Buying, Selling, and the Art of Negotiating: An RR Guide


In the past two years I have done a lot of buying and selling.  Which means I’ve also done a lot of negotiating.  Or at least attempted to.  Regardless, I’ve learned a lot.

The buying and selling that’s done around here tends to be things of the animal-related nature.  It has all been online, mostly through Facebook groups.

Over these last two years, I’ve bought two horses and sold two horses.  I’ve handled several sales of hay.  I’ve bought a saddle, and sold a saddle.  I’ve bought some tack and sold some tack.  As anyone with animals- especially horses- knows, the only thing that’s made us an actual PROFIT is the hay.  And by us, I mean the farm.  But it all works out, because my pay is a never-ending supply of “free” hay for my horses.

Sometimes it’s not about the money, but clearing out the stuff you don’t need, and making sure you have the stuff you actually do.  So while I may have bought a more expensive used saddle, and then sold a cheap used saddle, I felt better about the fact that I purchased what I actually wanted, and got rid of something I didn’t.

I’ve learned how to deal with all types of people.  From people who have no interest at all whatsoever in actually buying what you are selling, to people who are quick buyers with few questions asked.  You’ve got the people whose first question is “What’s your bottom dollar?”  to which I always reply with the exact asking price on the sale ad.  Then you’ve got people who want you to come down on price because they have to drive a distance to check out the item or pick it up.  The price still isn’t changing.   It’s not like I am pricing things way beyond their reasonable value!  And while I also realize the value of something is only what people are willing to pay for it, I do look around before I price, and take into account quality, condition, and age.

But sometimes you get that super easy sale that makes you do a double-take.  I had this experience while selling a horse.  I owned her for about a year, and had hopes of her being a competition horse.  But it just wasn’t meant to be.  I had six or so people come out and ride her.  I even had one person come out twice.  I had someone completely lowball me.  But winter was coming, and this horse had to go.  I lowered the price, and a local lady contacted me and wanted to come out that day.  I rode the horse around a little bit and then one of the lady’s granddaughters got on.  We walked back to the barn, and she said “I think we want to buy her.  We’ll give you the money today and we’ll come get her on Tuesday if that’s ok.”  Ummm….SOLD!

I’ve also learned that I’m not a great negotiator in the process.  I’ve been pretty firm on prices of things I am selling, but that’s usually because selling them is not going to make or break me.  When it comes to being the buyer, however, I tend to let my emotions get the best of me.  My husband went with me on one of my horse-buying trips, and he was the negotiator.  When I bought my other horse, however, I was just happy the girl had come down in price from when she first posted the ad, and I really liked the horse.  So while I did TRY to negotiate, it didn’t work in my favor.  So, it’s something to work on.

I know most people know what to watch out for when buying and selling online, but there’s a few things I’ve specifically watched out for and learned over time.

  • If a seller can’t spell or use proper descriptions that make sense, I keep scrolling.
  • If a seller doesn’t list a price, I’m not interested.
  • If a potential buyer asks for the bottom dollar, they’re not really going to buy.
  • If someone asks to do payments, I say no thanks.  (The things I have sold are not even that much.   If they need to make payments I’m most likely never getting my money.)
  • Pictures are SO important.  People are going to ask for them anyways, and even when I am posting hay for sale–people are more likely to contact me if they can see an actual picture.
  • Meet in public if you can, but if you have to give out your address–don’t do so until a commitment has been made and you have been able to “research” the person as much as possible.  (I recently had a lady who wanted my address to see exactly how far I was from her son who she was going to send to look at my saddle.  No. Way.)
  • Give all of the necessary details in your ad, but only address specific questions in private conversations.
  • Specify logistics in your add: pick up only, will deliver, will ship, etc.  (People wanting to buy hay are sometimes looking for delivery.  If that is not an option, make that clear right away.)

When it comes to horses….

  • People will want to trade for anything and everything.  No thanks.
  • Pictures and videos are a must.  And apparently one or two videos is not enough.
  • Be prepared to work with a selling agent, and not necessarily the owner.  Just make sure it all checks out.
  • Not everyone is honest.  If something doesn’t feel right, walk away.

When it comes to negotiating…

  • Always price things higher so you have room to negotiate.  It makes people feel better and you’re more likely to get a sale.
  • If someone seems really interested and they’re trying to negotiate a lower price, don’t be afraid to use the old  “well I have someone else coming out tomorrow….” tactic.  They may bite, they may not.
  • If you want to pay less for something tell the seller you only have so much in cash.  (This tactic worked on me just recently, but it wasn’t that big of a hit and I still made out in the deal.)
  • Don’t forget you can negotiate for other things besides the cost.  We paid the asking price for my used barrel saddle, but we talked our way into a couple add-ons in the deal.  Saddle pads, tie-down, reins.

Buying and selling can be stressful, but also a lot of fun.  Why keep stuff you don’t use when there is someone out there who is willing to pay for it?  And why pay full asking price when you can sweeten the deal by negotiating?  It really does make it all that much more enjoyable!

What other tips or tricks have you learned through your buying and selling adventures?

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