you can simply leave the borders transparent if you don't want to see a grid – we're just talking about using them to place each part of your design.
That way, we know exactly how wide it will be – and no more – and we know that each part of the signature will appear in the right place: no job titles getting squashed together or images appearing inexplicably in the wrong spot.
Do Make It Simple
Keep the layout as robust as possible – let the images and links make an impact, not the way they're arranged. If you try something over-the-top or ambitious, be prepared to back it up with lots of testing.
In fact, if you have a decent way to test how it will look in lots of different email clients (Outlook, Apple Mail, Gmail), then be our guest – but be sure that it's solid enough to stay well-presented in lots of circumstances.
Don't Use Bullets
Bullet points tend to render strangely from client to client – what Gmail thinks of as a bullet point differs from Outlook's definition. To keep them all happy, just avoid bullet points altogether.
If need be, use different rows in your table to get that list look.
Don't Animate It
Avoid animation in signatures. In Outlook, in most corporate email clients, you will not be able to watch an embedded video – you won't even see the animations in gifs.
Do Use Inline CSS
This is more technical. Inline CSS and email HTML go hand-in-hand. A lot of standard, W3Schools-approved tags won’t work with the programs we use to read email.
Get around them by using Inline CSS. If you’re not technical, use an editor made specifically for signatures that will automatically turn your design into code that follows all these rules.
Do Write Full-Length HTML
For the same reason, write out the HTML longhand. A lot of email platforms won't recognize the shortcuts you’re used to.
For the non-developers among us, that means you shouldn’t just try to use a direct marketing email CMS or Word to build your template – use a tool that was made just for email signatures.
Do Use Jpegs
PNGs are not right for mail. That may defy some of the accepted practice you've been taught about the web – of course it won't, this isn’t a webpage: it’s an email.
Choose jpegs and gifs over PNGs under almost all email circumstances – and don’t forget to use the ‘-nosend-’ tag on all images, so they’ll appear correctly in the email
Do Restrict Image Dimensions
Don’t just rely on the size of the image being correct – hardcode exactly how wide and high it will be in HTML. If you don’t, Outlook might render the image strangely.
Again, for the non-coders reading this, that means you shouldn't just use a web CMS or Word to try and draw out your signature – it doesn't work like that.
Do Find The Right Ratio
Try not to let the images overwhelm the text – too large, too numerous or too tacky. Don't lose the email in that signature. It's hard. Every email is different: what looks right with blocks and blocks of text will look strange under a single sentence.
Change how your signature looks on replies. The first email in a conversation may be longer, so a larger, bolder signature can make a professional first impression. Then, on replies, use a simpler, slimmer set-up to remind, not repulse.
Don't Forget Alt Text
Remember image alt text – you never know where your mail may end up after it’s forwarded. With alt text, anyone who gets that email can hover over an image and get an idea of exactly what it does – I say ‘does’ rather than ‘is’ because each image in your signature tends to perform a function.
A ‘Like Us On Facebook’ alt text on that social media link or a ‘Sign Up For Our Event’ on that banner for your upcoming exhibition can explain what that icon offers. It makes your links a little more inviting.
Do Shrink Your Links
Most links will be behind images – they're fine as they are. But when you have links visible in the signature – say a 'Web: Exclaimer.com' in your contact details – you'll want to keep them as short as possible.
For many, that could be using great resources like Bit.ly and Ow.ly. If you have a web admin, use a shorter URL and ask him to set up a redirect that takes visitors to the real page – which can have as long and complex a URL as it needs.
Don't Break The Law
It's not exciting, but it's the law – legal disclaimers are required in many parts of the world.
Like CAN-SPAM stating you need your physical business address on mail or Circular 230 forcing you to declare what’s advice and what’s opinion - look into what laws apply to you and what’s needed to comply with them.
Watch out for these regulations and stay on top of changes to your business – you never know when that new service you offer or that new market you've entered might take you into new legal territory.
Signatures may be a massive asset but they don't need to be a massive effort. There are a few smart ways to manage yours – without bothering your IT department or your colleagues with updates, changes, corrections and so on.
How to Properly Sign a
Power of Attorney Document
When someone gives you power of attorney, she is entrusting you to act on her behalf. Some powers of attorney don’t go into effect until the principal, the person granting you the power, can no longer act for herself.
Others may go into effect as soon as both of you sign the power of attorney document. When you sign documents for someone else in this capacity, it’s important to make it clear that you’re acting for her, not contracting for any debt or transaction personally.
