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Negotiation is Everything: A Case Study

Why should you care about your negotiating ability? Because most things in life are negotiable. You probably associate the term to salary and compensation packages, and maybe even to sales deals, but it is widely applicable beyond these areas.


Let’s talk about my lease for instance. I just put $2k back in my pocket after agreeing to terms that I was told would never happen.


But let’s go back to the beginning.


After touring a few dozen apartment buildings in Denver, I found the one. It had massive windows showcasing downtown city views in addition to pretty spectacular mountain and sunset views.


The building was only partially occupied given the new-build frenzy in the city with the influx of young professionals eager to transition to the mountain lifestyle.


The asking rent on my desired unit was high. On the order of 2X of the other units I viewed, high.


I approached the negotiation with confidence so my delivery wasn’t laughed off even though I was told there was no way they’d meet my number. We went back and forth a handful of times until they were trading the ask at a price they said they never would. Our agreed upon price ended up 17% below the initial asking price. I leveraged tactics like waiting to hear from them and not demonstrating how eager I was for the unit.


Don’t show them your cards.


Hold firm when you ask for something.


I have been so thankful for those views. Especially through the isolation of quarantine where my quarateam is a 37-pound furball.


Fast forward to our move-out negotiation. I decided to move to Boulder and found a lease starting at the beginning of a month. My lease expiry meant that I would have a 17-day overlap in rents. Not ideal so I inquired about amending the contract. Their response “absolutely not.” No harm in asking though, right?


A few weeks later the leasing team messages me asking if I am amenable to moving up my move-out date by 7 days. Have you ever heard of a give-get? Don’t give something up, unless you’re getting something in return. Now who has the leverage? They need my apartment sooner to secure a renter. So I go back to them “I am open to this updated date, however, would prefer that we meet at the first of the month so that I’m not covering two rents.” They replied almost immediately that this worked.


Practice the Give-Get.


Know when you have the leverage. Then use it.


If you’re not hearing “no” you’re probably not asking for enough. I know I love to negotiate by the number of times I hear “no”.


Oh, and I followed up to ensure the details were updated per our contract. Don’t forget the details.

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