People respond to deadlines every day, from their work, their spouse, their affiliations, etc. In professional real estate negotiation, this almost automatic response to deadlines can be used as an effective negotiation tactic. Set artificial or real deadlines with the opposing agent to motivate fast action.

Normally, the side with the shortest deadline makes concessions to reach agreement prior to the deadline. A competitive negotiator will try to impose a short deadline to put the other side under pressure. If the opposing agent gives you a short deadline, try to find out why that deadline exists with direct questions such as, “Why is this deadline important? Who set it?” The answers to these questions will help you know whether or not the deadline is legitimate or just a competitive tactic.

A collaborative negotiator will seek input from the other side prior to imposing a deadline. As a buyer’s agent you can call the listing agent and say, “My buyer is considering writing an offer on your seller’s house. He would normally give your seller 24 hours to respond. I’m calling to find out if that is sufficient time for your seller to respond or does your seller need more time? Or could your seller respond sooner? We would like your input on this.”

If possible, you can reset the deadline with one of your own. You can move the deadline in either direction – farther out or closer in – to keep control of the negotiation in your hands rather than the opposing agent.