Home Negotiation Do’s and Don’ts

You usually don’t get what you don’t ask for when negotiating. So ask responsibly. You want to create a reasonable and fair offer that benefits both parties.

In the process, there are some Do’s and Don’ts that can help make sure you are getting a good deal.

Home buying negotiation

Do’s:

  • Have your real estate agent negotiate for you. An experienced and reputable agent will help you get the deal you want. They should know the market, pressure points for sellers, common and flexible areas of negotiation, and how to time offers and counter offers. Much of the negotiating process is a business dance of sorts. Your realtor will know how to dance well.
  • Know what is most important to you. Knowing this will help temper a common desire to defeat the seller. If you get what matters most to you, you will know what are more flexible negotiating points for you. For instance, is a rock-bottom price more important than having the seller make expensive repairs to the home? Are you more interested in the closing date or that the seller pays the closing costs?
  • Learn the seller’s motivation to sell the home. Knowing whether the seller is looking for a quick sale, has not been able to sell the house for some time, or other factors can help you and your realtor craft an offer that satisfies the seller better.
  • Get it in writing and pictures. If appliances, furniture, or other features are included, spell it out in the contract. Take pictures of what’s included too, so it is very clear to both parties what has been agreed to.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t give a lowball offer. Using a realtor will help prevent you from offering too low and insulting the seller. You would rather get a counter offer from the seller, rather than have the seller tell you to take a hike.
  • Don’t base your offer off of an estimated value you saw online. Online services that list home values can be extremely inaccurate. Trust your realtor to help you come up with the right offer to make. If the home is listed at or below fair market value, it’s unlikely you will get it for less. However, if it’s priced above fair market value and it’s been on the market for a while, a lower offer would be an appropriate starting point.
  • Don’t get hung up on decor. Things like paint, window coverings, light fixtures, appliances, countertops, and carpet can all be easily changed. Don’t make these a focal part of your negotiations. Focus on more important things instead.
  • Don’t show your hand. While you want to learn the seller’s motivation for selling, you do not want to let the seller know any vulnerabilities like how much you’d be willing to concede to get the home. Especially don’t show any desperation, no matter how much you want the home.

Keep your options open as you begin negotiations. Be willing to walk away over major issues, and be willing to compromise where it makes sense to you. Negotiation is your friend. Use all of these tips to make your purchase that much sweeter.

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