What is a lowball offer? How low is low?

Recently I was looking at 2 -3 preamps. One was particularly interesting which was a Conrad Johnson 16LS2. The asking price was $3500. I have always wanted the 16LS2. But it was out of my price range. I couldn't make a serious offer. So I didn't and moved on. A few days later I see that it has sold for $2500! What? That was in my budget. But I would have considered that more an insult than a offer. And because I didn't want to insult the seller, I lost a good preamp to someone who was willing to take the chance. So what is the lesson learned here? Apparently I should insult more sellers . The seller wasn't insulted after all. he sold it for $2500. Or is the lesson that I take this stuff too seriously?Should sellers be insulted when offered 50% of their price?  I had thought that 10-15% below the asking price was a realistic offer. Now I'm not sure. So what do you consider a low ball offer? And please, I understand that a product is worth what someone is willing to pay. So no economic lessons please
Ag insider logo xs@2xartemus_5
Just offer what you feel you want to offer. A lot of people want things, but very few actually write a check, so anyone who is actually willing to come up with the $$ right now is a valuable commodity. I was once really lowballed on an item and I called their bluff - I said that I will accept if they PP me the money within an hour. Never heard from them again.
There are a lot of game players, but you have every right to offer what you want, as long as you’re actually willing to pull the trigger. IMO.
I get lowball offers when I list items, and just decline the offer. No big deal.

I stopped doing buy in now on my ads. I had some flakes hit the buy it now and then not buy.
I think that "low" is a relative term....if a generally well thought of piece is being offered for 50-60% of its retail value...that offer price seems reasonable and a counter offer for 50% is probably lowball and won't be taken seriously.

If the piece is being offered for 80% of retail, and its not some unique piece like a Philharmonic BMR, then the asking price is unreasonable and offering 50% is probably not unreasonable.

Also, I think that it is sometimes how you say it....example:  you are asking $2000, I'm offering $1000 take it or leave it.....vs... you are asking $2000, I'd really like to buy it, the best I can offer is $1000 which I know is low...if for some reason no one buys it and you can get closer to $1000, I'd appreciate a message.  They same the same thing but the level of respect is different.
Post removed 
More than 50% or more is a lowball.Next time step up to the plate asap!!
I think there is a way to make a low offer without it being insulting. Something along the lines of:

"Hi I've always wanted preamp X your unit looks perfect. Sadly I have limited funds if you would ever consider accepting $xxxxx please let me know and apologies if I've wasted your time"
I love haggling both as a buyer and a seller. Sadly, some people see haggling as an insult, which I've always found odd insofar as if someone matches my asking price, I tend to get suspicious.

But offering below the asking price  - and below what you're willing to max out at - is fine. Just be prepared to go higher.

You can always walk away.
Another situation is where a replacement model is more expensive... example... item A is $100 new and the “updated version” has jumped to $125....item A may now sell for 60-70% used because the replacement is more expensive. 

One one final thought that sometimes I think is ignored... it’s not what you pay, but what you can resell it for in a couple years when it’s time... examples... you know that KEF, Audio Research, parasound and others hold their value pretty well over time... so if you can resell for 50% then who cares if you have to pay 60%... your real cost was only 10%!!!
Post removed 
It's all kidology and as already stated it might be as much as HOW you approach making your lower offer that wins the day.

I never get mad or insulted at low offers and usually just counter with what figure I really want to get.
About 50% of the time it gets sold that way. If not, well still plenty of fish in the ocean.

Point being, do not be afraid to offer what you believe it is worth to you and you alone but do be prepared to back it up with a solid purchase if accepted.
Good responses and helpful to someone like me who really doesn't care to do the proverbial dance (dickering) without looking the seller in the eye. Quite honestly, it took me a long time to become comfortable with the process of "bargaining".I learned the art of it when I rode 450 miles to buy a car. They knew I was serious and so tried to get more than top dollar. It took a few hours but I got it for $300 more than I had set out to pay. that was on a $20K car. So I felt good about it.
Anyway, thanks for the feedback. 
You're not going to be incarcerated, flogged, or executed. Just tell the seller what you can afford and ask them if they would kindly consider your offer. A little respect is the key. IMO

i more or less feel that audio has become like many other products... bring out new models every few years and hype them as though they are better... even if they are not... Many new products are better... some are not. 

I’ve offered products for 70% and had to drop to 60%... and I’ve offered products for 40% and had to drop to 30%. 

Where does that leave us?  Ultimately, the market sets the price... if I offer a product at 60% thinking it is a fair offer and buyers don’t agree, then my product won’t sell.     

