A relative of mine, whom I'll call Tania, owns the larger bedroom of a two-bedroom apartment in Moscow, Russia, while the other bedroom is owned by a guy completely unrelated to her, whom I'll call Oleg. This kind of situation is common in Russia: it was a communal apartment, that is, an apartment given by the Communist government to unrelated families for share between them. Tania and Oleg are descendants of those families. Tania currently leases her bedroom to other people and lives elsewhere, whereas Oleg inherited his bedroom just a few months ago and hasn't leased it yet. Like Tania, he lives elsewhere.
A month ago Oleg sent Tania an email suggesting it was to their mutual benefit to resolve this awkward situation, and offering to buy the bedroom Tania owns.
Tania was eager to resolve the situation, too, so she asked for details: (1) how much he was prepared to pay, (2) how much he himself would agree to sell his bedroom to Tania for, and (3) whether he would agree to jointly sell the apartment for as much as they could get, and split the money in proportion to the area of each bedroom.
In response, for Tania's bedroom, Oleg offered an amount that is about 40-45% of the market price of the entire apartment, despite Tania's bedroom being larger than Oleg's. For his own bedroom, Oleg quoted practically the same figure and referred to it as a "ballpark figure" he "might discuss." He added that a joint sell was "possible," but didn't say anything about splitting the money in that case.
Tania responded that she wasn't interested unless Oleg was prepared to negotiate on the basis of the areas of the bedrooms. She explicitly wrote the following formula: Tania's share = Market price of the apartment * Area of Tania's bedroom / Sum of the areas of the bedrooms. Tania emphasized that according to that formula, her share is 55%. She asked what objections Oleg had against that formula.
In response, Oleg sent an email that can be summarized as follows:
I agree that if a joint property is sold to a third party, the money is split in proportion to the area of each bedroom. But our situation is different: I am offering you money for your bedroom. You can't find anyone on the market who'll buy your bedroom for more than X roubles. I'm offering you Y roubles, so it's more than a fair deal for you.
The numbers X and Y in his email are about 30-35% and 40-45% of the market price of the entire apartment, respectively, with Y coinciding with Oleg's original offer.
Oleg's offer is clearly unfair in the sense that if Tania agrees, Oleg then can then sell the entire apartment and thereby end up having more money than Tania despite initially owing a smaller bedroom. So Tania is stuck as to how to deal with such an offensive offer.
First of all, the market price of the apartment is about 200,000 USD, which is roughly 20 median annual salaries in Moscow, so it's a high-stakes negotiation, and thus Tania has to choose her words and arguments carefully.
Apart from the two bedrooms themselves, the apartment has some common areas: a kitchen, a hall with no windows, a bathroom, and a toilet room. On paper, Tania owns those common areas in proportion of the area of her bedroom, and she gets bills accordingly, with her share of the common areas explicitly shown in bills. There's a logic behind that share of the common areas: since Tania's bedroom is larger, it can accommodate more people. And more people will use the common areas more. Oleg himself explicitly admitted that if a joint property is sold to a third party, the money is split in proportion to the area of each bedroom.
However, while Oleg emphasizes he has enough cash to buy Tania out, she doesn't have enough cash to buy Oleg out. She might be able to get a sufficient bank loan, but that's hard and complicated. If Oleg then changes his mind about letting Tania buy him out, Tania will face a considerable loss, although this might be possible to prevent by signing a special contract with Oleg in advance, if he agrees to sign such a contract at all. Oleg obviously tries to exploit the fact that he has enough cash.
At any rate, Tania owns a separate apartment and is no need of money, so she can afford saying NO to Oleg's offer --- and will definitely prefer doing so to living knowing she was ripped off.
Tania's goal is to reach any deal in which she gets the fair share, that is, 55%, now or at any point of the future. To reach that end, she must decline Oleg's current offer, but do it properly and thereby keep the negotiation open towards her goal. The question is how to do it. If Tania's response provokes animosity, the matter may become very personal and thus especially hard to resolve, but a too wishy-washy response might fail to get the point across.
A huge complicating factor is that in the Russian culture, budging on an offer is generally tantamount to losing face, especially for men, and that's why Russian men are perhaps the toughest negotiators in the world. And we expect it to be especially true for Oleg, because his family and relatives are most likely closely following the negotiation, so he will avoid losing face in front of them at all costs. If Tania tells Oleg, directly or indirectly, that he is being unfair and trying to rip her off, he'll get offended and won't be motivated to budge on his offer, because doing so will imply his admission to having been unfair, which is tantamount to losing face. So Tania has to come up with something that Oleg might use as an excuse for budging on the offer. The argument "you are being unfair and should change your offer" simply doesn't work in Russia.
An example of what works in Russia is something like:
Oleg, what you say is very reasonable, but you just happened not to know one detail. The detail is that ... How do you think your offer should be changed in view of that detail?
But what could be that detail in Tania's case? Oleg is just being blatantly unfair and it's hard to come up with any excuse for that.
Tania and I have a few ideas, but feel that none of them hits the bull's eye. Here are some of them:
(1) Why should I agree to less than 55% if I can get 55% if we jointly sell the entire apartment? You said that the whole sell is possible, and confirmed that my formula applies for the whole sell.
(2) Well, if you say that my formula applies only if we jointly sell the apartment, let's jointly sell the apartment then.
(3) Can you confirm you are prepared to sell your bedroom to me for Z roubles? It looks like it's more profitable to me to buy you out and then pocket the whole sell rather than agree to sell you my bedroom for X roubles.
The problem with such responses is that they sound hostile and confrontational and leave no option for Oleg to budge on his offer without losing face. Moreover, such responses sound as if Tania wanted to get as much as she can get rather than reach a fair deal.
Another idea is:
My relatives told me they'll lose any respect towards me if I agree to less than my fair share of the whole sell. I'm so sorry for that, but I can't accept your offer. If, at some point of the future, you find it acceptable for yourself to pay me that share or jointly sell the apartment, let me know, and I'll be happy to make a deal with you. Otherwise let's just do nothing and pass the issue to the next generation. Hopefully they'll find a way to sort it out."
The tone of the message is perfect, but the excuse is rather weak and sounds made-up.
I hope you now realize how difficult Tania's task is, and that's why I'm asking this question.
How to decline Oleg's offer, but avoid causing animosity and making him feel he'll lose face if he changes his mind?