As you may have guessed, I am crazy about negotiation stories. I like hearing people who helped themselves, I like knowing that people can get a better price without sacrificing anything and in the end of the day, it comes down to one thing:
I like helping people save money.
So, today I have a perfect example of how to negotiate.
I’m a regular person. I don’t have any secrets, I don’t think I’m naturally charming, and I’m not the kind of person who just runs into luck at every corner. I’m normal, just like you.
On Thursday, I went to sign a lease on a new apartment. Everything was pretty straightforward: $1,500 monthly rent (combined with my roommate), with all utilities included. I would move in August 1st, and I expected it to be a quick process of signing some papers.
We checked out the apartment to make sure there weren’t any surprises. Everything looked the way I wanted. THere were a few minor issues that needed to be taken care of, but there was a week left before the move in date, so I wasn’t worried.
The leasing agent wanted to go through the paperwork with me, which I thought was a waste of time, and for the most part, I just listened as he told me that we shouldn’t break down any walls, leave the place trashed, or start a retail business out of our apartment. Pretty basic.
Then he got to the utilities portion, which showed that all utilities were included – except for electricity. I told him that when I spoke to Stephanie, who showed us the apartment, she said that all utilities were included. Marc, the leasing agent, said that they don’t do that for any of their properties.
Then we had an awkward silence. I sat there, contemplating my next move. I was stuck in a corner. Paying for electricity wouldn’t be the best thing because I thought I knew what I was getting myself into, but I didn’t really have many options.
I stared at the piece of paper a bit longer. It had maybe been 15-20 seconds since either of us had said anything. And apparently that was enough for Marc to break the silence.
“I can’t pay that for you because the bill goes straight to you, but I can give you half off the 2nd month’s rent.”
Um, hell yah! Are you kidding me? $750 back? We know some other people who live in that building and their electricity bills average around $30 per month.
So $750 comes out to $62.50 a month, meaning we’ll actually be saving money on this miscommunication.
I didn’t even ask. I just sat there. And I saved nearly $400. That is pretty damn awesome.
So the next time you’re in a tight spot and aren’t sure where to take the negotiations, try waiting for the other person to make the first move. Just because I was in a tight spot doesn’t mean the other party wanted to sit in awkward silence any more.