How can you make sure you pay as little as possible for the home you love?
* Know what comparable properties are selling for.
If the home is priced higher than the competition, then your seller should be willing to negotiate. In addition, if the price is significantly higher, the owner’s agent probably already knows this – the owner probably forced the agent to list it at the inflated price. The owner’s agent will probably welcome your offer, no matter how low it is. It will allow the agent to go back to the owner and tell him/her, “I told you so.”
* Know how long the property has been on the market and the list price history.
If the property has been on the market for awhile, it means that either it was priced too high or that there’s something terribly wrong with it. Most likely, reason #1. If the price has gone down over time, it could mean the owner is willing to negotiate on price. However, if the owner has stuck to the same price, month after month, it means he or she is damn stubborn. You’ll have to figure out a way to persuade the owner to take your lower price – perhaps you’re paying cash, or can close whenever the owner wants, whatever.
* Know all the basics about the property and the neighborhood.
Is there water in the basement? Cracked windows? Old appliances? These are the types of things to point out when your buyer’s agent negotiates the price. A smart seller’s agent will respond, “We took that into account when we listed it at this price,” but pointing these things out will give you the upper hand. Hey, you’re not buying a brand new property, so you shouldn’t have to pay full price. Know what other properties are available for sale in the neighborhood. If there are a lot, the owner will know that, too, and realize if he/she doesn’t sell to you, you’ll go down the street and buy their neighbor’s property, instead.
* If possible, wait a long time between offers and counter-offers.
Nothing scares an owner more than when he or she responds with a counter-offer … then hears nothing back from you. The owner will freak out. The owner will start calling his or her agent, every hour, “Have you heard anything yet???” The listing agent will call your buyer’s agent, every hour, “Are the buyers still interested???? Are they looking at anything else???” Use this to your advantage.
* If you are offering less than full-asking (and, why wouldn’t you?), make the deal as appealing as possible.
This seems logical, right? If you’re looking for a deal, make it worthwhile to the owner. Offer to close on the date of the owner’s choice (within reason), offer to pay cash (ha-ha?), minimize the contingencies. Make sure you’re pre-approved and that you have a letter from your lender approving you for the loan amount.
* If you are offering a LOT less than full-asking, then start pretty close to your final asking.
(This is one piece of advice not every agent would agree on.) Don’t waste anyone’s time. If a property is listed at $500,000 and you want it for $450,000, don’t offer $400,000, with the idea that you’ll meet in the middle. I don’t think that’s logical. The owner won’t, either. It will set a bad vibe. I would suggest coming in at $440,000. In some ways, it doesn’t matter what the owner responds with – you’ve set a price of $450,000 in your mind, and no matter what, you’re not going above it. If the owner comes back at $490,000, then you know he or she is not in the mood to negotiate. You can respond with $450,000, the price you decided you want to pay. If the owner comes back with $480,000, say, “Thanks but no thanks.”
You set the price, now stick with it. But, again, there’s no sense negotiating a $100,000 difference, $1,000 at a time. I think it’s better to set your price, offer it, then stick with it.
More: Making an attractive home-purchase offer – By Dian Hymer, Inman News, by way of The Boston Globe
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