When you finally find the perfect house, you want to be able to move with lightning speed. Getting pre-approved means you’ll know how much a bank is willing to loan you, and (roughly) at what rate. Plus, agents and sellers sometimes won’t even consider your offer unless you’ve already got a bank that’s willing to vouch for you.
Find Out Why It’s For Sale
In any type of negotiation, knowledge is power. Ask the listing agent for the story behind the sale. Is there urgency on the seller’s behalf—perhaps because they’ve got a home purchase of their own on the line? Or is the homeowner in no rush at all? A successful bid takes the seller’s situation into account.
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Make Your Best Offer First
If you really want the house (and why are you bidding if you don’t?), low-balling can be dangerous. If the local market is competitive, you may not get a chance to raise your bid. Base your bid on comparable values, and give it your best shot the first time around.
Use Inspection Results Wisely
You’ve had your offer accepted, but then your home inspector finds a leaking water heater or substandard wiring. Depending on local market conditions, you may be able to ask the seller to make the repairs, but lobbying for a price cut is often a wiser option. That way, you can hire a contractor you trust to get the job done.
Offer a Quicker Closing
If you really want to charm a seller—and perhaps knock a bit off the final price—offer to close the deal in less than the typical 60 days. You’ll need to get your mortgage broker, bank, and agent on board, but this can be a winning strategy when the homeowner is motivated.
Present Your Offer With Respect
While you want your offer to be based on the property’s true value, don’t confront the seller with a long and nitpicky list of reasons (hideous wallpaper, anyone?) why your offer is lower than the asking price. Have your agent present the offer in the most professional and courteous way possible, backed up with data and free from potentially insulting opinions.
Consider Writing a Note
Many sellers love their homes dearly, and want to believe that its new owners will love it every bit as much. In a competitive bidding situation, a handwritten note from a potential buyer, that’s friendly without being fawning, can be the small gesture that seals a big deal.
Nail Down the Details
To arrive at a final price, don’t neglect to address all the smaller questions: Will appliances be included? Will walls be repaired and painted? Is the landscaping staying put (yes, some sellers will want to take their prize peonies along to their new home)? Be thorough and avoid misunderstandings later.
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Prepare to Compromise
Enter the negotiation with the assumption that you won’t get everything on your wish list. It’s wise to include some requests that you’ll be willing to give up. Ask for the window treatments to stay put (even if you hate them), so you can graciously concede that point for another item you truly desire (that charming front porch swing).
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