The Art of the Deal – Part I

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

You don’t have to be a blustery real estate mogul to be good at making a deal. Being a good negotiator is part science and part art, so anything you learn from a book or article needs to be practiced frequently in the real world before you can expect to become good at it. This article is the first of a two-part series intended to offer some tips to improve your negotiating skills when selling and buying.

Tips for Sellers

Do your homework. You can’t sell anything very well if you don’t know much about your item. Some basic questions you should answer first include:

  • What is demand for this item?
  • Is it authentic?
  • What’s it worth?

Before I sell anything, I always verify that there is a good demand for an item. You can browse the current listings on Craigslist for large, common items such as furniture or household goods, while the sold listings on eBay provide a good overview of market prices for smaller items.

If your item has significant value in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, be sure to have it authenticated before your attempt to sell it. If you didn’t purchase it directly from the manufacturer, artist, or a reputable re-seller, then consider seeking out an expert in the field or appraiser to verify your item is authentic.

Once you’ve verified it’s authentic, determine a range of value based upon comparing the condition of your item to similar or identical examples that have recently sold. Again, you can use Craigslist or the sold section on eBay to find this type of information.


Start high, then work your way low. As a seller, your objective is to try to sell your item for as much as possible, while the buyers try to to buy it for as cheaply as possible. If you have a certain price in mind that you want an item to sell for, try marking-up the price, then gradually reducing the price over time until it sells. For example, price an item worth $75-$100 at $125, then lower the price by $15 – $25 every other week until it sells. You may even get lucky and have someone that really wants the item pay your initial $125 asking price.

For a quicker sale, advertise that you’re willing to consider a “Best Offer” and negotiate with potential buyers until someone offers a price in the “sweet spot” that you’re willing to accept.


Know when to hold, and when to fold. If you happen to have something that’s rare, valuable, and in-demand, then you can almost name your price when it comes to negotiating with a serious buyer. For example, a 1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle baseball card in poor condition is worth enough to send you (and your family) on a nice vacation. Better examples could pay for a car… or house! That’s because this particular card is considered a cornerstone of any serious baseball card collection and is difficult to find in any condition, let alone excellent condition.

On the other hand, having large collection of common items (such as newer baseball cards, rocks, and travel mementos) is typically much more difficult to sell. This is due to the time involved to sort through and identify more valuable individual examples and also because of low demand in general for those types of items. In those cases, sometimes it’s a good deal for you simply to be able to locate someone willing to pay you a reasonable amount to haul off the collection and do the work themselves.

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