Have your power of attorney document with you when you sign anything on the principal’s behalf. The entity or person with whom you’re contracting will probably want proof that the principal has authorized you to act for her. Ideally, the principal has already provided copies to all institutions with whom she expects you to deal, but don't count on this.
Sign the principal’s name first, not your own. This eliminates any confusion that you’re acting in your own interests or assuming any personal liability for what you’re signing. The principal is actually the one engaging in the transaction.Ready to appoint a power of attorney?
Sign your own name after the principal’s name, after including the word “by.” This indicates that the principal is engaging in the transaction through you. For example, you would write, “Sally Smith, by Samuel Smith.”Step 4End the signature by indicating that you’re acting under power of attorney. You can do this in one of several ways. After your name, you can write in the words “agent,” “attorney in fact,” “power of attorney” or simply, “POA.” Your final signature should read similar to "Sally Smith, by Samuel Smith, power of attorney."
Notary Signing Agents often are asked by title companies and signing services to include extra signed and stamped notarial certificates in the completed loan packages they return after an appointment. The reason given is that the company wants extra certificates to rectify any mistake the NSA made in completing a notarial certificate on the mortgage, deed of trust or other notarized document in the loan package without having to send the entire document back for the NSA to correct. That would take precious time that could delay the closing of the transaction.But this is a problem for NSAs. While you instinctively want to follow the instructions your clients give you, this one requires you to violate Notary law.State Laws And Extra Notary Certificates
Many states address the issue of sending pre-signed, pre-stamped certificates, but they do it in different ways.
- Some states, such as Florida, outright prohibit the practice.
- Other states, such as California and Mississippi, require Notaries to complete the certificate at the time they sign and affix their seal. Notaries in these states who fail to do this can have their commissions suspended or revoked, and California Notaries could be fined.
- Still other states’ laws say that a certificate must be completed “contemporaneously” with the performance of the notarial act, not before or after.
- Maryland takes a different approach. Notaries there may only complete certificates that are already part of the document; they may not complete and use loose or separate certificates at all. So they cannot send additional, unattached certificates.
NSAs in states that do not have one of these explicit laws should follow the established professional standard of practice against providing these extra certificates to clients. In fact, much of the mortgage industry already recognizes that requests for extra certificates are inappropriate.
As much as you might not want to, you will have to say “no” to any client who asks you to send extra certificates. Simply explain that it is against the law. Every certificate you complete must be attached to, related to or connected to a specific document. You also can remind the client that if an unattached certificate were to be used for fraud, they could be named in a lawsuit.
An investment turnover ratio measures how actively a fund is managed. A high turnover ratio means the manager is buying and selling stocks on a regular basis, while a low turnover means the fund holds its investments for a longer period of time. Though a high investment turnover ratio might make you feel like your manager is more involved, it's not always the best investment strategy because of the cost of each trade. According to Morningstar, managers with higher turnover rates usually have more aggressive investing strategies.
Divide the total sales by the investment fund's assets during a particular period. For example, if the mutual fund has $1 million in stock sales during the quarter and $5 million in assets, divide $1 million by $5 million to get 0.2.
Multiply the result by the number of periods per year. In this example, since there are four quarters per year, multiply 0.2 by 4 to get 0.8.
Substitute the result for "x" in the following ratio: "x to 1." In this example, substitute 8 for "x" to get an investment turnover ratio of 0.8 to 1. This means that over one year, each dollar of assets will get sold 0.8 times.
Phonetics: mo-bile no-ta-ry
A mobile notary is a notary who is accustomed and willing to travel to the signer's location. Mobile notaries often visit offices, houses, hospitals, courts, and jails. Mobile notaries usually charge a travel fee which is not governed by state law in most states.
Notary Signing Agent
Phonetics: no-ta-ry sign-ing a-gent
Before the 1990's, Notary Signing Agents were virtually unknown. Borrowers were expected to travel to the office of a lender, escrow agent or title firm to complete a loan. However, during the past decade, increasing competition in the lending market, a massive volume of refinancing and home-equity loans and demand for faster, more customer-friendly services changed how loan transactions are conducted. Lenders now strive to make transactions as simple as possible and reduce a borrower's travel time during the work week. Therefore, the Mobile Notary came into existence. Another motivating factor for the lenders is that the Notary can eliminate the necessity for the borrower to take up the lender's time during the signing, hence freeing up the lender's schedule for focusing more on creating more loans. A Notary Signing Agent can point out which page certain pieces of information are on. However, the Notary Signing Agent or "Signer" can not explain the terms of the loan or explain documents since that could be considered giving legal advice which is not legal unless you are an attorney of law. A Notary Signing Agent is not a real agent as they are almost always an independent contractor who is self-employed. It is prudent to inform the borrowers that you work for yourself and have no involvement with the lender outside of assisting signing the documents.
