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Buying a horse - making an offer

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  • Buying a horse - making an offer

    I'm in the process of shopping for a horse for Mr. PoPo and have come across a couple horses that are interesting. It has been a few years since we've bought and at the time the horses we purchased were fairly priced - some we negotiated on, some we didn't.

    Sellers, what % of a full-price offer is insulting? 50%? 75%? Do you care what type of home the horse goes to and does that factor into your negotiating? Do you set the price expecting to negotiate?

    I know everyone is different, but seeing as I seem to buy but not sell, I don't have a lot of experience on the other side of things!
    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

  • #2
    I try not to be offended by serious offers, assuming the offer is not made in an offensive way, and to just counter back, even if we are far apart. I have refused some silly offers (10% of asking, "I'd take him for free") because it seemed like a waste of time.

    That said, sellers can be easily offended and refuse to counter any offer. I have offended sellers with what I thought were reasonable offers (75-80%, with good reason).

    IMO it depends on how much you want the horse, and how much you think it is worth. If it is wildly overpriced and not worth more than 50% of the asking price to you, then it never hurts to ask, and if they are offended it wasn't going to work for you anyway. On the other hand, if you like it, and it is fairly priced, it might not be worth risking the seller by going low, just to see if you can save a little.


    • #3
      My favorite way of asking is "What do you have to have for him?" Then I can see where they are at. I don't like to price other people's stock for them the first go-round. Then I shoot low and make an offer. The market is as soft as hot butter right now and anyone seriously wanting to sell will entertain offers or counter-offer.
      America dialed 911. Donald Trump answered the phone.

      Stop pumping money into colleges and start getting ready to earn money in the projected tradesman shortage of 2024. Make Trades Great Again!


      • #4
        What percentage of an asking price you offer also depends on the price range you're shopping in. If you offer 25k for a 50k horse, I think that's insulting. But if you offer 50% of a 3k horse, maybe not as insulting. So many factors involved. Your home, experience, intended use. The horse's experience, behavior, PPE. Personally I would never go as low as 50% off, but I would never be looking at a horse whose price was twice as much as I'm prepared to pay to begin with.
        "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George


        • #5
          I think a lot would depend on if you're having the horse vetted and what that shows - and what you plan to do w/ the horse and what the horse's asking price is. If the horse has some issues - i.e. older, maintenance etc then use that as a bargining chip but don't randomly offer 50% less just because. I'd tell you to take a hike.. Of course there are always exceptions - has the seller been trying to sell this horse for awhile? A gal I know has this pony for sale, been for sale for 4 or 5 years... she wanted $7500 or more for it, was offered $1,500 for it a couple of years ago and turned it down. That was dumb on her part - she lives out of the country and has now paid at least triple her asking price in board.


          • #6
            I was asking $3500 for my OTTB, but took $1500 for her because of the home that she was going to and the fact that she tore her feet all up the DAY before the woman made the offer. As a seller, a good home meant more to me than $$.

            My rule is that if I can't afford 100% of the purchase price, then I don't go look at the horse... then I usually offer 75%. Usually I can get an idea of the seller when I go look at the horse anyways and can get a good idea of if they'll be offended or not. Lots of factors! Good luck on your search for a hubby horse. I've been kind of sort of looking and... geeze. You'd think that the husband safe horse was going extinct.


            • #7
              I took less than half of my asking price when I sold my gelding. The buyer and I had conversed via email for a couple days before her appointment, and she made me an offer via email to make sure we weren't wasting each other's time. She showed up with a trailer and the cash, so he left with her. I was more interested in a compatible home (he could be a handful) and I knew I'd make up the difference in a few months in not having to pay board.
              Alis volat propriis.


              • #8
                I am ok with low offers IF the buyer tells me they have a much lower budget than asking BEFORE they come out, or if the horse shows an issue on the PPE that will require additional maintenance expense.

