That is a good question.
There are a couple of things that set the stage for negotiating. One is to make sure that you present the case as a strong buyer. That means you need to be preapproved for a mortgage so that you can show the seller that you are a serious buyer and can actually purchase the home.
The next thing you need to do is to find a REALTOR who can serve you as a Buyer's Agent. The buyer broker agreements spell out precisely who represents the buyer. There will not be a fee in almost all cases, when you work with a buyer's agent, because the seller pays for the REALTOR'S commission. So the important thing is to find a REALTOR that you are comfortable with and who has successful experience in negotiating and handling all the details of the sale. Many agents offer a guarantee of sorts to their buyers. They will release you from the contract if, for some reason, you are not comfortable or if they do not feel that the agent is not working for your best interests.
Often while looking at similar homes, you are able to see what prices are on comparable homes. If there is still some question about pricing, the REALTOR can do a market analysis on the property so that you can see other comparables.
The negotiation process begins once an offer is presented to the seller or the seller's REALTOR. You will recieve a counter offer from the seller if they do not accept your offer. You can then respond to the counter offer by agreeing to it, by countering the counter offer or by deciding to walk away.
There are lots more details that I can explain about the process, and I would be happy to do so. I would also am eager to allow you to interview me so that you can learn about my experience and qualifications and so you can make sure you are comfortable with my style and I can share with you exactly how I will represent you and handle all the details of the sale.
Krain Commercial and Residential Real Estate
jeremyATKrain-Chicago.com (be sure to substitute the symbol @ for the word at)