In realestate, there are two kinds of buyers.The first group is made up of investors, or people who buy properties with the intention of either leasing them out to generate income and a return, as well as those who buy, fix, and flip to other buyers. The other group is made up of people who are simply looking for a place to live or do business. They buy a property and use it, and this group makes up the vast majority of the market. For instance, in the home market, the one place where the average American will likely invest in property, nearly half of all real estate buyers are buying their first home during any given year, according to Zillow
.Part of this is due to the fact that real estate investing, particularly on the commercial side, has traditionally been reserved for high-net-worth individuals, institutional investors and others with the wherewithal — connections, financing means and know-how — to get involved. It was an asset class that everyday retail investors simply did not have access to and weren’t able to leverage, except indirectly through publicly traded real estate investment trusts.
But that has started to change. Thanks to technology and new regulation around crowdfunding, investors can now invest directly in commercial real estate deals, cutting out the middleman, and even with a small investment diversify their portfolio across a number of different assets. What used to require a portfolio worth tens of millions of dollars can now be accomplished with a few thousand at a time.
Crowdfunding platforms such as Fundrise, RealCrowd, Crowdstreet and others are proliferating, allowing accredited individual investors to get into large, high-return commercial real estate transactions with investments as small as $500.That looks to me, as an industry insider, like a real seachange.If you look at most wealth that's been built over the centuries, both in America and globally, real estate is usually a big component of that. Some think of it as a fourth asset class
after bonds, stocks and cash. Commercial real estate constitutes 13 percent of GDP, and in recent years was elevated by S&P
Dow Jones indices from being a subsector of “financials” to its own place as one of 11 industries in its global classifications.Given the position of commercial real estate in the economy, it has always felt strange to me that the average investor cannot access these investments. Even amid changing technologies, new industries and new innovations, there is nothing like owning a physical asset and having a piece of an apartment building or industrial building that can generate income for you.I’ve tested out the concept of these crowdfunded platforms to raise an investment, and it does seem to work. (I have no personal or firm investment in the platforms themselves). Our firm put a deal out on one of the larger commercial real estate crowdfunding platforms to fund an asset we are buying in Phoenix, Arizona. Over the course of about two weeks, nearly $1.5 million came in from smaller investors on that platform. It allowed them entry to a deal they would never before been able to access via small investments. It worked for us because it allowed us to access investors and capital that we never would have been able to reach before.In 20 years in commercial real estate, for me it has always been about building personal, individual relationships with each of our investors. Now we can put a deal out on a crowdfunding platform and create a whole host of new relationships, with diverse investors, on a national basis almost overnight.It’s a democratization of commercial real estate, but it does carry with it some substantial risks. These services are being marketed to individual investors directly and through partnerships with personal finance portals. You may find these platforms being pitched to you in email or in your social media feed.
But real estate investment isn’t like investing in stocks, bonds and mutual funds. These are illiquid assets that can be difficult to value, so crowdfunding investors who are new to the commercial real estate space would do well to follow some best practices that those of us in the industry have been following for decades.
1. Do your research: Always do your homework and look at each of the deals available to you in-depth. Is it the right fit for your personal investment philosophy? How does it fit within your overall investment portfolio? Real estate investing is like any other investment that has risk associated with it, so diversification is key. Don’t bet it all on one horse, and focus on deals that make good common sense.
2. Understand what you’re buying: A real estate investment isn’t a share of stock. It is a physical asset that can’t be solely summarized in numbers on a chart. Is that apartment or office building located in a desirable area? Is it in a growing city? Are local renters increasingly moving to another part of town, driving down rents where you are looking to invest? People will always need to sleep in a bed and have a physical location where they live, but what makes one particular apartment building more desirable than another? Don’t overlook those details when investing. And remember, this kind of investing does not have the liquidity of a stock. You may need to stay in for a while.
