How can a home buyer sweeten their offer, without raising it's monetary value?

Asked by Trulia Dallas, Dallas, TX Wed Feb 20, 2013

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Stevens & Manley’s answer
Stevens & Ma…, Agent, Centerville, MA
Mon Feb 25, 2013
It comes down to price and terms. Depending on the seller other factors could influence there decision. Call us direct for more specific ideas.


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2 votes
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Flag Wed Mar 12, 2014
Paul Fuhr, Agent, Flower Mound, TX
Tue Nov 5, 2013
The buyers can submit a personal letter along with the offer. Explain what you like about their property and why you would be the best candidate to live in their home. Let them know you like the neighborhood, parks, schools, close proximity to work and shopping, or maybe the opposite, the secluded remoteness. But, most of all tell them why you love the home itself, the floor plan, design and décor, the large fenced in yard for your children to play in. If the sellers have a dog, let them know if you have one also. Selling a home can be a very emotional time for some people, especially if they have lived there a long time, or have raised children there. This personal letter lets them connect with you and know they are selling to someone who will enjoy and care for their home as much as they did. This works especially well if there are multiple offers that are close in price, and all you need is a little something to make your offer stand out from the others. It won't be nearly as effective if the offers are thousands of $ apart. Other than a few minutes of your time, writing a personal letter won't cost you anything and may be just that little bit extra that gets you contract.
6 votes
I can't speak for everyone, but the majority of the time the sellers want someone who has fallen in love with their home. Negotiations for the price is a separate deal. The Seller wants to sell just as much as a buyer wants to buy most of the time. If anyone puts an offer on a home, good or bad they are clearly interested in the home in some degree. In my experience a letter and photo makes the transaction more personal and less of a blind business desision. When it's time to negotiate, let the agents do the dirty work for you.
Flag Tue Dec 2, 2014
I think writing a letter to the seller is always a great idea. You never know how much weight that letter may have on the seller's "emotional" side.
Flag Mon Oct 6, 2014
NEVER make yourself look like an eager buyer!!!!!
Flag Wed Oct 1, 2014
Paul Fuhr's answer is good advice. Don't eliminate the inspections because
those are very important.
Flag Tue Jan 28, 2014
Sure all this will do is make them think you have got to have this home and theirs is the only one that will do, so they will raise the price to you.
Flag Wed Jan 8, 2014
Sure, do this and they'll decide NOT to
Flag Sun Dec 29, 2013
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Fri Feb 22, 2013
This is one of trulia's better questions......

1. Cash buyer or pre-approved financing

2. quick closing date

3. no contingencies
6 votes
For #1: from what I've read, pre-approved financing doesn't mean much these days as everyone gets it done. "Clear to close" or underwriter's approval would sweeten the deal as far as I've heard (which is what we're getting done)

#2: This depends entirely on the seller and what they're trying to do. Not every seller is ready to move right now. Some haven't found a house yet. One of the homes we're looking at has a comment from the seller on the MLS listing saying they want 91 - 120 day closing time (probably b/c they want to move in the summer). I think a better tip would be to learn the seller's needs and try to meet them.

#3: unless you're a cash buyer, going in with no contingencies could provide a big problem particularly if you're putting a good sized amount of earnest money in with your offer.

