Knowing how to effectively negotiate will come up when you buy a house, even in a seller’s market. When your money and emotion is at stake, mastering the art of negotiation is crucial in not only getting your offer accepted but also moving forward on a home (and deal) you feel good about. That’s what this industry boils down to— feeling like you made a good decision; it’s the psychology behind consumer spending. Really, it is the major catalyst that drives why we buy what we buy: we want these purchases to reflect who we are, and we want to feel good about them. So let’s talk about how to get to that point when it involves buying a home. The following are some of my top tips that center around creating and negotiating an offer for a buyer.
1. Set Expectations
I’ll be the first to admit that I want a good deal when I purchase a suit, car, and especially a home. As an agent it is my job to make sure that my clients are well aware of the local market they would like to buy in, as this will set the tone for issues like affordability, must-have features, and how realistic expectations are set. Knowledge is power—it is a mantra I live by, and this applies most definitely to buying a home.
2. Making the Offer
You’ve found the one. The yard, the school, the open concept. You’re in love. What next? Together, we will put together as robust and compelling of an offer as we possibly can. This will set the stage for how your offer will be interpreted, and if the seller and listing agent, will send you a counteroffer if is the case. Sometimes you only get one shot, so submitting a realistic, attractive offer, all things considered, is what’s important.
3. Counteroffers…What Next?
We live in an anomaly of a market in the Bay Area, and it is not surprising to see multiple offers made on a house. Every seller treats counter-offering a little differently, so coming up with the best game plan is going to require a solid buyer’s agent to dig up as much info on the seller’s position as possible before you submit an offer. “Will sellers entertain a counteroffer?” “What sort of terms are the sellers inclined to accept?” These questions are important to address upfront. If the sellers decide to send you a counter, you have to be prepared to accept the terms or walk. It is rare that we go through multiple rounds of counteroffers, as it’s unproductive, and can kill many deals from buyers walking away feeling toyed around or simply burnt out. So, when a counter is presented, you have to be prepared to make a timely decision.
4. Managing Feelings During Escrow
Man, I could write an entire thesis on this topic alone. I’ll be brief for now. Once you are in the contract (your offer has been accepted) you are far from being “out of the woods.” The major point to keep in mind is that if you love this house, do not quibble over the seller taking the refrigerator or fighting over furniture. I know, it can seem challenging, because we all go back to that “feel good, deal good” mentality. You have to think big picture. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. If you’re buying a $1,500,000 home that you absolutely love, don’t kill your dream by haggling over a $2,000 washer/dryer…it’s not worth it.
True story: Recently a colleague of mine was the listing agent for a high-end luxury home. She had an under-ask offer come in, which was accepted. Long story short, the buyers argued that the sellers should give them the furniture as well, which they had not asked for in their offer! Naturally, the sellers felt annoyed and thought the buyers were trying to take advantage of them. The deal closed with the sellers deciding not to “gift” the furniture. Moral of the story, sure it doesn’t hurt to ask, but if a seller says no, especially when you are in-contract…consider the big picture. There are millions of couches out there, but there aren’t millions of homes like the one that works for you. Keep it simple, and be reasonable.