13 HOT TIPS for Home Buying Negotiations
13 HOT TIPS for Home Buying Negotiations
( #6 will shock you )
How $$ low $$ will the seller go is a home buying negotiation question that is never clear until you make an offer. Until then it is only a guess, because no one really knows for sure…not even the seller's agent.
Just because a property is listed for a certain price, does not mean that you can’t get it for less…or even that you might agree to pay more.
The list price is just the sticker price. The rest is all about negotiating the property to your satisfaction of price and terms.
Everything depends on what a property is worth to you. Are there a lot of homes just like this one to choose from? Or is this one of a kind property that you have been dreaming of? Is this a really special house or does it have a waterfront lot to die for? What and how you negotiate the house is dependent on how badly you want it.
Here are some HOT HOME BUYING TIPS that will influence your home negotiations:
1. Size up the list price? Get the details.
Is the property priced high, low, or just right? If your agent cannot answer that, find a better agent.
No one can negotiate a good deal for you if they can’t figure out the value.
How long has the property been on the market? If it's a brand new listing, the seller will be in control. If it is a stale listing (on the market for many months), or maybe it does not show well, you may be able to negotiate a real deal.
Have there been previous offers? Why did it not close? What happened? Any previous inspections? Any price changes?
There is a wealth of information available to a real estate agent if they know where to look. Make sure your agent provides you with all the information on your property of interest.
2. How much less than full price are you offering?
Are you a serious buyer or just fishing for a desperate seller? Regardless, if you plan to negotiate the price, you must back up your offer with something that makes sense.
Either the house is overpriced because the seller is underwater and can’t sell for less, or it needs work or maybe it is overpriced because supply and demand drives the price…and there is not much supply. If you have comparable properties to support your offer, send it with your offer. Don’t slack on your home buying negotiations.
If you are just fishing because you are stretching on your budget, then your ability to close must be solid. Home negotiations are a tradeoff.
Have real loan approval (not just a pre-qualification) and be ready to close without stalling and don’t ask for any extras that will make the seller or their agent flinch.
3. What does the seller owe on the property?
Yes, that does make a difference. If the seller is losing money,or selling for less than they paid, that is a hard pill for them to swallow.
Sometimes the seller cannot accept your offer because they would have to come to closing with money to pay off the balance they still owe.
REMEMBER: Not every seller is making a killing on their sale...
They could have a second mortgage on the property, which is the hardest objection to overcome on home negotiations.
Often sellers need or want to buy another property and must net a certain amount from this sale to make that happen. Or maybe they need to pay off a spouse or move to another state, or need money for their kids' college.
Whatever it is, it is important to the seller. If you understand that sellers have situations just like you, it will help with your home buying negotiations.
4. How much $ for escrow deposit are you putting down on the offer?
Don’t confuse the money down on the offer with the downpayment on your loan
We are talking about the money down on the offer.
No seller wants to see pocket change for a deposit. Although it may not be real security for the seller if you have contingencies, it still makes the seller feel more secure about you as a buyer.
If you are able, put down a larger escrow deposit than is typical, it will let the seller know that you are serious and have the funds to back it up. Sellers are always more willing to negotiate price and terms with someone that appears to be more committed to the property.
Sometimes the seller may request a much higher escrow deposit than you are comfortable with. In that case, offer to put a 2nd escrow deposit after satisfactory inspections.
If you have an inspection contingency, you can get all of your deposit refunded if home inspections are not satisfactory and you are still in your inspection period or if all is OK it will be credited to you at closing.
And...How much cash down on your mortgage?
When sellers get multiple offers on a property, how much money (downpayment) you are putting down on your mortgage becomes very important.
Many sellers assume that the more cash you are putting toward your mortgage, the more credible you are as a borrower.
They also think that if a buyer appears solid, and the property does not appraise for the sale price, the buyer may be able to restructure their loan to cover the shortfall.(but, we will want seller to take that hit)
5. Is the closing date you requested reasonable?
Don’t let the closing date be a deal breaker…
Sometimes sellers have not finalized where they are going, and unless the house is vacant they may stress with a short time frame to move.
Elderly sellers especially may feel pressured with a short closing date. They usually have to size down and may panic thinking about getting rid of their prized posessions.
Likewise, if the property is vacant, why do you need 3 months to close? The seller may worry about the property being vacant and that you may drop out as a buyer with too much time between the accepted offer and the final closing.
Best practice is to make the closing date the seller's preference…after all this is the only thing you can negotiate on this home that will not cost you money.
6. Have a good "prequal" letter, but not too high…
What does THAT mean? That means if you are qualified to buy a $Million dollar property but are bidding on one for $500,000 you don’t need a prequalification mortgage letter that shows you have deeper pockets and can easily pay double the price.
Likewise, if you are paying cash for a $Million Dollar property, you should not provide a “proof of funds” that shows you are a multi- millionaire.
Sellers don’t like to see someone that has more money than they do, quibble over the shelves in the garage.
Just show enough money on documentation to make you a solid and credible buyer but not so much that the seller thinks you are greedy and just want to take advantage of them.
7. What other things are you going to negotiate?
Things you need or things you just want?
Closing costs? Credit for carpet? Washer and dryer? The car in the driveway? Actually I have negotiated and got each of those, but the car is not the norm.
