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10 Best Cities For Starting A New Career

“I wake up in the morning and am excited to go to work and do what I love.” “The work I do is challenging but it’s fulfilling and rewarding.” “I’m eager to grow and become better at what I do.”

If none of these statements resonate with you, you aren’t alone. The Conference Board’s consumer research center reported that only 45% of Americans are satisfied with their jobs. If you’re someone who falls into that other 55%, it might be time to consider making a career change.

While there are many elements that factor into the decision for a job switch, it comes down to what’s best for you and your family. It’s hard to thrive and be truly happy if you spend 40+ hours a week doing something that doesn’t excite and fulfill you.

If you’re in the market for a career shift or if you’re looking to start your own business, ask yourself this: Is the city you live in providing you with the best platform to do so? If that answer is no or if you’re unsure, take a look at our list of the best cities for a career change.

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In addition to our list of best cities for making a career change, we’ve provided some advice for making that transition as smooth as possible. The career change resources include info about the importance of finding your passion, risks and benefits of a career change, factors to consider and actionable tips to help you make it all happen.

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What Makes A City Great For A Career Change?

If you know that a career shift is in your future, a change of scenery might open up some new opportunities. Some factors to consider when looking at cities for possible relocation include:

  • Low unemployment rates and a high number of job openings in your field
  • Business growth and grant opportunities for aspiring business owners
  • Affordability and availability of housing
  • Potential for increased home value if you’re considering putting down permanent roots
  • Average pay for your desired field or job position versus the cost of living
  • If you’re planning to take an entry-level job, consider those salaries as well

Another important point to consider is the lifestyle in the location. Does this new area have things to do that align with your hobbies and interests? You wouldn’t want to put down roots somewhere for a job if it’s not going to be a great place for you after you’ve clocked out. This is something we kept in mind when selecting our top cities for restarting your career. In addition to the economic factors, we only considered cities that ranked highly for well-being and happiness by their residents from this study by Gallup-ShareCare.

See our methodology section below for the specifics of how we made our top picks.

 

The 10 Best Places To Restart Your Career

Peruse our selections for the best cities to reboot your career, and maybe even find your potential new home and launchpad for your career.

 

10. Austin, TX

Best cities for a career change visual of Austin, Texas' stats

Kicking off our list at number 10, Austin is a well-known state capitol, but its tech and real estate growth have changed its cultural and economic landscape dramatically over the past decade. According to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, employment in the tech industry has grown by 24.9% over the past 5 years. This has brought opportunities in other fields to the area, as well as supported Austin incentives and grants. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, try taking it to the Lone Star State. Texas was also named the best state to start a business in 2019. Austin’s music and art scene has grown tremendously and is becoming a diverse destination with plenty of activities to keep you entertained on the weekends.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.9%
  • Average commute time: 24 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $31,635
  • Average salary: $49,532
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,513

 

9. Colorado Springs, CO

Best cities for a career change visual of Colorado Springs, Colorado's stats

Positioned against sweeping mountainscapes, Colorado Springs is full of beauty and opportunity. Some of their largest industries include scientific and technical services, health care and public administration. Check out their business resources for more insight into their economic development and opportunities. Colorado Springs is a great place for those who love the outdoors, as there are ample opportunities for camping, hiking and other outdoor adventures.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.4%
  • Average commute time: 21.8 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $30,459
  • Average salary: $47,691
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,243

 

8. Aurora, CO

Best cities for a career change visual of Aurora, Colorado's stats

Aurora is the third-largest (and the safest) city in Colorado with booming business opportunities. It’s also close enough to Denver to access their job market while allowing for a lower cost of living. Aurora offers many business incentives for those looking to forge their own path. Since the city is steps away from the mountains with beautiful hiking and biking trails, there is a big fitness community present there as well. Don’t underestimate their food scene just because they’re health-conscious – there’s an abundance of delicious and diverse cuisine to enjoy after work.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.7%
  • Average commute time: 29.3 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $32,101
  • Average salary: $50,262
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,313