In fact, I'd think that a much better tip than waiving your contingencies is to put a large sum of earnest cash in (like 2%). But then, I'm no realtor...
Flag Tue Apr 22, 2014
Dawn Stefek, Home Buyer, Washington, PA
Sat May 3, 2014
BTB in the day and age when security systems are so small and so cheap and cellular don't be so sure that the seller is not checking up on you and the showing to make sure the agent is actually bringing someone through the house and not just scoping out the competition for the couple thinking about listing. Just because an alarm is not in sight does not mean there is not one. Watch what you say and do. Assume you are on camera. A good system does not advertise it is there.
4 votes
Phillip Madi…, Agent, Dallas, TX
Tue Mar 4, 2014
Each situation is different, but a good Realtor will discuss the options with you depending on the property. There have been some great suggestions listed, but I would recommend finding a Realtor you can work with and asking them how they individually will help your offer the most appealing. This is something your Realtor should be focused on, not you, it is our jobs to handle this stress for you!
4 votes
opondomusa, , 10020
Sun Feb 24, 2013
To be honest, i do not think there is one answer that applies to all Sellers.Your first step is to find out what the seller is looking for e.g quick closing, higher offer etc
Not all sellers are keen on closing in a short time.They might not be in a hurry to sell and be willing to wait for a higher offer in that case if your strategy is to close quickly it might not work.
3 votes
Be polite and have your act together. Your Realtor if they have a clue will ask about what the seller needs for closing terms.
Flag Sat May 3, 2014
You have to realize your feedback is seen by the seller. If it is rude I don't want to sell to you or work with you. You should be looking at houses for condition location and price. Yes decorating does factor in but I don't want to hear about your rude comments. Decorating is your personal preference. I won't work with you. Rudeness is not negotiating. If you thing there is a MATERIAL DEFECT I will work with you. If you want red walls and my wall are white good luck come in full price cash. Don't expect the seller to come down 20%. Start at 7 to 10% less and expect to end up at 3 to 5% less. If it is that overpriced make a case with the comps and condition if you really want it or walk away. Get it. You can state your case and worries with out saying stuff like needs a total decorating makeover. I want a bigger shower, ok I can work with that I can suggest we explored that and it was a pretty inexpensive open the wall for about 8k but we decided to spend 60K replacing the windows.
Flag Sat May 3, 2014
Vince Leibow…, Agent, Dallas, TX
Sat Mar 1, 2014
There are a number of options, working within the confines of the TREC promulgated contract, for a homebuyer to sweeten their offer, without raising the sale price--however, many of those options do result in a small cost.

1.) Survey. In the contract, there are options to check relating to whether the seller or buyer is responsible for the survey if (a) the seller doesn't have survey, or the seller's survey and T-47 aren't acceptable to the lender or title company. From the initial offer forward, the buyer should offer to assume the costs of the survey if a new survey is needed. Beware, however, that, for an irregular lot, creekside lot, or something similar, the survey could run as high as $700-$1,000.

2.) Short option period. Assuming you or your Realtor has an inspector who can get to the property and inspect soon after going under contract, shorten the option period, and offer to pay an option fee of $100-$200, creditable to the sale price. If the inspection reveals something that needs further inspection (HVAC, structural engineer, etc.), you can negotiate to extend the option period based on what was uncovered during the inspection.

3.) Don't ask for a home warranty. This is typically a $500 decrease from the seller's net on most single-family homes, While I'd still recommend you get a home warranty, don't ask the seller to cover the cost.

4.) Shorten the time for buyer's credit approval in the Addendum for Third Party Financing. Check with your lender and get a commitment on how quickly they can process the buyer credit approval upon receiving the contract. Use the shortest period acceptable to the lender that the lender can meet.

5.) Offer the shortest possible closing date. Even in this market, a good lender can close within 30 days.

6.) Ensure your buyer's agent communicates to the seller that you are open to a leaseback if needed. If needed, the seller's agent can counter with a leaseback amendment.

7.) Put up a reasonable amount of earnest money. So long as you abide by the contract and do not default, even if the house does not appraise or something similar happens, the buyer would have their earnest money returned if the sale does not close. However, if you miss a deadline in third party financing, etc., your earnest money could be in jeopardy.

8.) Unless absolutely necessary to your future use of the property, don't reserve objections to the title commitment. If you know you want to do something you aren't sure deed restrictions will permit (like build a detached garage, pool, fencing, circular driveway in the front, etc.), it isn't advisable to waive these objections. However, raising objections you don't intend to actually use as an exit option for the contract.

9.) Get your initial pre-approval or pre-qualification from a lender with in-house underwriting and a record of closing deals on time. Seller's agents frequently contact the lender and a lender who is "iffy" on the phone to a seller's agent won't inspire confidence.