- Closing costs? (Ask only if you need it)
- Credit for carpet? (Ask if necessary)
- Washer and dryer? (Commonly asked for)
- Car or boat? (Ask if it is an Estate home sale, otherwise, it is at an additional cost which cannot be financed in your loan)
The west coast of Florida is a hot market and it is rare that a good house will not have interest from other buyers, so you want to keep the contract as clean as possible.
Asking for extras creates problems, or extra work for the seller which they don’t like. It muddies the water, so keep it at a minimum.
If there are multiple offers and you are asking for trivia items, your offer will get kicked to the curb unless you pay more and out bid everyone else. Asking for too much may end up costing you the sale…
8. Do you dare negotiate home deficiencies?
Every house you look at will have some kind of house problem.
Even a brand new house…which is why it is smart, necessary and a non-negotiable “must-do” to have a home inspection. Have every home inspected regardless of how good the property looks and don’t cut corners on inspections…regardless of what any agent or seller says.
A good inspector can find all kinds of problems; some which the seller does not know about, and some which the seller does know about and may try to hide.
It is your job not to cheap out on home Inspectors or which home inspections are needed, so that you can negotiate the home from a point of knowing the condition.
If you have a contingency in the contract for home inspections, and find issues you cannot accept, you can renegotiate the contract, even on an “as-is” contract. (yes, that is correct).
Best practice is to take a credit instead of asking the seller to fix because most will hire the cheapest handyman. With a credit you can control the quality of the repair yourself.
9. Is the seller obligated to fix anything?
The only thing that the SELLER MUST FIX FOR YOU is anything that interferes with your ability to obtain Homeowners Insurance.
Maybe I should clarify the word MUST in the last sentence. There is no law that says that the seller must do any repairs, however if they don’t fix it, the buyer will not be able to get homeowners insurance which is needed to bind the buyer's loan.
Without a fix, the problem will still be there for the next homebuyer.
There is no deal if the buyer is financing and the house will not pass a 4-point inspection for insurance purposes.
A smart seller will fix the 4-point insurance issues because that will affect the next home buyer's ability to close unless the buyer has enough money not to care about insuring the property.
Florida insurance companies are getting more stringent by the year. They require a 4-point inspection on every home and it has to comply with their standard.
Insurance companies do not want to cover these and more:
- Roofs older than 20 years (or less than 5 years of life left)
- Hot Water Heaters older than 15 years
- Polybutylene Plumbing (chronic issues, class action lawsuit)
- Old Electrical wiring (knob and tube, aluminum, Federal Pacific, Zinco, Challenger, BullDog brand Electrical Panels etc.)
MORE HOME STUFF TO CONSIDER NEGOTIATING
10. What home improvements has the seller made?
The home you are interested in buying may be all original or maybe the seller remodeled the home to designer status. Does a remodel make the home more valuable? (What if it's still ugly?)
Yes, it can be more valuable but a remodel job does not make it worth much more than what the neighborhood will bring.
Appraisers have guidelines to follow and will not raise the property value just because it looks pretty. Appraisers research the comparable properties in the neighborhood and the surrounding communities to come up with a realistic property value.
They will not overvalue the property because someone fixed it up.
11. Property negotiations over a short appraisal.
If a property appraisal comes in less than the purchase price, that is called a “short appraisal”. Lenders only lend on either the purchase price or the appraised value…whichever is LESS.
So if the property appraisal is less than the purchase price, either the buyer or seller needs to come up with the shortage.
This is just another home negotiation just like the rest of the negotiations on the property.
The first thing your agent should do on a short appraisal is try to get the seller to lower the price to appraised value…after all, if one state certified appraiser says it's not worth the contract price, chances are that another appraiser for a different buyer will say about the same.
Sorry, but you cannot just change appraisers to find one that is more favorable…those days are gone.
I have found that any reasonable seller will try to negotiate the sales price on a short appraisal. While most will take off a few thousand dollars off the price, most will also not take on the entire deficiency.
The amount that is short can be just a few thousand dollars or can be $20,000 or more. It just varies…
12. Who is making the selling decision?
Do the home sellers see eye to eye? Or are they getting a divorce? Does everyone want to sell?
Are they being forced to sell because of job loss? Or are they going to upgrade to something bigger and fancier? Learn all that you can…
If this is an estate sale it can go either way. Most buyers assume that when it is an estate sale that the heirs are already counting their money and want to discount the property to sell quickly…not always.
There are some heirs that want to squeeze every dollar out of the deal because they have never seen the property and think it must be a palace.
All these situations affect how differently each seller will negotiate the price, negotiate the terms and how flexible (or not) they will be.
So take a deep breath and tune into why they are selling...that matters.
Last but not least…
13. What does the seller's agent think of your offer?
After all, the listing/sellers agent can make or break a deal.
Sometimes they control the sellers and act like they own the property.
They often make decisions on what they think and feel without much input from the seller or market data.
Sometimes the listing agent turns the buyers off so much during buying negotiations that they pull out and go buy a different house.
Other times the seller's agent is a quality agent that keeps the seller on the right track. Those agents are what we always hope for.
Remember this: Negotiating for a home is a business transaction that takes common sense, skill and staying chill…it is nothing personal. Nothing about it is personal…so alway stay cool…and never let them see you sweat.
If the negotiations go your way, that's great! If not, just move on to another property…and there is always another property to buy!
The Buyers Agents at Buyers Broker of Florida are all Certified Negotiators…relax and let us negotiate for you.