 

7. Minneapolis, MN

Best cities for a career change visual of Minneapolis, Minnesota's stats

When making a career shift, don’t forget to consider this Twin City. Minneapolis has a great cost of living-to-income ratio and great average commute time for a bigger city. Small businesses can find ample support from the city as well as ongoing bids and Request for Proposals (RFPS) for funding from their procurement office. Located on the Mississippi River, Minneapolis has a great balance of urban and outdoor activities. Along with a great nightlife and bar scene, the city’s sprinkled with many lakes and parks, like the gorgeous Minnehaha Park.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.1%
  • Average commute time: 22.9 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $33,341
  • Average salary: $52,203
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,282

 

6. Scottsdale, AZ

Best cities for a career change visual of Scottsdale's stats

This desert city’s tech and software scene has been heating up in recent years. This has brought many jobs to Scottsdale and its sister cities of Tempe and Phoenix – this uptick in employment has been a big reason for its high job potential ranking. Scottsdale attracts entrepreneurs and skilled workers alike. Check out some tools and tips to help with relocation and getting started, and make note of this “Opportunity Zone” map and size-up business research tool. After hours, enjoy striking sunsets, golf at one of their numerous clubs, energetic nightlife or maybe a hike to explore interesting geological features at Papago Park.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.4%
  • Average commute time: 22.1 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $31,461
  • Average salary: $49,260
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,634

 

5. Burlington, VT

Best cities for a career change visual of Burlington, Vermont's stats

Home of the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. and the Ben and Jerry’s headquarters, Burlington is a sweet spot to reboot and start fresh. Some of their most common industries include education, health care, and accommodation and food services. There are also a ton of resources if you’re looking to start up a business in Burlington. Looking to unplug and disconnect? Explore the natural beauty in surrounding state parks and at Lake Champlain.

  • Unemployment rate: 1.8%
  • Average commute time: 18.5 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $32,056
  • Average salary: $50,191
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,449

 

4. Boston, MA

Best cities for a career change visual of Boston, Massachusetts' stats

Boston provides business startups with many exciting opportunities, including grants and loans ranging from $25,000 – $150,000, with some loans up to $250,000. There are also special initiatives to create lively main street districts enriched by a variety of businesses as well as state-provided grant matching to pay for employee training. Boston’s old port city background makes it a historical hotspot – check out the Freedom Trail route that takes you by important sites and museums.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.7%
  • Average commute time: 30.4 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $35,247
  • Average salary: $55,187
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,869

 

3. Washington, DC

Best cities for a career change visual of Washington DC's stats

Our nation’s capital isn’t all politics – it’s also brimming with ample opportunity for a career reset. According to the District of Columbia’s official job outlook, the top five fields with the most in-demand jobs are finance, law, PR/fundraising, computer systems and HR. If you’re looking to stay busy and explore outside of work, DC is full of attractions, museums, art, nightlife and places of historical significance.

  • Unemployment rate: 3.3%
  • Average commute time: 30 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $34,488
  • Average salary: $53,999
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,899

 

2. Emeryville, CA

Best cities for a career change visual of Emeryville California's stats

This city is prime for a career restart. It offers affordable housing while being close enough to other Bay Area cities like San Francisco and Oakland to enter those job markets as well. Take an easy 30-minute commute to potentially rake in an even higher salary. Emeryville offers a variety of small-business rebates and incentives to make it easier to turn dreams into reality. Emeryville is also a hop, skip and a jump away from other great destinations – take a ferry across the gorgeous bay to a hidden gem like Sausalito or take a scenic drive to Napa Valley or Lake Tahoe.