Vince Leibowitz
Nathan Grace Real Estate
2 votes
Thanks for the detailed answer. Is there anything you'd recommend for condo buyers in age restricted ("55+") communities?
Flag Fri Jun 19, 2015
Wayka Bartol…, Agent, Corte Madera, CA
Wed Feb 20, 2013
One way to sweeten your offer is to let the seller stay in the home for a period of time, for instance, let them stay 30 days after the close of escrow at no charge. This is a way to let them know they have time to move and not be under pressure and it gives them money in their pocket indirectly. This is a very valuable tool and is much appreciated by the sellers. It also allows the seller to get their proceeds quicker and then they can have more leverage when making an offer on a replacement home or a deposit on a rental, whatever the case may be.
2 votes
As the seller, I asked for an additional 30 days post closing. The buyers really wanted the house and knew that I had more offers on the table. It worked out perfectly.
Flag Sat Feb 8, 2014
Danperez0822, Home Buyer, Lake Zurich, IL
Fri Jun 27, 2014
what is hoa, and what do fees and taxes include ???
1 vote
Michael Brow…, Agent, Allen, TX
Thu May 29, 2014
Great advice by my colleagues; I will add, "be flexible on the closing date."
1 vote
Hank Wilson, Agent, Bowling Green, KY
Sat Mar 1, 2014
Having already been pre- approved or not needing a loan at all makes the deal sweeter. basically anything that gets the transaction closed quicker.
1 vote
Elijah and M…, Agent, Laredo, TX
Mon Feb 10, 2014
Close soon and ask for zero closing costs :)
1 vote
Jeanne Solet…, Home Buyer, Phoenix, AZ
Fri Jan 24, 2014
Use the KISS theory. Works for me every time.
1 vote
I am too....I guess I was hoping for some experienced people to shed light. I am nervous, due to it being an out of state purchase. Thanks to all!
Flag Wed Feb 5, 2014
Anne Bokalo, Agent, CANTON, TX
Thu Feb 21, 2013
I would be open to their closing date and let them stay in a temp lease. Also what's worked for me several times is to submit a pre qalified letter from lender with your contract and not ask for any repairs! This might not work for a FHA since they require certain repairs.
1 vote
Dixon Wong, Agent, Dallas, TX
Thu Feb 21, 2013
There are numbers of items, paying cash, days of option period, closing date, and which bank you have been approved for loan and so forth or even a lease back.

1 vote
Monica Pineda, Agent, Dallas, TX
Wed Feb 20, 2013
All great ideas (except for the obvious self promoting without answering the question) but I would add that if you don't need closing assistance, to make it clear that you aren't requesting any help. Many sellers expect to have to pay something towards closing for the buyer.. if they see they don't have to for you, your offer is more appealing and gives the seller more confidence that a transaction with you will close without last minute scrambling.
1 vote
Amy Arey, Agent, Allen, TX
Mon Jun 29, 2015

There are quite a few ways to "sweeten the offer" (other than raising the sales price). With my own clients, I always contact the listing agent before writing the offer and trying to get a little more information on the sellers and their position, ie: perhaps the highest dollar amount is not the most important but the most flexible lease-back is. It all depends on circumstances and doing your (or the listing agent doing his / her homework to find out what exactly, is most important to the seller). Generally speaking, you can always :

1) Decrease the option period, raise the option amount (I've seen over $500.00 just in option fees in this market lately!).

2) Give more than the 1% Earnest amount

3) Offer a flexible lease-back

4) Offer to pay for the survey or title policy if needed (not really "raising the sales price", but being willing to pay these fees may help win you the deal because it will, ultimately, help show you as the more willing buyer.

5) Write out your earnest deposit and submit a copy with your offer.

6) Write a heart-felt letter to the sellers explaining why you love their home so much. Connect with them on a personal level.

Have other questions or want more suggestions? Feel free to contact me!