3. Think big: For us as real estate investors, everything comes down to job growth and a positive outlook for the future. For that reason, it pays to look beyond one single asset when considering investments. Think about industrial space as an example. Regardless of where technology is going, we will always need physical places to put goods that can be shipped out and delivered to people on a local level. Even if the products are coming in globally, they have to be brought into the country, broken down into their component parts and shipped around to customers. So industrial real estate has good strong fundamentals just because of that. It’s the same with demographics. For instance, Baby Boomers are now starting to move into senior care facilities in greater numbers as they age, meaning there is a greater need for more senior care space.You don’t have to go too far out on the risk curve to do well in commercial real estate. Yes, there is always a chance that the market could go down, and can even go way down and stay there for years. But at the end of the day, real estate investors still always have a physical asset that they own.If you are willing to take the time to learn the game, it could be one more tool in your investor toolbox.
One day last fall, my colleague Miguel Morales
received an email with a sign-off that was so strange, it has stuck in his mind for the last year. It came from Melissa Geisler, who works in digital sports programming and production at Yahoo. Below Geisler’s title and above her cell phone number was this mystifying quote: “The Bird is equal to or greater than the Word,” attributed to someone named, simply, “scientist.”With this and other strange sign-offs in mind, Miguel suggested I tackle the subject of how best to conclude an email. I polled colleagues, friends and four people I’d consider experts, including Cynthia Lett, 55, a business etiquette consultant in Silver Spring, MD. Below is their combined wisdom and some commentary of my own. I offer four rules and a long list of potential sign-offs.But first, Geisler’s quote. She says it came from an episode of the animated cable TV show Family Guy
, about a song from the 1960s. “That was me trying to have a little fun,” she says, adding that she has since changed her signature to add Yahoo’s new logo, and abandoning the quote, which she hoped recipients enjoyed while it lasted. Much as I respect Geisler’s attempt at levity, I think it’s a mistake to leave people guessing about what you want to say.Here are my four rules for signing off on emails:1. Don’t include quotes.2. Avoid oversized corporate logos. Sometimes we have no choice about this, because our companies insist we include these things, but if they are too big, they draw the eye away from the message. 3. Include your title and contact info, but keep it short. In most business emails, you’re doing the person a favor by sharing your vital information. But make it minimal. Mine just says, “Susan Adams, Senior Editor, Forbes 212-206-5571.” A short link to your website is fine but avoid a laundry list of links promoting your projects and publications.4. Do include some kind of sign-off. Mark Hurst, 40, author of Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload
, says the function of a sign-off is to signal the end of a message, so the recipient knows it didn’t get short-circuited. “To me the sign-off is not so much style as function in the service of clearly communicating your message,” he says. Etiquette consultant Lett advocates a more formal approach. “I don’t believe emails are conversations,” she says. “They’re letters.” I disagree. Emails are their own form of communication and they’re evolving fast. Farhad Manjoo, 35, Wall Street Journal
technology columnist and until recently, the voice behind a Slate podcast, “Manners for the Digital Age,” puts it well: “An email is both a letter and an instant message,” he observes. All of that said, here is a list of common and not-so-common email sign-offs, with commentary and notes from the experts.
Best – This is the most ubiquitous; it’s totally safe. I recommend it highly and so do the experts.
My Best – A little stilted. Etiquette consultant Lett likes it.
My best to you – Lett also likes this one. I think it’s old-fashioned.
All Best – Harmless.
All the best – This works too.
Best Wishes –Seems too much like a greeting card but it’s not bad.
Bests – I know people who like this but I find it fussy. Why do you need the extra “s?”
Best Regards – More formal than the ubiquitous “Best.” I use this when I want a note of formality.
Regards – Fine, anodyne, helpfully brief. I use this.
Rgds – I used to use this but stopped, because it’s trying too hard to be abbreviated. Why not type three more letters? OK if you’re sending it from your phone.
Warm Regards – I like this for a personal email to someone you don’t know very well, or a business email that is meant as a thank-you.
Warmest Regards – As good as Warm Regards, with a touch of added heat.
Warmest – I use this often for personal emails, especially if I’m close to someone but not in regular touch.
Warmly – This is a nice riff on the “warm” theme that can safely be used among colleagues.
Take care – In the right instances, especially for personal emails, this works.
Thanks - Lett says this is a no-no. “This is not a closing. It’s a thank-you,” she insists. I disagree. Forbes Leadership
editor Fred Allen uses it regularly and I think it’s an appropriate, warm thing to say. I use it too.