  • Unemployment rate: 2.9%
  • Average commute time: 32.1 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $36,405
  • Average salary: $57,002
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $2,184

 

1. Portland, ME

Best cities for a career change visual of Portland, Maine's stats

Nestled along a gorgeous New England peninsula, Portland, Maine, is not only beautiful, it’s also an ideal location to reboot your career. It boasts short commutes, the second-lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. and low housing costs. The city offers loans as a resource for those looking to start their own businesses as well. Portland is known for its 19th-century architecture, scenic shore views and nightlife, so there’s a lot to enjoy outside of work hours.

  • Unemployment rate: 1.9%
  • Average commute time: 19.1 minutes
  • Average entry-level salary: $31,833
  • Average salary: $49,842
  • Average monthly cost of housing: $1,390

 

Additional Cities for Career Restarts

Below you’ll see some other options and honorable mentions. Do you think we missed a great city? Let us know in the comments below what makes your city an ideal option for a restart.

Rank City Unemployment Rate Commute Time (minutes) Entry-level Salary Average Salary Cost of Housing (per month)
11 San Diego, CA 3.6% 24 $33,288 $52,121 $1,940
12 Orlando, FL 3.2% 25.4 $30,152 $47,210 $1,295
13 Pittsburgh, PA 4.5% 23.8 $31,301 $49,009 $1,008
14 Madison, WI 2.6% 19.4 $31,735 $49,688 $1,338
15 West Palm Beach, FL 3.4% 22.7 $32,600 $51,043 $1,368
16 Dallas, TX 3.4% 26.8 $32,733 $51,252 $1,232
17 Nashua, NH 2.7% 26.9 $32,500 $50,886 $1,573
18 Sunnyvale, CA 2.8% 24.4 $37,691 $59,014 $2,591
19 Atlanta, GA 3.5% 26.3 $32,770 $51,309 $1,396
20 Tampla, FL 3.4% 24 $30,280 $47,411 $1,275

 

Tips to Restart Your Career

Making the decision to change or shift your career is exciting but can also be intimidating. See the visual below for actionable tips and insights you can use to help restart your career on the right foot. 

Visual with tips for making a career change. Including the importance of finding the right career, how to align your perspective, overcome obstacles and well as some inspirational words about career change.

At the end of the day, it’s in your hands to go after what inspires you and fulfills your goals. The thought of selling your home and moving somewhere new or entering a new field may seem daunting. Try to reduce that anxiety by considering the tips above, taking it step by step and keeping your sights set on the reward of doing what you love for a living.

 

Methodology

To select the cities that made this list, we cross-referenced the 181 cities in Wallethub’s 2018 study on the best cities for jobs and 186 cities from Gallup’s 2017 study on the communities with the best well-being. Selecting cities that were ranked in both studies, we completed a weighted average of each city’s ranking position. Job study rankings (X) were given a weight of 75 out of 100 while well-being rankings (Y) were given the weight of 25 points (weighted rating =((X*3+Y)/4)). These rankings are supported by and displayed with supplementary data from the US Census (2013–2018), ZipRecruiter’s Salary tool (2019) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019) The average cost of housing was determined by averaging median mortgage costs with median gross rent.

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The Ultimate Guide to Negotiating House Prices

Negotiation is where the rubber meets the road in real estate transactions, especially if you’re selling your home on your own. Most of us instantly think of dollar amounts when the topic comes up – and price is certainly a top concern – but there’s also a whole laundry list of details to iron out before a buyer and seller can come to terms. Here’s a rundown of what to expect and how to successfully negotiate as you buy or sell your home.

Negotiating 101

For some, negotiation comes naturally. For most of us, not so much. The good news is that with a little education, you can make the most of some basic negotiation tactics:

Be prepared. The more data you have at your disposal, the better. For example: do some research on comparable homes in your area. What are they priced at? What are they selling for? You may have a rough idea, but if you get an accurate home valuation or get your own independent appraisal of a home, you can cite facts to counter any objections about price.

