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Art of Negotiating in Ghana

Early one Sunday  I rose to a beautiful morn,  in Cape Coast, overlooking the ocean, after a splendid evening spent celebrating my brother’s wedding.  I was jolted from that lovely space by a call from the seller of a piece of land I had negotiated for a client the previous week.  He started in by saying he didn’t overstand me before, he thought I was buying 2 plots, not 2 acres, the difference of which is enormous.  My mouth dropped and I started yelling and stuttering.   He was demanding I come and see him that day.  I told him I couldn’t come, but would send my partner.  Then I calmed down.  Knowing my people I soon realized his ploy and realized by over-reacting he had already gained the upper hand.   So I waited to hear from my partner, a very competent negotiator.  He  eventually called with an alternative price, so clearly there was never the misunderstanding of plots or acres, this was just how he wanted to re-negotiate the deal.  This happens, especially after some get wind of what they think is a direct link to foreign currency.  This after I performed all the rites and paid all the fees.  That little demon on his shoulder got better of him.

Since I hate being played and I hate to disappoint a client I had to be tactful.  But I couldn’t accept his new offer, I insisted that my partner get him to recognize that we had already given the buyer a price and could not change it.  Later on that evening, after I had returned to Accra I received a call that a new deal had been struck which would increase the amount by $1,000, less than a  10% increase on the total.  Not a deal breaker if suggested during negotiations, but a mess to explain to a client who had already wired required funds. The thing is, I do not jew down the sellers.  I know the going rates in most areas and I am always willing to pay at the top end of it.  I really do a balancing act of ensuring my client gets the best deal and the seller gets a fair rate for his property.  It is, after all, land, one of the most valuable assets available to man.   But once I realized the game in progress, I began making some calls.  I had previously purchased land in that same area just 2 or 3 years ago and so I was able to find more land relatively easy.  I met with a reasonable seller, did the dance and struck a deal that actually saved my client $1,000.

Instead of informing the first seller, we let him call us daily, trying to find out when we would come to pay.  Once the second deal was closed we met with him and explained that his tactics were unscrupulous, but if he would be more reasonable in the future we would come for some of his land.  (He does have beautiful land, with an awesome view.)  He didn’t exactly get it and continued to call, asking us when we would come to pay.  Apparently he needed the money desperately, but thought he was holding our balls in his hands, so he squeezed.  A fool’s move in a buyer’s market, but a lesson just the same.  As recently as yesterday (3 weeks after the deal was squashed) he sent message that he prepared to take whatever price we haveJ Needless to say, it doesn’t always work out this well.