Beginner's Guide to Haggling

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When you're trying to save money buying used or second hand goods can keep your spending down. However, the quality of a used item is often subjective and haggling or price negotiation is fairly common. Whether you're at a car boot sale, buying online, or buying a motor vehicle through a private listing, the following tips will help you get the best price on the aftermarket.


Before you start, have a look at the existing prices for the product. Whether it is brand new from an online shop or a cost comparison site, or second hand on auction sites like eBay, you can get an idea of how much you should be expecting to pay before you start negotiations. Even if the second hand item is in mint condition you should expect to pay less than the cost of a brand new item. If the seller knows you have done research on the true market value of the item, they are less likely to try and overcharge you. Show them you “know your stuff” if you can.

Idle Questions

Before talking about a price, try getting a feel for what the seller is expecting by asking questions. Find out why they want to sell the item, and if they are hoping to sell quickly. A seller may accept a lower offer to get the money in hand today, or may stand firm if they feel they will get a better offer in future.

Never Take the First Price

If the seller is expecting a negotiation, the first price they offer will deliberately be higher than they expect you to pay. Be polite and respectful when you suggest a much lower price. The rule of thumb is to take the sellers first price, subtract the amount you expect to pay, and then offer the same difference below the expected price. For example, if you want to pay £50 and the seller suggests £70, you can suggest £30, and hopefully you can meet in the middle.

Baby Steps

Raise your offer slowly, and in small increments. That way you show that you are willing to negotiate, but you are keeping your offer low.

Express Your Interest

Make sure the seller knows that you are serious about buying and making a deal. Tell them that you have the money ready, and if it is a cash purchase explain you have the cash ready to give them if you can reach an agreeable deal. They need to believe that you have a genuine desire to do business with them, but only for the right price. One trick is to claim “I would definitely buy it right now, but my wife/husband/partner would be furious if I spend more than £X”.

Stick to Your Guns

If you have a final price in mind, don't break! If you reach this price and the seller wants to continue negotiating, explain why you can't go any higher, and why you think your offer is fair. Have the courage to walk away if you don't get the price you want, and look for the product elsewhere.

Compare Deals

If there are other sellers in the area, make sure you shop around. Compare prices and quality. You may find a better deal, or improve your bargaining position by letting the seller know you have other places you could buy.

Be Nice

Try to keep the negotiations friendly, feel free to use humour and share personal details. If the seller likes you, they might offer you a better deal. If the seller feels insulted, or that you are undervaluing their stock, they may be less willing to do business with you.

Shut Your Mouth

Think every offer over carefully. Stay quiet for a few seconds. If the atmosphere becomes awkward, the seller may feel obliged to say something. They might offer a better deal, or try to justify their current offer. Either way, they are weakening their position by showing they know that the current price is not an ideal offer.

It's a Deal

When an agreement is reached, be sure to repeat the final price to confirm, over a handshake if appropriate. If you fail to do this and there's a misunderstanding about the deal that comes to light later, the seller may think you are trying to cheat them.

Practise Makes Perfect

Confidence is key to a successful negotiation, and if you can't fake confidence initially, don't worry, it'll come with time. If you are shy by nature, you might want to practise haggling with a friend. The more you do it the easier it will become.

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All content is for informational purposes only and is the opinion of the author. Nothing on this website should be interpreted as "advice". Money Dashboard Ltd make no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or any damages arising from its display or use.

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