Listen carefully. The best negotiators are typically patient, respectful listeners. Paying close attention when the other side speaks will not only encourage them to do the same when you speak. It will arm you with all the little details that can complete a deal. Say a buyer wants the washer and dryer in your basement. Even if you don’t concede right away, make a mental note. You want to have a list of concessions in your back pocket that you know will sweeten the pot and potentially help you reach a final agreement.

Stay calm, cool and collected. Never let the personality on the other side distract you from your goal, which is to complete the transaction. You only have two people’s agendas to keep in mind—yours and the person you’re negotiating with. You share the same goal. Keeping that simple fact top of mind will help you focus on finding win-win situations – not getting caught up in emotions.

Be willing to walk. It’s tough to negotiate if your back is against the wall. If possible, have a back-up plan. As a home buyer, can you secure alternate living arrangements in case you don’t find a home you love right away? As a seller, can you rent or lease your property if you don’t receive an acceptable offer? You’ll have the most leverage in any negotiation if you’re not dependent on making a deal.

Property Contracts – What’s Up for Negotiation?

In real estate, everything is negotiable. Negotiating house price is typically the main concern for buyers and sellers, but it’s not necessarily the most important number to haggle over. There are many payments involved in a contract that are open for discussion. Much of the time, you’ll be negotiating who covers which costs in order to reach an agreed-upon sale price. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common financial points that can be negotiated:

Closing costs: These consist of the one-time fees and first or final payments either side needs to make. For the buyer they can include – deep breath – recording fees, title insurance fees, lender fees, inspection fees, appraisal fees, and many others. The seller has their own fees to manage, from owner title insurance to home warranty premiums.

Taxes: Just seeing the word can be a downer. States, cities or counties may have transfer taxes to account for, which are often considered part of the seller’s closing costs. In many locations, however, these taxes can be paid by either the buyer or seller. Whichever side you’re on, it may be worth your while to do some research on what the custom is in your area. You may be able to ease the burden of the other side and gain favor on the overall price of a home.

Earnest Money Deposit: This is a deposit included with an offer to show a buyer is serious about purchasing the home. These deposits are generally 1-10 percent of the asking price and will eventually get credited toward a down payment. A low amount may drop the value of an offer below other offers, while a high amount can shoot an offer to the top of the list.

Once you’re ready to draw up an offer, you can enlist the help of a licensed real estate agent or we can provide you with the state-specific real estate forms you’ll need.

Things you Can Haggle Over Other Than Price

There’s a lot more to your standard real estate transaction than the money changing hands. Here are some of the most important things to consider as you’re making or countering an offer:

Closing Date: Timing may not always be everything, but it’s a critical aspect of most purchase agreements. Everyone has their own schedule to keep. Deciding on an agreeable closing date for both parties and how long a home seller can stay in the home is a key aspect of most negotiations. If you have some leeway on when you need to move in or move out, offering to let the other side choose the closing date can help you gain ground when it comes to price.

Contingencies: Contingency clauses are ways for buyers and sellers to get out of a contract. For example, an offer may be made contingent on an inspection, or securing financing, or the sale of another home. Inspection contingencies are pretty much standard so a buyer can make sure the home is up to snuff. Beyond that, limiting contingencies on either side will make an offer much more appealing.

Inclusions: These can range from gazebos and home theatres to rugs and light fixtures. Any item on a property can be included in a sale, whether it’s because the buyer requests it or the seller offers it. Regardless of which side has more leverage, inclusions are often useful bargaining chips to make it through the final laps of a negotiation.

Prepare to Be Flexible Within Limits

Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s important to define your top priorities before negotiating. Decide on the maximum amount you’re willing to spend, or the minimum amount you’re willing accept. Set a date for when you need to move in or move out. Create a list of factors that your offer to buy or sell is dependent on. By separating your needs from your wants, you’ll create guideposts for when you can stand firm and when you can afford to compromise.

