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Buying a home? Here's How to Negotiate with the Seller

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How to negotiate with the home seller

You've found your dream home, and you're chomping at the bit, ready to buy.  But, you're not sure you want to pay the price that the owner has listed.

So, can you convince the seller to lower their price? With the right moves, the answer is likely yes!

A big reason for that?  It's a buyers' market.  According to the most recent statistics released by the National Association of Realtors, there's a lot to chose from out there.  The number of houses, condos, and other properties being put on the market continues to increase.

Plus, mortgage rates are at an all-time low -- something that's designed specifically to get buyers to take the plunge into home ownership.  According to Fannie Mae, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage fell to a record low 3.55% in July.  That's the lowest rate since record-keeping began in 1971.

But, for buyers, there's also some bad news.

The nation's median sales price has been going up for the past four months -- meaning that sellers still have some leverage.


So, how do you to start negotiating?

Remember that the seller likely aimed high.  These days, most sellers are initially listing their homes for prices that are above their must-get price.  Aiming high gives them some negotiating room.  But, in turn, it also gives you some.

As a result, make an initial offer that is lower than your final price.  Just don't lowball the seller.  By making a serious offer, the seller knows you mean business.  

After that, they're likely to counteroffer.  Then, you'll counteroffer -- until the two of you meet in the middle.   

But before you start throwing offers out, you need to do your research!

For example, what was the listing price of other houses of similar size in the same neighborhood?  Did the seller get that amount, or did the house sit on the market for some time?

Once you've know the facts, be specific and aggressive in your purchase offer.  Make a deadline for the seller to counteroffer, and stick to it.  If the seller knows he only has a certain amount of time to decide yes or no on your offer, he'll be more willing to take you seriously.  After all, if he drags his feet, you may end up walking away!

In addition to standing your ground, there is another way you can show the seller you're serious about your offer.  It's called increasing your "earnest money".

"Earnest money" is an amount you pay to the seller when you make an offer.  It can range anywhere for $500 to 5% of the home's value.  It's designed to act as a good-faith payment.  

Often times, this money goes towards the closing costs once the house is sold, so why not offer them more than they are asking?  By doing that, you increase what you pay now -- but it shows the seller your serious intent.  Luckily, it won't necessarily increase your final and total price.

In addition to the traditional 'let's meet somewhere in the middle' approach, there is one more way you can get the buyer to reduce the overall price.

If the house has been on the market for awhile, or if the seller is set on the selling price and won't come down anymore, ask for some concessions.  In simple terms, these are costs you'd like the seller to pay for -- like part or all of your closing costs or certain repairs that need to be made to the house after the inspection is completed.

It never hurts to ask. The worst that can happen is that the seller says no.  But, he may say yes -- and you'll end up saving money in the end.  Just be sure to include all concessions in your written offer, since it's likely that your legal contract will be drafted from the purchase offer.

 


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