                I do more or less expect people to want to negotiate, but to me that means 90% or $500 off on a cheaper horse.
                Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                • #9
                  It never hurts to ask. Be clear on your numbers with yourself...know your cutoff points so that you can raise comfortably if needed.

                  I once negotiated for a horse sight unseen. He was listed as a $500 pasture ornament. The story itself is quite long, but essentially if I was reading between the lines correctly, he was body sore, not useless. I told the lady that if she needed to move him, I would take him and put the money into getting him comfortable. Five years later, we are still riding him.
                  "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams


                  • #10
                    It really depends on the horse. Most people I know overprice their horse and will take less, sometimes FAR less. I bought my own horse for less than 50% of the asking price because 1) they were getting a bit desperate 2) while a nice, normal horse with his skills would have gone for his list price, he can be a finicky jerkface who will only show off those skills with the right rider, making the pool of potential buyers very small 3) they knew I would love him forever. I knew all of this going in so I felt confident with my offer. If I should ever sell him I would probably use a similar strategy because riders looking for that level of horse aren't generally going to be looking in the lower price ranges, so the trick is really just to get someone to try him and go from there. If you click with him you get a steal and if you don't you wouldn't take him even if he were free so price is irrelevant at that point. (Based on my experience with my horse, I really recommend having two people ride any horse you try - unless you plan to be the only rider forever the ability of a horse to accept different styles of riding can impact resale)

                    I ride at a barn that sells a lot of horses in the $40-100K range and they generally sell for 20-30% less than asking depending on the circumstances. I've found this to be true at the other sales barns I know of around here as well.


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks for the comments. I don't shop above my budget assuming I'd be able to negotiate, but then again I am also one to price things fairly if I sell - I don't price to negotiate.

                      I actually find shopping for a husband horse harder than shopping for myself. The list of requirements is different - for example, movement is less important than temperament. The horse must be safe and have experience with beginners and be substantial enough to carry a 6'/200-lb. man . . . and yet be fun and have a decent jump and move straight and have good feet and on and on and on!
                      "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


                      • #12
                        Timely thread because I just went through a sale with a prospective buyer and ended up declining all offers she made. Now I sell an uncommon breed that is not readily available in large numbers in many states. Of course, you can always go buy a different breed. I also sell enough horses each year that I'm pretty aware of the market. I get horses consigned to me to sell for others. When I sell a horse, I am very upfront about pricing and how firm I am about it. It does vary from horse to horse.

                        About 10 days ago a prospective buyer, one who had been to my farm three times over the past two years and was familiar, or so I thought, with what I had for sale made me a lowball offer on a pushbutton mare who rode and drove like a champ and had a performance record to prove it. It was for 55% of the asking price. I sell unbroken young stock for that price. I say thanks but no thanks politely. I make no counter offer. Buyer states she is a first timer and makes another offer. This time it is 70% of the asking price. Buyer claims that is all the money she has. I thank her, say I know about financial limitations, and suggest she look for an older horse that suits her needs to get a price she can afford. I figure she is going away because she said she hit her maximum. But no she comes back again with 91% of the asking price. Guess what? I say no and repeat that the price is firm and I am happy to keep the horse, which is entirely true.

                        Now if she had started at the 91% mark, maybe I would have taken a little bit off in a counter offer. What she seemed oblivious to is the fact that I am not the most motivated seller. I don’t have to sell any horse to anyone and there are definitely times that I decline offers. As a seller, it is not heartening for me to hear that a buyer is cash strapped. It makes me wonder if you can afford care and upkeep for the horse. At least I can afford to feed them and provide farrier/vet care if they stay with me.

                        When I am buying, I generally do not haggle. If the horse is fairly priced for what it is, I am not going to try to beat out every penny from the seller. I also know my market very well.