With that said, compromise doesn’t always mean splitting the difference. If you’re making counter offers on the sales price, for example, try moving in smaller increments than the other side. If you’re selling, and the buyer raises an offer by $3,000, counter by lowering your previous offer by $1,000 and throwing in an inclusion. When you do reach a point where you split the difference, it will be a higher level because you gave up less ground to reach that point.

Being Firm Without Being Adversarial

When you enter negotiations, half the battle is standing your ground without letting things get personal. A great way to achieve this is by being the strong, silent type. If you’ve stated your price and terms, wait for a response. Resist the urge to defend your position unprovoked. Often, silence is the most powerful way to show you mean business. Once you’ve put the ball in someone else’s court, wait for it to come back to you.

Then, listen attentively. Show you appreciate where they’re coming from. No matter how much you disagree, let the person know you take them seriously to prevent fanning the flames if emotions start to run hot.

Negotiating Priorities for the Seller

The first order of business for many sellers is to professionally market their home – and we have several packages to help in that area. After all, reaching more buyers attracts more offers, and getting more offers gives you more leverage. Once negotiation begins with a buyer, here are the next priorities for many For Sale By Owners:

Net proceeds: Sellers don’t necessarily want the highest price for a home. In many cases, they’re more interested in the net gain from a sale. This is determined by subtracting the seller’s closing costs, liens and loans from the sale price. Say a buyer offers a few thousand less than the asking price but can show a seller that there will be fewer closing costs. The seller may be able to net more and prefer that offer over a full-price offer.

Occupancy: The day a home buyer can occupy their new digs does not always coincide with the closing date. An occupancy date is negotiable, and many sellers need a little cushion to move out or buy a new home to live in. One of the most common concessions that a buyer can give a seller is to push back a closing date, or even allow a seller to stay in the home after a closing.

Negotiating Priorities for the Buyer

Not surprisingly, buyers place a high priority on the condition of a home and the upfront costs. There are many ways to negotiate on either front. Here are two of the key areas that many buyers focus on:

Repairs: After a contract has been signed, negotiations often pick back up after a home inspection. Typically, a buyer will order an inspection to reveal any safety or structural issues. If a buyer included an inspection contingency, all issues are negotiable and can lead to a deal falling through.

It’s not realistic to expect a seller to handle every cosmetic repair. As issues start getting costly, however, the seller should address them. In most cases, the smoothest option for handling repairs is for the seller to provide the necessary funds. When a buyer asks a seller to handle them instead, the results aren’t always to the buyer’s liking and can turn a good deal sour.

Cash due at closing: A seller covering even one percent of closing costs can be much more beneficial to a buyer than knocking a few thousand dollars off the asking price. The reason is that closing costs need to be paid upfront in one lump sum. Most buyers would rather have cash in their pocket than pay a few more dollars per month over the duration of their home loan.

For more on the key areas to negotiate as a home buyer – including mortgage points – check out the Zing blog by Quicken Loans.

Everyone Should Win to Make a Fair Deal

When negotiation becomes a tug-of-war, it generally results in tension and someone walking away from the deal, with both parties left unhappy. Real estate transactions tend to be much more civil and rewarding when the goal is to create a win-win situation. When you offer a concession, ask for one in return. Develop a give-take rhythm to build momentum towards a mutually beneficial outcome. Not only will you feel better about yourself when you sign the dotted line, you’ll probably walk away with more of the things you wanted to begin with.

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5 Tips for Negotiating a Successful Home Sale

The negotiation process is an integral part of selling one’s home, and the difference between doing it the right way or the wrong way can mean several thousand dollars either in or out of your pocket.

Because it is so crucial to negotiate well, I recommend you follow these 5 tips to help you negotiate the best possible deal for yourself when selling your home:

1. Create a Quid pro quo.
This Latin term means “something for something”, and in practical terms, it means setting up a negotiation where both sides feel as though they are getting something they want in the deal. In essence, you are creating a win-win situation for both parties.

