Every negotiation begins with conflict of some sort - different points of view where both sides have strong and seemingly entrenched initial opinions about what each wants. This is called the argument stage.
But negotiations can't proceed if both parties don't move from those entrenched positions. Deadlock has to be broken otherwise neither party can proceed to any sort of end, never mind an agreeable one. This means one side has to take the plunge and be the first to make a proposal - to show that they are prepared to soften on their original stated position. This is not weakness. It is strength. It is clever. It is part of the negotiating process, for without a proposal there is stand off.
Theresa May has just made this first move in the Brexit negotiations. After months of squabbling and posturing on both sides of the channel the British prime minister made a proposal during a speech given in Florence. Any decent negotiator knows that they should reward a reasonable proposal with, at least, a reasonable counter proposal. What will the European Union negotiators do next? Will they stay in the argue stage and stall the negotiation further? Or will they do the smart thing and signal that, they too, are ready to make reasonable concessions which will help kick start the constructive stage of the process?
Property negotiation is just the same. Without concessions there is no progress. Skilled and experienced negotiators understand this. They understand how to read the negotiation road map. Which is why employing an experienced negotiator in the form of a talented estate agent is so important.
The secret to good negotiating is in understanding when to argue and when to make a proposal. For house buyers the final quarter of 2017 may be precisely the right time to make a strong proposal. So far the property market has had a slow year. This we can really put down to higher property taxes, the general election and Brexit. We certainly can't put it down to employment and mortgage interest rates.
It may be too soon to call, but there are certain signs that we are approaching, or may even have reached, the bottom of the market cycle. Knowing when to make a move is always difficult. But one thing is certain those people who think they will wait until after the Brexit negotiations are over may well be too late - all the good deals will have been done by people who understand that making a reasonable proposal early is better than reacting when it is too late. The Brexit negotiators should also bear this in mind as they enter the next round of talks this autumn.