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3rd January
written by LS Girl

Making an offer on a house (or car, or boat, or herd of alpaca) can be a challenge.  What’s the magic number?

My hope is that you know someone who has offered you such good advice, you literally don’t know where you would be without it.  One of my moments occurred when I was approaching 30.  I had a personal goal of owning a home by this age.  My finances were in order, and the bank said I could mortgage away such a large percentage of my income, that I would actually be one broken leg away from homelessness.  At the time, I had not yet read, “Your Money Or Your Life”, which subsequently changed my views and opinions on many things, including home ownership.

Circa 1996.  It’s a beautiful day, and I am house hunting with printouts in hand, and an agent by my side.  I am driving in my sporty Subaru Impreza thinking,  is this my new home, as I pull up in front of yet another for sale sign.  This goes on for a few months.

Meanwhile, one afternoon my boss inquires, “How’s the house search coming?”  I explain (in so many words he wished he’d never asked) that it is, “going ok”.  He closed the conversation with this advice:

Listen, kid.  When you find the one, you’re going to be all excited.  Don’t let anyone push you in to making an offer.  Go home, and do this exercise:

1)    Sit down, without any of the house details in front of you, go from memory.

2)    Picture the current owner/seller sitting across from you; if you don’t know what they look   like, it helps if you imagine them to be homely.

3)    Start saying numbers, beginning with the asking price and reducing from there.  $150,000.  $146,000. $132,000. $129,000. $122,000.

4)    Keep doing this until you say a number that kicks you in the stomach because it is “an insult” to the seller.  This is your offer number.


I call it:  The Insult Technique, or “tit” for short(because it makes me feel like I’m in eighth grade).

Since acquiring that first home, I have bought and sold other properties, and worked with close friends and relatives using this technique.  “You saved me ($80k, $30k, $10k…).  I would have never made that offer without using The Insult Technique.”

This technique is useful in any situation where you are expected to make an offer, and the sale is between two people or parties.  Try it.  You’ll be surprised.


house for sale


It’s hard to walk the fine line between what is ACTUALLY an insult, and what is a reasonable low offer, here are a few additional guidelines:

By talking your way down, in small increments (2% – 5% of asking price), when you feel that gut response, you’re slightly above what would actually be an insult, yet below where you’d be on your own.  It rarely hurts to ask, and everyone feels better when they have the opportunity to negotiate. Additionally, if the counter offer is closer to the asking price, see if the seller will throw in material items you may need or want, like a washer/dryer, a kitchen island, light fixtures, small watercraft,  accessories, or free delivery.

When buying a newer car from a dealer, after the price is set, always close with, “throw in a second set of floor mats, and I’ll sign right now.”  A new set will help to make your car look brand new when YOU go to sell it. Or, if you are a 300k + mile, ten year minimum car owner… break out your new mats around year four or five and enjoy that new car smell, once again.

Happy New Year, and Best Wishes to you all.


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  1. Gary

    Also, make your offer from a bar.

  2. 08/01/2013

    Excellent suggestion. I hear it works!