Buying a home is an exciting—and typically very expensive—venture. Understanding the mortgage process, your financial status, and what you really want and need in a home are all important to ensuring a desirable outcome when you begin your home search. But what you might not realize is that when you do find the home that ticks most of the boxes, you don’t necessarily have to pay what the seller is asking. Learn more about negotiating house prices below.
Tips for Negotiating House Price
- Partner with a real estate agent
- Understand how motivated the seller is
- Be realistic
- Show enthusiasm
- Set a deadline
Can You Offer Less Than Asking Price on a House?
It may feel odd to haggle over house price, but you can offer less than what the seller is asking for a home. That’s why it’s called making an offer. The seller doesn’t have to accept the offer, though, and you might find yourself entering into negotiations if you do want the home. During this process, it’s important to balance your desire for the home with a practical approach to how much you should, can, or even want to spend on it.
Tips for Negotiating House Prices
Knowing how to negotiate house price is important because it helps you get a better deal. But you aren’t the only one that might be making an offer, so you also want to follow some best practices so your dream home doesn’t get scooped up by someone else while you’re hedging your bets with the seller.
1. Partner with a real estate agent who can help.
You might start by entering the homebuying process with a bit of help. A qualified real estate agent can serve as your partner as you look for homes and make offers. Here are some of the services a real estate agent can do for you:
- Help you drill down to what you really want in a home
- Offer greater understanding of the local real estate market
- Find homes that meet your criteria that you might not know were for sale or be able to find otherwise
- Arrange showings
- Act as your go-between and advisor during negotiations with sellers
It’s important to note that not all real estate agents have negotiation experience or even offer this service in an aggressive manner. As a buyer hiring an agent, make sure you look for one with experience writing real estate contracts and negotiating on behalf of clients.
2. Understand how motivated the seller is.
Try to gauge how motivated a seller is to determine where you can start your negotiation. For example, a seller that must sell one home before buying another may be motivated to sell at anything but a loss. But one that doesn’t have to sell the home or is listing a property just to see if it might sell isn’t that motivated and may be able to reject any offer under asking price.
A good real estate agent can also help you understand seller motivation. Here’s some information that can help you gauge it:
- How long the house has been on the market. In general, the longer a home is on the market, the likelier a seller is to accept a lower offer.
- How many offers have been made. If the seller hasn’t had any offers over a period of time, they may be more willing to consider yours. If they’ve declined many offers, it could be a sign they aren’t super motivated.
- Whether the seller is on a deadline. If the seller has to move or needs to sell the home in a short time period for any other reason, it may put you in a good position as a buyer.
- The home has been foreclosed on, which means the lender may be motivated to sell it to recoup whatever it can.
3. Be realistic with your offer.
Whatever state the markets and the seller are in, make sure you’re realistic when you make an offer. First, that means being realistic about what you can pay every month and whether you can get approved for a mortgage for the offer amount.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage before you start negotiating can be a good idea. This process lets you know around what amount you’re likely to be approved for, how much down payment you might need, and whether you can get an interest rate that works for you. It also demonstrates to sellers that you’re a serious buyer and that you are likely to be able to obtain funding if your offer is accepted. That can make a difference in negotiations.
On the flip side, you should also be realistic about what the seller is likely to accept as an offer. Lowball offers can be seen as insulting and don’t set you on a good foundation for future negotiations.
What is considered a lowball offer? That varies, and your real estate agent can help you determine an appropriate offer in each case.
4. Show enthusiasm but don’t be too tied to the property.
The art of negotiation involves keeping a straight face, right? Actually, in the homebuying process, it might benefit you to demonstrate that you do really like the home in question. After all, the seller may have called this property home for a number of years and be personally attached to it. Selling it to someone else who will genuinely love and care for it could be important.
If it comes down to two similar offers from separate buyers and you’re the one who was delighted with the home and the seller saw you connect with the property, the odds might balance out in your favor. Just don’t overdo it and ensure that you’re making logical choices about financial matters no matter how much you love a house.
5. Put a deadline on the offer.
Finally, put a deadline on your offer. That helps reduce the chances that competing offers might come in and pushes the seller to make a decision or counteroffer so you can move on with the negotiation or your hunt for a different home.
What Else Can You Negotiate with Home Sellers?
If the seller’s firm on the price, you might be able to negotiate other things. Here are some tactics to consider:
- Ask the seller to pay some or all of the closing costs.
- Use the home inspection to point out items of concern and ask the seller to make repairs to the home in exchange for you paying the full asking price.
- Agree to make certain repairs yourself, but ask the seller to agree to a cash payout at closing. This means they come to closing with a check for you to cover the costs of the repairs.
- Get creative and ask the seller to leave certain appliances, such as a washer and dryer or refrigerator in the home.
Shop Mortgages Online
If you’re ready to buy your next home, you can start the mortgage process online. Follow these steps to get started.
- Check your credit. You can sign up for ExtraCredit to see 28 FICO® Scores, including those commonly used by mortgage lenders.
- Make sure your credit score is accurate by challenging inaccurate negative items, if necessary.
- Continue to make strong financial decisions to help boost your score so you stand a better chance at getting approved for a mortgage.
- Shop mortgage rates at Credit.com, get pre-approved or apply for a mortgage with one of our partner lenders.