If im buying a product, frankly, I’m thinking as much or more about what I can resell it for down the road../ hoping to keep my cost of ownership below 20%.... sometimes it happens... sometimes not. 
Used gear should be priced about fifty percent of new. If you offer less than fifty percent that's prolly a lowball.
@mr_m. Its not a matter of repercussion to me. Its a matter of decorum. 
Used gear should be priced about fifty percent of new. If you offer less than fifty percent that's prolly a lowball.
This has been my understanding. However, I think most people anticipate they will be offered less and therefore ask more than they really are willing to take. Maybe I'm wrong but I often feel obligated to offer less because haggling seems to have  become the norm. Then too, I have a champagne taste and a beer pocketbook which often forces me to haggle.
The 16LS2 is an older preamp, long out of production. Offer what you like. It's your money, and it's up to the seller to say yes or no. You have no downside. Frankly, the idea of a low offer being an insult is a little silly in my opinion. It's not personal- it's business. I once had a buyer accept my offer and then complain I lowballed him. That I truly didn't understand. 
Nobody pays retail for new gear. Maybe 15-20% lower than retail. Therefor if a piece has a retail of 10k, a reasonable selling price, if it’s a highly regarded piece and around 3-5 yrs old, would be around 4000-4500 depending on condition. 
It’s important that you keep this in mind when you make an offer. Nobody pays retail! 
I watch the prices of my gear and while they are not new, I can get what I paid for my MC501 mono block amps and probably more than I paid for my C220 tube preamp, 9 years ago.

Well kept McIntosh gear out performs the used marketplace IMHO.

It is all brand dependent I believe.

Did you read the last sentence of my post???
Not all products these days have gone through dealers.

eg, we have a ’direct to end user’ tier of cables. (anything that says ’GC’ in the name)

Those cables are already discounted, when sold new.

To sell them for quite a bit below that price, is, well..a case of not doing your market research.

This is becoming more common, as the market advances to fewer and fewer brick and mortar dealers and more and more direct sales. Jut like the rest of the internet sales that are out there.

The trick is to figure out who is who and what is what in that arena.

I'm not sure the statement that no one pays retail is accurate....I'd be interested in hearing from some people who have purchased products from companies like Tekton, Salk, Modwright, PSAudio, Ascend, Rythmik and some of the more well known internet companies....were you able to buy direct from the company, not b stock, at a 10% discount or more...other than when they had some kind of an annual announced sale/clearance?

Yes I read the last sentence. I wholeheartedly agree that respect goes a long way. However, I see respect as what you do as much as what you say. IE, if I am having a pleasant conversation with  a gentleman who is speaking with a great amount of respect to me, yet I somehow discover his hand in my pocket, I somehow find that disrespectful of him no matter how pleasant his words. This is why I asked the original question. At what point (offer) does a person's actions show disrespect? Or is it just the way one phrases his offer the insult?
When you travel outside our country you will realize other cultures barter for everything.  We are one of the few societies that are willing to pay retail.  I have purchase expensive Stickley furniture when they have had a 45% off sale.  I often ask if you give me another 5% off we will buy it on the spot.  Then say, this is certainly better than a goose egg.
I suspected that was the case. I had never seen it done by my parents. I've learned to haggle because that is what is generally expected anymore

I think you might be over thinking the situation. Offering what you can afford is not low balling. Just use a little common sense. For example, you don't want to make an offer of only $200 to someone who is asking $1500 for what they are selling. To most, that would be an obvious low-ball offer. Your asking of 10 to 15% off a seller's asking price doesn't seem unreasonable. As one other person said,  it depends on how you say it.

I'm not sure I agree with many of the responders.

There is such a thing as the "blue book".  just like other blue books out there, one can find the high, low and average sale prices of items.

This gives a very good idea of what items are worth and what they are typically selling for.

When I buy and sell, I try to have a good idea of what the item is "worth" or what they are selling for.

I typically list items for sale at slightly below average blue book sales price.

Because I don't like to haggle.  i understand other countries and cultures.

I sell for what I feel (after research) what the item should be priced at (actually, slightly lower).

I try to not be desperate to buy or sell and I have a firm commitment to walk away or not respond if the offer is stupidly low.

Another thing, people some times feel that your listed price is one that they can dicker over.  When in many cases, it is already below blue book and it is what it is.

Also, not every used item should be and is listed at 50% below new.  That makes no sense to me.

If it is rare, it may be priced at higher that new or higher than blue book.  If it is still in production and not old at all, then no way will it be priced at 50% of new. 

my prices are slightly lower than blue book based on the condition (that I list honestly every time).  So, I don't really haggle much on the price.