                        As others have said, it really depends. My advice is if you find a horse you really like, get a good idea from the seller on flexibility and offer a price that at least offers you a place to start negotiation.
                        Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


                        • #13
                          I figure it can't hurt to make an offer, even if the asking price is fair, BUT I never lowball people. I just bought a horse a week and a half ago, mid four figures and offered 85%, they countered with 91% and I took it. I would have paid their asking price but figured I'd see if I could get them to come down any, figured it was worth a shot even though he was priced fairly.

                          If I was going to look at something and the seller told me in advance the price was firm there is no way I'd make any sort of offer.

                          ETA: I also just sold a horse, and I would have taken 75% of my asking price. Turned out I didn't get any offers, I then sent him to a trainer to be sold, she priced him higher and I ended up getting my full original asking price after paying her commission.


                          • #14
                            Unless the asking price is clearly stated as "firm, " I always figure there is some wiggle room.
                            And yes, I have been flat out refused when I was expecting a counter offer. Part of the game...
                            interestingly 2 years later, those horses are still listed for sale, some for a lower price, and I know the owners have spent way more on board /feed than the few hundreds I was asking them to lower.
                            "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


                            • #15
                              I purchased 2 horses for low-mid 5 figures each over the past 15 years. Both were offered by private individuals and were exactly what I wanted. My trainer asked if there was room for negotiation and both times the answer was No. So I paid full price and they were both worth every penny. But I was willing from the start to pay the asking price or I would not have traveled to see the horses. Good luck with the husband horse hunting - they are worth their weight in gold!


                              • #16
                                The only time I think that sellers have grounds to get all offended is if the prospective buyer has sucked up a ton of their time. Otherwise, IT'S NOT PERSONAL, it's a sales process, and many folks will make an offer that is a percentage of the list price. That's common to the process.

                                If you are businesslike, organized, and decisive in your dealings, you can make any offer you want, and sellers may or may not take it, or counter.

                                In this economy, I can't see not at least countering, if the prospective owner seems like an appropriate and sufficiently knowledgeable home.
                                I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
                                I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


                                • #17
                                  I was not offended by the lowball offer I received, but it was too low to even merit a counter-offer. I was surprised at the two subsequent offers. I don't think we would ever have come to an agreement on value and that's fine. Today I learned about an older horse who might be a great fit for the buyer and in a price range she can afford comfortably. I have had great experiences buying older horses, so I sent her the listing and recommended she look at the horse. I know the horse's breeder and long-time prior owner, plus the horse has great bloodlines and it's located in her state. I don't know if she will look at the mare, but hope she will. The lady was nice enough and I would love to see her get a Fjord. It just won't be my Fjord.
                                  Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


                                  • #18
                                    I drove 4 hours and booked a hotel room so I could ride a horse twice after spending a week talking to the seller. It turned out the seller was more of a dealer and a unorganized one; she did take me out to dinner at a local diner. The next morning rode again and afterwards asked for her best price, that's all I said, "What is your best price on this horse (he was advertised for $18,000) Wow, she wigged out on me like I offered $5 for the horse. All I could do was stand there and when she was done told her I was sorry she felt that way, then left. It was very strange.
                                    "You gave your life to become the person you are right now. Was it worth it?" Richard Bach


                                    • #19
                                      ok so if I am looking to buy a horse..... say I have 5000.00 (for the sake of this topic) when searching for horses on websites is it reasonable to look at horses for 8000.00? I am always afraid of insulting someone and I always look at price so not to waste anyones time and don't bother with P.T. at all.....I hate tire kickers and don't want to be one but I figure there is wiggle room in price.

                                      Also question for buyers/sellers.......Is it good to just be up front with you about my max price? or should haggling be done after horse has been seen and tried? esp if the horse is a longish drive away.


                                      • #20
                                        If you have $5000, I would not look at an $8000 horse unless the seller tells you that the price may be negotiable. When you are that far from the asking price, I think you need to ask if the price is negotiable when you first talk with the owner. If the price is not potentially negotiable, you are wasting everyone's time if you go and look at the horse.