What you need to know about negotiating

Updated: Jan 22, 2019


The old saying is that everything is negotiable in a real estate deal. But is it really?


Every buyer hopes to get the best price and terms. To do that you need to know when to start negotiating and when the seal the deal. That begins with being familiar with the market right down to the neighborhood and even the very street. What's been selling? Is there more demand for homes than available inventory (a sellers market)?


The pace of home sales may have slowed since last year in many cities, but Central Florida remains a hot market and the most desirable neighborhoods often result in bidding wars for the available homes. Still there are places where you can get a good deal and ways to negotiate a sale that work in your favor.


With home listings so readily available online, some would-be buyers may think they don't need a real estate agent. It's easy to find a house online, but it is much harder than it appears to get your bid from offer to closing. A good agent, with a knowledge of the market and negotiation experience, can make the difference between a successful purchase and deal that falls apart of quickly proceeds to become a money pit.


Here are the Top 12 Tips for any homebuyer to get the best deal!

  1. Get Your finances in order before you begin looking for a home. Your office is much less persuasive if it doesn't include a mortgage pre-approval.

  2. Do the match before getting too hung up on a small price difference. At an interest rate of 4.5 percent, the difference between $195,000 and $199,000 is about $20 a month. Don't lose the keys to your dream home because of small number.

  3. Base your offer on the home value, not the list price. Often sellers get too emotionally involved with setting a price. A good real estate agent guides a seller to list based on the actual market value. But when that doesn't happen the responsibility falls to the buyer to be knowledgeable about current area values. If a home is priced at or below market value, you're unlikely to close a deal for less. If it is priced above market value, a lower offer may get your the home. The best advice is to walk away from a house when the seller won't accede to the market value.

  4. Be decisive. If you see a home you like, be ready to move quickly. When a property is priced at market value or below, it will sell fast. Don't hesitate or be prepared to lose an opportunity.

  5. Don't assume that an inspection post offer will allow you to reopen negotiations. It's certainly acceptable, even recommended, to ask for a credit if the inspection reveals major issues. But you might not always get it. In some cases you may want to do an inspection before making the offer and submit the offer with fewer contingencies.

  6. If you don't ask for it, you won't get it. Even in tight markets, feel free to ask for repairs or concessions, but understand that you won't get it all.

  7. Ask why the seller is moving. The more you know about the seller, the more you can tailor your offer. Do they already have another house in escrow and are they looking for a quick closing? Is there a divorce involved? Are they downsizing and retiring to another state (seasonal)? You have to ask those questions of your agent and the sellers agent to understand the sellers motivation.

  8. Use public records for research. Find out as much about the seller, the property and the neighborhood. You can find out if the house is in foreclosure, whether the seller is party to a divorce proceeding, even what's changing in the neighborhood.

  9. Expect to compromise. Regardless of your price range, you rarely find the perfect house. You're likely to have to compromise on some features and probably even on the big three: price, size or location. Enter your negotiations prepared to make some concessions and you'll be that much farther ahead.

  10. Don't get hung up on decor. There are a lot of things about a house that can be easily changed. Changing the appliances, counter tops, carpeting, paint colors and window treatments are easily done.

  11. The terms of sale are as important as the price. Understanding the terms is very important. This could be removing inspection contingencies, making a larger down payment, accepting the contents with an estate sale or changing a closing date to accommodate the seller. The fewer contingencies you set in place during the sale, the more likely you are to get the property.

  12. Add the personal touch. Put the human face on your offer by including a personal letter with your offer explaining why this property is the one for you. This separates your offer from all the others and in some instances can sway sellers to move in your direction.


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