Beyond the information that is included in an ad, there is other information available if you look for certain words and phrases.
Ads that outright say “Price is Firm” or “Will not consider lower offers” usually mean it. You can try but count yourself lucky if you manage to get them to waver just slightly on their price. Same thin often can be said for ads that don’t use these phrases but have been listed for a month or two. The best time to get a deal is when the listing is new, with some exceptions.
Words and phrases that are a positive sign though include “Must sell”, “Immediately”, “ASAP”, “Best reasonable offer”, “Selling to pay bills/rent/etc.”. When this is in an add it is an open door to offering what is often referred to as a ‘low-ball’ offer – basically an offer much lower than the asking price.
Lowball offers are often best received if you don’t simply send a message saying “I’ll give you $##”. Properly done, you should include some of your research in your offer – explaining that you realize that you are offering much less than they are asking for, however you have seen the last one to sell on eBay only went for $##, and/or that there are several others listed in your area.
The main response from lowball offers is a “no.” Sometimes there will be a counter offer and you can go from there. On rare occasions, your lowball offer will be accepted as is.
If the must sell type words aren’t being used in the ad, you may still want to offer a lowball offer. Since they seem less urgent than the first ads, you should use a two-reply method to these ads. Break the ice first with a relevant question about the gear that isn’t necessarily obvious from the ad. “Are you the original owner?”, “Any fret buzz?”, “Is it all original parts?”. Once they reply then you make your offer. It lets the seller feel like they have a little relationship with you first, instead of just offering them a low amount directly.
Written by Michael Zelle