I believe that an offer that one makes should be the offer one can afford to make and immediately pay if the offer is accepted. I also feel that a prior communication with the seller can go a long way to come to a fair tranaction that satisfies both the seller and buyer.
So many people are so afraid they might be paying too much. Oh the horror if one finds one less expensive after they buy something. And as it has been already stated, even after accepting a lowball offer, often times they still don’t buy it. I NEVER make an offer I am not prepared to pay IMMEDIATELY. And I never accept an offer I do not expect to be paid IMMEIDIATELY. So many wishy-washy types.

I have stopped bothering to list items on Audiogon because in my experience these problems are worse than on other place I list my gear.

I have had people email me for up to a YEAR about something I have for sale, trying to decide. I finally told one I would not sell anything to him no matter what. He came back that he did not understand why people (apparently he does this to others as well) get upset just sitting at a computer and answering questions. I told him people get angry answering the same questions over and over again for a year from the same person. And that HE was not the only person asking questions.
You never know why someone lists an item for sale.  Do they need to sell, do they just want to see what they can get for the item, are they thinking of upgrading etc etc.  You will not get a sense of a seller's motivation if you do not engage the seller.

I try to make sure I am never in a position where I have to sell an item.   I generally research CMV, and set my price a little higher than that.  Sometimes the item sells immediately, sometimes not.  But I always sell for my price.

Most of my equipment was purchased used.  I have no qualms about offering what *I* think is a fair price....it is my money after all.  If the seller disagrees, then we agree to disagree.  If the seller makes a counter offer then I know a deal can be made.   Everything I have purchased would qualify as a "good deal" in the opinion of many observers.  

Offer what the item is worth to you.  Be polite.  Be firm.  Be prepared to move on.  There will always be another seller.
Every situation is different. Factors that make a given offer "reasonable" vs "lowball" include:

1 - Whether the unit being offered F.S. was purchased used or new
2 - Age & condition of the unit
3 - Relative rarity and/or reputation of the unit
4 - Reputation of the seller

Let's say I purchased a new headphone for $3K, then sell it after 2-3 months, in perfect condition, relatively little use. It's a much in demand headphone. My instincts in these matters tell me that an aggressive price would be $70%-80% of list, incl. paypal & shipping in U.S. (everyone pays list for this thing when new). Given all that, if someone offered me 50% I'd laugh in their face--a clear lowball. But if I'm @80% of list and someone offers 70%, it's not lowball at all. They've done their research & we can start dickering...
If you make an offer that is 25% of asking, a vendor might shake his head at you as a time waster, but their idea of worth may decline as time passes and the item remains unsold..

I have made offers many times where I told the seller what I was willing to pay, and said that the offer was good until I found something else instead. A portion of those offers were accepted later on when the item sat without selling.

I got one classic car that way three years after making the offer...
More than 50% of retail for a used item, usually with no warranty, no realistic return option, from an unknown seller, seems absurd to me. Offer whatever you want, the seller may need cash right away.  The Golden Rule: whoever has the gold makes the rules.

I don't mind paying a little more than strictly necessary for a "safe" sale - someone I know or am familiar with on 'Gon, or with a lot of great feedback, or local.  But that's not so much for the item, it's for a enhanced likelihood of peace of mind. 

Example. There is one particular set of used but not old cables on usaudiomart for $1300, retail about $4000. He has been trying to sell them since January. They are great cables - WyWires Diamond RCAs .75 M pair. What should I offer if I wanted them ? The price already seems more than reasonable, but he can't sell them for that. If I was willing to get into this I would offer $950 plus shipping. But I am a relatively poor man, this is all big money for me. If I was not I would buy them for the asking $1300. Let's pay our share.
My father sold cars for 35 years (Pontiacs from mid-60s to mid-70s was his heyday). I referenced the Blue Book once upon a time while talking to him about cars (which, oddly enough, we seldom talked in any detail about). He said "you can take a Zippo to that Blue Book of yours. A car (or boat, or guitar, or pair of speakers, or SS amplifier....) is only worth what someone will give you for it." Which would certainly seem to be the case.
A corollary to that is "a car (or boat, or guitar, or pair of speakers, or SS amplifier....) is only worth to me what I will pay for it."
And you don’t always know what that is until you ask or offer.
If the seller gets insulted.............in my world, likely not the type of person I’d typically enjoy doing business with any way, so........"no offense intended. Thanks for your time, good luck with your sale."
And onward.

Begin the process by expressing to the seller how much you appreciate the opportunity to buy said product. That while you don't want to offend the seller, you do want everyone to feel good in the end. The make a reasonable offer.
Low is low when a Chinese guy from Las Vegas offers you 800 bucks on a item that your selling for 2500 !
Post removed