Thanks so much – I also like this and use it, especially when someone—a colleague, a source, someone with whom I have a business relationship—has put time and effort into a task or email.
Thanks! – This rubs me the wrong way because I used to have a boss who ended every email this way. She was usually asking me to perform a task and it made her sign-off seem more like a stern order, with a forced note of appreciation, than a genuine expression of gratitude. But in the right context, it can be fine.
Thank you – More formal than “Thanks.” I use this sometimes.
Thank you! – This doesn’t have the same grating quality as “Thanks!” The added “you” softens it.
Many thanks – I use this a lot, when I genuinely appreciate the effort the recipient has undertaken.
Thanks for your consideration – A tad stilted with a note of servility, this can work in the business context, though it’s almost asking for a rejection. Steer clear of this when writing a note related to seeking employment.
Thx – I predict this will gain in popularity as our emails become more like texts. Lett would not approve.
Hope this helps – I like this in an email where you are trying to help the recipient.
Looking forward – I use this too. I think it’s gracious and warm, and shows you are eager to meet with the recipient.
Rushing – This works when you really are rushing. It expresses humility and regard for the recipient.In haste – Also good when you don’t have time to proofread.
Be well – Some people find this grating. Not appropriate for a business email.
Peace – Retro, this sign-off wears its politics on its sleeve. It doesn’t bother me but others might
Yours Truly – I don’t like this. It makes me feel like I’m ten years old and getting a note from a pen pal in Sweden.
Yours – Same problem as above.
Very Truly Yours – Lett likes this for business emails but I find it stilted and it has the pen pal problem.
Sincerely – Lett also likes this but to me, it signals that the writer is stuck in the past. Maybe OK for some formal business correspondence, like from the lawyer handling your dead mother’s estate.
Sincerely Yours – Same problem as “Sincerely,” but hokier. Lett likes this for business correspondence. I don’t.
Cheers! – I wonder how prevalent this is in the UK. I’ve only seen it from Americans who are trying for a British affectation. I know it shouldn’t grate on me but it does. I also don’t like people telling me to cheer up.
Ciao – Pretentious for an English-speaker, though I can see using it in a personal, playful email.
Your name – Terse but just fine in many circumstances. Probably not a good idea for an initial email.
Initial – Good if you know the recipient and even fine in a business context if it’s someone with whom you correspond frequently.
Love – This seems too informal, like over-sharing in the business context, but Farhad Manjoo points out that for some people, hugging is common, even at business meetings. For them, this sign-off may work.
XOXO – I’ve heard of this being used in business emails but I don’t think it’s a good idea.
Lots of love – I would only use this in a personal email. The “lots of” makes it even more inappropriately effusive than the simple, clean “Love.”
Hugs – It’s hard to imagine this in a business email but it’s great when you’re writing to your granny.
Smiley face - Emoticons are increasingly accepted, though some people find them grating. I wouldn’t sign off this way unless I were writing to my kid.;-) – I’ve gotten emails from colleagues with these symbols and I find they brighten my day.[:-) – I’m a sucker for variations on the smiley face made with punctuation marks, though I suspect most people don’t like them.
High five from down low – A colleague shared this awful sign-off which is regularly used by a publicist who handles tech clients. An attempt to sound cool, which fails.
Take it easy bro – Richie Frieman, 34, author of the new book Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career, says he regularly gets this from a web designer in Santa Cruz, CA. Though it might turn some people off, I would be fine receiving an email with this sign-off, knowing the sender lives in an informal milieu.
See you around – Lett would cringe but this seems fine to me.Have a wonderful bountiful lustful day – Tim Ferguson, editor of Forbes Asia, regularly gets this sign-off from Joan Koh, a travel writer in southeast Asia. It’s weird and off-putting.
Sent from my iPhone – This may be the most ubiquitous sign-off. It used to bother me but I realize that it explains brevity and typos. I’ve erased it from my iPhone signature because I don’t like to freight my emails with extra words, and in many instances I don’t want the recipient to know I’m not at my desk. But maybe I should restore it. The same goes for automated message on other devices.
Typos courtesy of my iPhone – Slightly clever but it’s gotten old. Better to use the automated message.
Sent from a prehistoric stone tablet – I laughed the first time I read it but then the joke wore thin.
Pardon my monkey thumbs – Same problem here.
Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail. – A preachy relic of the past. Who doesn’t know that printing uses paper?
vCards – I think these are a great idea. At least they work well on my Dell desktop when I want to load a contact into Outlook.
