2. When you make an offer, know the recent comparable sales; itâ€™s the best bargaining tool. â€œSee whatâ€™s going on out there,â€™â€™ says Beverly Durham of ReMax Gold Coast Realty in Camarillo, Calif., where entry-level single-family homes begin at $500,000. â€œMake an offer $10,000 to $15,000 under what the last one sold. Even in this market, if you insult your seller, they wonâ€™t want to deal with you. Sellers know what the last one sold for. You want them to at least look at your offer.â€
3. Find out as much as you can about the sellerâ€™s motivation -- retirement, job, divorce, wants to move up but only if he gets the right price. Durham says if a buyer knows the sellerâ€™s motivation they can negotiate a better deal or move on to the next property.
4. Multiple Listing Service (MLS) properties usually state what the seller owes. If not, your agent should be able to track down the figures. Thereâ€™s a big difference in negotiating with an owner who owes more than the house is worth and one who has a lot of built-up equity.
5. â€œAfter 45 to 60 days the seller is usually absolutely sick of keeping their house spotless and sick of people walking through,â€™â€™ said Durham. This is when a seller may be the most anxious about selling their house as traffic to their house has likely fallen sharply.
6. Unless youâ€™re incredibly handy and have time and cash, go after houses that are as updated as you can afford. This is easier to do in a stagnant or falling market and fixers arenâ€™t usually discounted enough to be worthwhile.
7. In a tighter market, itâ€™s not too much to ask the seller to add the closing costs to the price of the house. Itâ€™s better to put 20 percent down and add the closing costs to the loan than put 15 percent down and pay the costs upfront.
8. Items to ask for that shouldnâ€™t offend sellers are paying for new kitchen appliances or washer and dryer. Most sellers will be willing to do so to close the deal. Durham also says itâ€™s OK to ask sellers to pay up to the first year of homeowner association dues.
9. Donâ€™t request anything that requires quality workmanship. â€œDonâ€™t ask them to paint,â€™â€™ Durham said. â€œThey wonâ€™t do it the way you want. Theyâ€™ll do a lousy job.â€™â€™ Also, donâ€™t get carried away and ask for the entire store. Be reasonable.
10. Make sure to look at the big picture. In changing markets you should be planning to stay for at least five years, so donâ€™t get caught up in a $2,000 price difference. Remember, the goal is to get the house you want to live in for some time, not to impress friends with how you worked the previous owner.
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