-Amy S. Arey, Realtor
Halo Group Realty, LLC
0 votes
White.joanp, Home Buyer, Miami, FL
Mon Jun 22, 2015
When I purchased the house I am in now, in 1989, I informed the seller that I could close in five business days, after inspections. ((It turned out that his house had to have a bunch of ASBESTOS removed from the attic. Ouch! I was in a hurry to move in, and not have to dilly-dally around ! )) My bid was not the highest dollar amount, but the fact that I could close in five business days -- I was assuming their mortgage loan (which was small) -- was important to the sellers. No mortgage loan application was going to be an obstacle. BUYERS!! DO NOT EVER FOREGO INSPECTIONS !! GET ALL THE FACTS !! Joan in Houston
0 votes
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Fri Feb 6, 2015
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0 votes
Brian Hughes, Agent, Long Island City, NY
Mon Jan 12, 2015
Is anyone here discussing condo or coop purchases, or just single family homes?
0 votes
Vanessa, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Fri Oct 3, 2014
Looking to purchase do has some working on credit score. Now only. Please call me or send email
0 votes
Larry Phelps, Agent, Mesa, AZ
Fri May 30, 2014
There are a lot of very good answers to the question here. I have to agree with the opinion that each seller is driven by different motivations. You will need to use the strategy that best fits those motivations.

0 votes
Diana Hellman, Agent, Larchmont, NY
Thu May 29, 2014
Releasing mortgage contingency is a good thing to do if you know you can get a mortgage committment so it is acting from a position of strength, subject to the appraisal coming in at the accepted price and being flexible with regard to the closing date. These are two very important parts of the equation when giving an offer, especially if there is a multiple bid situation.
0 votes
highschooldi…, Home Buyer, Mason, OH
Mon May 26, 2014
Nobody with any brains buys a house without an inspection. This is a matter of knowing the market, knowing the sellers situation and not insulting the seller. A seller may be asking an unreasonable price. If he does not have to sell, you pay his price or go on to the next house. A willing seller and willing buyer may come to terms. Beyond that, the seller does mot have to lower his price just necause he is asking to much
0 votes
Dawn Stefek, Home Buyer, Washington, PA
Sat May 3, 2014
One way you can sweeten the offer is to be clean cut and not be rude.and look at houses you can afford. We as sellers see very rude ridiculous comments online after every showing. We also understand it is a haggling process. I understand you have hopes and dreams and desires. We are not interested in your decorating issues . We want you to love our house as much as we love it. We are more likely going to lower our price, work with a contingent contract if you don't play games and are polite Knock the sellers socks off if you are contingent. Be polite, have your home for sale, your comps for your home ready, have your financing in order. My home has been entirely replaced from roof to basement professionally.with upgraded viking appliances. I am not in a rush to sell. I140822596856 can wait for a good buyer. I have told my agent if they are going to be rude and manipulative they can try building 50 or 60 miles out for the same price and best wishes to you. There is too much HOUZ , HGTV and me me me out there and not enough reality and elbow grease or commitment.
0 votes
Tracy Haynes, Agent, Edwardsburg, MI
Wed Mar 26, 2014
Depends on what you asked for, Did you ask them for concessions? Did you ask for something that was not in the original listing. What type of financing and how quickly you want to move. Cash is king in sales and the more you put in the better the results.
0 votes
Carolyn Fish…, Agent, Bangor, ME
Wed Mar 26, 2014
I would NOT suggest waiving a building inspection to sweeten an offer as it can unveil potential issues that might hurt more than help if not discovered; UNLESS, the buyer is savvy with the structural and maintenance components of a home. However, if the a buyer has a background and/or experience with structures, gets to do a good inspection before the offer, writing an offer waiving the inspection could seem less risky to the seller than an offer contingent upon a building inspection and could definitely give you an advantage over an offer subject to a building inspection, or any other inspections.

Otherwise; having your pre-approval letter from a LOCAL, and reputable, bank/mortgage company (or letter from your financial adviser saying you have funds available if cash). Do not ask for points, concessions, help with closing costs, or personal property not all ready offered. Inquire about the best time frame to close with the seller, and if that works for you, meet their best time to close. Sometimes faster is not not better for the seller, sometimes it is.