The worst way to negotiate is by trying to “get over on someone”, or make a one-sided deal. Whether they verbalize it or not, the other party will invariably feel like they aren’t happy with the deal, and are more likely to walk away before the transaction is completed. That costs you time and money.

2. Always ask the other party about terms.
Did you know that the terms of a home sale are sometimes just as important as price? A common mistake during the negotiation process is to simply focus on price alone, rather than realizing that price is only one part of the transaction. The other part, which can be just as important to a prospective buyer, is the terms of the deal.

For example, does the other party need a quick closing, or do they need a lot more time to close than would be usual in a transaction? Do they insist on you including something in the home that you were planning on taking with you, such as a washer/dryer, chandelier, hot tub, or swing set? It does not pay to lose a good home sale by refusing to part with that Casablanca ceiling fan on the lanai! So it is often useful to ask the buyers, “What else besides price is important to you in this contract?”

3. Help the buyers pay for closing costs.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), as of March, 2015, the Median home sales price for all of the United States was $212,000. FHA loans require a 3.5% down payment, and conventional loans require 5%. Obviously, with $6,000-$10,000 coming out of pocket, most buyers today will need help with closing costs, which generally run 3% or more. At today’s median home price, that’s another $6,360.

Therefore, a smart seller should advertise they are willing to pay some or even all of buyer’s closing costs, in order to make their property appeal to the greatest number of people. Obviously you will ask for full list price in return for paying closing costs. This is where the Quid pro quo of the negotiation comes into play. You get the desired sales price, while the buyers get their closing costs paid.

4. Be flexible and check your pride at the door.
Sure, all of us love our homes. We watched our children grow up there, shared holiday meals with the relatives, and remember the love we put into every flowering bush we planted over the years. But those memories mean nothing to prospective buyers, and they won’t be feeling sentimental about Grandma’s Thanksgiving pies when their first offer is well below your asking price.

A classic mistake made by homeowners is to feel insulted, or to rigidly hang onto an unrealistic asking price, even when the market is telling them for months that the price is too high. The longer your home sits on the market, the more buyers begin to feel there’s something wrong with it, and the less you may actually sell it for down the road.

So check your pride at the door, and at least counter, rather than totally rejecting that low-ball offer you receive. Sometimes buyers are just “fishing” to see what they can get away with, and they know full well their offer is too low. Remember, the sale of a home is just business, so don’t allow your feelings to get in the way of making a sensible deal.

5. Offer things you can live without in exchange for price.
When the negotiation stalls, and nobody seems to be budging on sales price, try offering something “extra” that you really don’t care about. That old washer and dryer you didn’t initially include in the sale may have more value to the buyer than it does to you, simply because they won’t have the money after closing to purchase a new one. See if you can nudge the price up by saying you will include it in the sale.

Another idea to move a stalled negotiation forward is to add a Home Warranty plan to the sale. The home warranty is a kind of insurance that gives buyers peace of mind, knowing that expensive repairs to the plumbing, electrical, or heating and air system will not be an issue for them. This may entice them to bump their offer higher.

To sum it up, the key principles in any negotiation are flexibility, and the ability to think outside the box when both parties are stuck, in order to make the deal work. By applying the five tips cited above to your next negotiation process, you are more likely to lock up a deal for a greater price and with fewer headaches all around. Good luck!

About the Author:
Ethan Roberts is a real estate writer, editor and investor. He’s a frequent contributor to InvestorPlace.com, and his work has been featured on Money.msn.com, Reuters.com and Auction.com. He’s also written for SeekingAlpha.com and MarketGreenhouse.com, and was one of five contributing editors to TheTycoonReport.com. He’s been investing in real estate since 1995 and has been a Realtor since 1998. He also teaches classes on investing in residential real estate.

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Checklist FAQs Negotiating Virtual Agent

Negotiating an Offer To-Do List

The buyer starts the negotiations by making an offer on your home, but as a seller you set the tone for the process. Focus on the facts, such as the research that went into your price, keep calm no matter what and always keep your goals in mind. Check these items off your to-do list as you move forward.