This email is off the record unless otherwise indicated – My colleague Jeff Bercovici, who covers media, says he gets this email from friends who are inviting him to birthday parties or other engagements and he finds it extremely annoying. I’m wondering what kind of paranoid people put this in their signatures.
Lengthy disclaimers – We’ve all seen these and ignored them, though I understand that many companies require them. Forbes’ in-house legal counsel, Kai Falkenberg, says she knows of no cases that have relied on legal disclaimers, though she says they might serve as persuasive evidence in a trade secrets case where a party was attempting to keep information confidential.
What do you think of my list?
What weird, funny, offensive or elegant sign-offs have I missed?
6 Simple Tricks for Winning a Negotiation Stalemate
By Laura Agadoni | February 18, 2015
If you and the potential buyer are at a stalemate regarding price, get creative and start thinking out-of-the-box for a solution.
Learn how you can not only play the negotiation game, but also win.
When my husband and I were buying our first house in Georgia, I cringed at the tough negotiating he was doing, as did our agent. “You sound like a fast-talking big city businessman,” she said to him in her smooth drawl.
But as cringe-worthy as it seemed at the time, he was just engaging in some tried-and-true horse-trading — trying to make a deal that both sides could feel good about.
You might be the type of person I was, the kind who never questions the price of an item. (I didn’t exactly shine at garage sales.) But once you learn how to handle negotiation encounters, you can prosper.
When selling your home, your first reaction might be a big “oh heck no” when you get a low offer on your asking price, but take a deep breath and at least consider your options.
Here are six tips for not only playing the negotiation game, but also winning.
1. Price it right
There’s a difference between the price you want to get (or what you think the house is worth) and what the market will bear.
“Pricing is not based on how much a seller needs to net,” says Brian Horan, a Los Angeles real estate broker. “Sellers always seem to need a certain amount, but that has nothing to do with the price of tea in China.”
Look at neighborhood comps to give you a more realistic idea. Find a savvy real estate agent; she should be able to provide a benchmark for asking prices that reflect market valuations.
2. Consider the first offer
Chris Leavitt, star of Million Dollar Listing: Miami, says, “Really pay attention to your first offer because that will probably be your best one.”
Leavitt, who once sold a Miami Beach condo for $34 million, the highest condo sale in Florida history, knows a little something about negotiations.
“Your best offers usually come at the beginning, so it would be a mistake to not listen to those offers, regardless of what they are,” he says, adding that sellers “shouldn’t be insulted because that offer might actually be the right price, the market price.”
3. Think like a salesperson
Patrick Malone, senior partner at The PAR Group, says, “All home sellers should establish their BATNA before listing their house for sale.”
No, he didn’t say you need to become Batman. “BATNA” stands for “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.” This is a negotiator’s fallback option in case there’s no deal.
Having a BATNA puts you in a stronger negotiation position. Maybe you’ve decided that if you don’t get your bottom line, you’ll rent the place and try again later, or maybe you’ll renovate and stay.
Keeping your BATNA in the back of your mind can help prevent you from agreeing to a bad deal out of desperation.
4. Don’t get emotional
It’s probably best not to listen to Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” before you enter negotiations with a potential buyer.
Garratt Hasenstab, managing broker with the Verdigris Group, says you need to stay levelheaded throughout.
“This is business, simple as that. There is no call for emotion. Rational thinking, business skill, and negotiation skill are what it’s all about.”
Hasenstab also recommends your real estate agent find out the buyer’s prequalification amount from the bank or what the buyer’s desired purchase price is. The more information you have about a buyer’s financial situation and needs, the better you can bargain.
5. Be realistic
Being stubborn is usually not the best strategy in any negotiation. If your goal is to sell, taking less than your ideal price is better than not selling at all.
Glenn S. Phillips of Lake Homes Realty says, “Sellers must account for the real cost of not selling — not just a monthly mortgage payment — but utilities, insurance, maintenance, yardwork, and risk of vandalism or theft.”
Once you know the total cost of keeping your home on the market each month, it might put offers, even the lower ones, in better perspective.
6. Embrace creativity
If you and the potential buyer are at a stalemate regarding price, it might be time to entertain some out-of-the-box ideas. Chris Leavitt suggests you offer to throw in the furniture.
Glenn Phillips asked for some extras when buying his first home: the riding lawn mower, the window treatments — and even the dog.
And it paid off: “Mikey the Mortgage Dog has been one of the best dogs ever.”