With offers and counteroffers flying back and forth across the table, negotiations between buyer and seller are an important part of the real estate dance, with each side trying to glean any advantage they can.
Toward that end, Britain's largest online brokerage firm, House Network, has teamed up with a leading body-language analyst to create a 10-step guide to help sellers decipher the unspoken intentions of potential buyers through their physical behavior. The guide, entitled "The Art of the Silent Sell," offers the insight of body-language expert Robert Phipps, an analyst, public speaker and the author of "Body Language: It's What You Don't Say That Matters."
The guide offers insights into the nuances of what a would-be buyer's body is saying that his mouth isn't. It also provides advice on how sellers can change their own behavior so they don't reveal their bargaining position.
"The importance of understanding nonverbal communication, both yours and that of your buyers, cannot be underestimated," says Phipps. "Buyers make purchase decisions with their senses, so this guide explains how sellers should use this to their advantage by appealing to their buyers' basic instincts, which are hard-wired."
Being an online operation, the House Network doesn't use agents, so much of the advice is premised on the notion that sellers should show their homes themselves.
Here in the States, that's pretty much frowned upon. Sellers are told to sit back, or actually leave the premises, and let the agents do their jobs. But as Graham Lock, co-founder of House Network, points out, no one knows your home better than you, so "you are in the best position to sell its positives."
According to the guide, then, the seller's job is to "present the property's best features and observe" the potential buyer's responses. In this way, you can dwell on more of what the buyer wants and likes, and ignore what they don't want.
With no further ado, here are some of the key points from "Silent Sell":
-- Greeting. Not only does the greeting begin every interaction, it sets the tone from there on out. So be sure you are ready and waiting for the buyer, but don't be too eager. Standing and waiting with an open door may be polite, but it might also make you appear desperate. Better to wait for the prospect to knock or ring the doorbell.
-- Handshake. Although some people don't like to shake hands, Phipps suggests going for it anyway. Most people find it difficult to resist an extended hand, and besides, it will give you an idea how enthusiastic they are about seeing your place for the first time.
-- Eyes. It's called a viewing because people use their eyes more than any other sense.
Your job is to show your home's best attributes. As you do, try to notice whether your visitor is engaging with you by actually looking at the features as you point them out.
-- Smile. This shows someone is happy, relaxed and content. So as you go from room to room, look to see if the corners of the buyer's mouth are turning upward. Make a mental note of their positive reactions and try to point out similar features to continue the mood.
-- Nods. Subtle head-shakes are good indicators of positive or negative feelings.
Encourage visitors to do this by nodding and shaking your own head when you speak about the good things about the property, neighborhood and local amenities.
-- Posture. How you stand has a great impact on how people feel about you. So make sure you are standing up straight. That equates to high confidence, which will help convey a measure of truth to what you are saying.
-- Angles. How you stand or sit in relation to your potential buyers can have a major impact on how comfortable they feel in your home. Greetings are normally face-to-face, but after that, avoid engaging visitors straight on. Rather, sit or stand to the left of the person you are showing around, because most people are right-handed. If they are left-handed, go the other way.
-- Feel. Encourage the prospect to sit on the sofa, lie down on your bed or open the kitchen drawers. The more folks can try things out, the more comfortable they will feel -- and the easier it will be for them to envision themselves in your place and make up their minds. That's why car salespeople practically demand that you sit behind the wheel or take a test drive.
-- Smell. This is the most basic of all the senses. From birth, people react almost automatically to odor in either a positive or negative way. Here, you needn't bake a cake or brew fresh coffee to make people feel at home, although there's nothing wrong with that. But you must make sure your place either smells completely neutral or has a pleasant fragrance.
-- Sound. Every home has noises, from creaky steps to the rush of traffic outside. If you have a noise, fix it. And if you live on a noisy street, pick a showing time when there's the least amount of traffic.
Says Lock: "Each and every buyer will interpret your home differently, according to their needs and requirements. Your challenge is to sell your home's best features.
"Appeal to the senses, notice how your potential buyers react and what their body language tells you, and concentrate on the positive while moving on quickly from the negatives."