As a homebuyer, unless you are buying direct from the owner, you’ll not negotiate with the seller of the home you have your eye on.
That’s our job. We negotiate on your behalf. So, when we talk about buyer negotiations with sellers, we’re referring to indirect negotiations through us, your agent, as middle-person.
Unless you’re an attorney, a salesperson, or in another occupation that requires ongoing negotiating practice, negotiating is not something you probably do on a regular basis (negotiating with your kids doesn’t count!).
When we negotiate on your behalf, we strive to get you exactly what you want. That doesn’t mean we being nasty of making the other party feel like they are in a win/lose situation. A successful negotiation will leave all parties feeling satisfied.
Poor negotiating tactics can railroad a real estate deal, instantly. Let’s take a look at some of these to help you avoid losing out on that home you want.
1. Don’t Use the Home Inspection to Negotiate a New Price
We highly suggest that all homebuyers have professional pest and home inspections during escrow. Depending on the home, we might also suggest a pool, roof, or other inspections. Even with newer homes. As a buyer, you want to know everything possible about the condition of the home you are purchasing.
The inspector will issue a report, listing all of the findings from the inspection of the home.
Sometimes there are significant problems found. When this is the case, depending on the severity of the problems, we suggest asking for repairs, or in extreme cases even walking away from the deal.
Often, even lesser issues need to be addressed. We then work with the seller’s agent to get them addressed.
What we highly suggest is that you not be unreasonable during this process. Many of the issues found were likely visible during your visits or can be addressed at minimal cost. That doesn’t mean you should ingnore the inspectors findings, it just means that in almost every case this isn’t the time to start renegotiating the purchase price.
Generally, health and safety issues are the primary issues you should be concerned with being certain are repaired. Cosmetic and mechanical issues can also be part of the discussion.
Keep in mind that the seller has the option of making repairs, and ususally we suggest this is the best course of action. Sometimes a credit at closing will be a better option so you can make repairs on your own. Many times, sellers won’t even consider replacing or repairing defects that don’t affect your ability to live comfortably and safely in the home and that can be remedied easily and inexpensively.
However, everything is negotiable and we are here to negotiate on your behalf. Your choices post inspection include:
- Asking the seller to make the repairs
- Asking for a credit so you can do the repairs yourself
- Asking the seller to decrease the price of the home to compensate for the cost of repairs
- Walk away from the deal
The homeowner’s choices include saying yes or no to the first two, coming up with a list of what he or she is willing to deal on, or deciding not to continue with the sale.
If you really want the home, think twice about reopening negotiations unless the home’s defects are major and will require great expense.
2. Don’t Insist on Making a Lowball Offer
Of course you want the best deal possible, and there are times when we suggest a lowball offer is a worthwhile tactic. Other times, though, a very low offer on a home you truly want to purchase is can backfire.
If a home has been languishing on the market, the seller might be willing to look at any offer they can get. Just as likely, though, an extremely low offer might be a red flag to a seller that you are unreasonable and will be unreasonable throughout the transaction. It might be even viewed as insulting.
It also makes you appear like a bargain hunter, ruining your credibility in the eyes of the seller.
A homeowner has several choices when confronted by a low offer. Unfortunately, many of them feel so insulted they won’t even respond (though we always encourage our sellers to respond to every offer. It’s always better to be having a conversation about price than not having any conversations at all!).
As a buyer, your lowball offer has a strong chance of getting you shut out of the conversation completely. If you are making an offer on a home you’d really like to buy, it is our suggestion that your offer reflect that desire. We will help you determine a good price to open with.
3. Don’t Assume the Seller Wants to Part with Personal Belongings
There are times when a seller might consider including personal items in the sale, or more often, selling them to the buyer outside of the home purchase agreement. Maybe they don’t want to move the hot tub or the pool table. Maybe they had items custom built that are specific to the home but are not what we call “fixtures.” (“Fixtures” are items that are physically attached to the house and are assumed part of the sale unless explicitly excluded in the listing or purchase contract).
Before you start asking that they leave the home’s furniture, appliances and the dog, keep in mind that in many cases the seller has every intention of taking their personal items with them to their new home.
Unless expressly stated in the contract, the homeowner is selling their home, not their personal belongings.
Asking for too much makes you appear impersonal and greedy – not someone a seller is likely going to enjoy negotiating with.
Remember, especially in a market that favors sellers, is that the seller may be looking at other offers. Go in with your best and highest offer and try to keep it as “clean” and reasonable as possible.
We’re happy to show you how to get the home of your dreams at good and fair price!
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