When you receive an offer, ask to see a lender’s prequalification letter if a copy doesn’t accompany the offer. If it is a cash offer, ask for a proof of funds.

Respond to the buyer within 24 to 72 hours.

Negotiate in person if possible. Reading the buyer’s body language could be important.

Ask the buyers how they arrived at the price. When you counter, present your own market data or appraisal.

Even if you are only negotiating on price, be sure to respond to each element of the offer to show there are some parts you accept.

Pay attention to the dates in the contract. Taking 30 days to get a loan commitment is not unusual. Generally, a buyer has a week to have the home inspection and to respond.

Have your real estate attorney review all contract language and disclosures.

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Negotiate Like A Pro

If you’re buying or selling a home, negotiating is by far one of the most important things to be able to do. In fact, being a strong negotiator is an absolute necessity. If you don’t know how to ask for what you want, you’ll never get it. And, of course, you can save yourself a lot of money in the process.

A smart negotiator always has a strategy. Start by assessing what you stand to gain from the negotiation proceedings. If there is no advantage to you, then don’t negotiate. For you to be successful, there has to be something to win. Once you are clear on what it is you hope to achieve, keep this goal in your mind—at all times. This will help you remain focused and on target, even when dealing with difficult people.

Research, analyze, and clarify. A strong negotiator knows the hand he/she is playing. If you’re selling your home, for example, it is not a good idea to try to set a price that is currently too high for the neighborhood or economy just because you think you can make more money. This tactic will send prospective buyers running for the door. However, if you’ve researched how much homes in your area are selling for or have had your house appraised, you are in a much better negotiating position. You will have concrete evidence as to how you derived your figures. In addition, it is imperative that you listen carefully to what the other side is offering. Many negotiations fall apart simply because one side or the other doesn’t understand exactly what is being put on the table.

Whenever you are in a negotiating situation, it helps to remain flexible and open. This includes maintaining realistic expectations. It is rare that you will get everything you want while negotiating. Think about what you are willing to give up and what are absolute deal breakers. When selling a home, be honest and upfront about any damage or flaws a buyer may point out about your house. Discuss these problems, and let the buyer know he’s welcome to have any perceived damage or defect inspected—at his own cost. If there is indeed a problem, offer to reduce your asking price to help offset the cost of repairs.

Of course, there is always the chance that you will receive a low offer. Do not take it personally. This will only make you look weak while negotiating. Try to understand the buyer’s motivation. You may learn something important, even if you ultimately reject the offer. Feel free to make a counteroffer. Consider the buyer’s position and reduce your asking price, or explain how you arrived at your current asking price. It also helps to try to negotiate other terms to counterbalance a low offer. For example, maybe the buyer will pay his own closing costs. If you come within $1,000 of each other, it makes sense to split the difference. Remember, the longer it takes to sell your home, the longer you have to drag out the process—and pay the mortgage. It might be worth your while.

Another helpful tactic is to prepare negotiations with one party while having an alternative deal on the backburner. Chances are, one of the deals will close, and you will be in a stronger position to walk away if the original proceedings begin to breakdown. Even if the alternative isn’t ideal, you are still prepared to go there if necessary.

In order to avoid being intimidated by anyone, and to maintain power and control in negotiating situations, it is a good idea to prepare the setting. When you’re comfortable and confident, it’s easier to start negotiations in a winning position. Think about where you want the negotiations to take place, who you are negotiating with, how to best present your case, and the timeframe you are working within.

Finally, the key to reaching a satisfying agreement is to prepare yourself mentally. The right attitude is the main difference between successful and unsuccessful negotiators. Remember:

  • be tough, but professional
  • remain objective and unemotional
  • stay calm and relaxed
  • keep focused

Negotiating can be tricky, but with a little preparation and confidence you can succeed!