Good Luck!
0 votes
Martin Lopez, Home Buyer, Pittsburgh, PA
Sun Feb 9, 2014
For answers to that question and more please check out my Online Homebuyer Seminar
0 votes
Merrian Nevin, , Los Altos, CA
Mon Feb 3, 2014
I always ask the listing agent what title/escrow company they would prefer and what the seller is looking for. The highest price and quickest close are not always the answer. Even the best qualified buyer or an all-cash sale might not be the right answer if the seller needs to carry the loan. Ask a lot of questions; find out what the seller wants or needs. That can often uncover what will sweeten the offer. In our market here in the Silicon Valley, buyers need to be flexible.
0 votes
wilsonmauric…, Home Buyer, Cross Creek Heights, Cedar Grove, FL
Tue Nov 26, 2013
how to buy a home need info about how to but a home i am a first time buyer
0 votes
Your question is perfect!

Talk with a consultant or life coach who is able to explain the process.
I have been a realtor in the past and worked with many first time buyers. Have also purchased five homes in Arizona and Wisconsin.
Flag Fri Jan 24, 2014
Susie Kay, Agent, Dallas, TX
Tue Nov 5, 2013
Having terms that are flexible to the seller's need such as closing later or sooner, no closing cost, cash buyers (if possible), no contingencies upon selling buyers home to finance current home purchase, as is, allow sellers temporary lease up to certain days for free etc.

Susie Kay, Realtor®
United Real Estate
III Lincoln Centre, 5430 LBJ Freeway #280
Dallas, TX 78240

Servicing your real estate need is my priority!
0 votes
Cristina Cal…, Agent, Woodbury, NY
Tue Oct 29, 2013
Favorable terms like, no inspection, no mortgage contingency, as-is, etc. If none of those options work you can also offer timing of closing. Oftentimes sellers have very specific timelines that they would prefer to follow, at this time of year most sellers request closing after the holidays. Your best strategy would be to discuss this with your REALTOR and have her/him find out what the seller's motivators will be. Best of luck to you in your purchase.
0 votes
lboglem, Home Buyer, Duncan, OK
Tue Oct 29, 2013
Being fully furnished to a buyer would allow me to pay higher to the asking price for sure.
0 votes
Yanoska Diaz, Agent, Miami, FL
Thu Feb 21, 2013
A large non refundable escrow deposit to ensure the Seller you will no be walking away from the transaction.
0 votes
Judi Monday,…, Agent, Green Valley, AZ
Thu Feb 21, 2013
It always comes down to price and terms. So without raising the price, your option is to sweeten the terms--cash and a quick close are bound to get your sellers attention.
0 votes
Duong Nguyen, Agent, Richardson, TX
Wed Feb 20, 2013
Pay cash, as is, and close in 2 weeks.
0 votes
Michael Brow…, Agent, Allen, TX
Wed Feb 20, 2013
A seller can sweeten the deal in many ways, but simple ideas would be to offer the seller a seller's temporary lease-back; a shorter closing window or even a longer closing window or even agreeing to pay for the title policy, home warranty or not request any repairs, or a combination of these. However, a good buyer's agent will advise their buyer client about their options and which ones may be to their advantage.
0 votes
Sevin Burke…, Agent, Plano, TX
Wed Feb 20, 2013
You can make the closing date sooner rather than later. You raise up your option and earnest money to show them that you are serious. This money does not raise the monetary value because it will actually get applied to the sale price at closing, thus reduces the amount of cash that you will need to bring to the table on the day of closing. You can also set your option period to a shorter amount of days. Just make sure you have enough time to get all of the inspections that you need in order to make an informed decision.
Good Luck!
Ebby Halliday REALTORS
0 votes
Justin Henry, Agent, LITTLE ELM, TX
Wed Feb 20, 2013
Close date, no repairs, as is,
0 votes
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