Whenever I'm working with buyers who find a place they love at a price they don't, I don't always suggest that we just keep looking - especially in this Washington, DC market, which is getting a little bit quirky.
While some sellers list their homes with visions of multiple offers and selling prices over what they are asking, this scenario has become the exception to the rule. And most of the sellers I'm running into are at least somewhat willing to negotiate with a qualified buyer who comes in good faith with a reasonable offer on their home.
OK, there are a few words in that last sentence -
- Qualified buyers are those who can be reasonably expected to complete the transaction. They have either been pre-approved at or over the asking price, or they can show "proof of funds for readily available liquid assets they'll need to reach the settlement table.
- "Good faith" means honorable intentions - they are being honest about their wish to buy and in sharing how they plan to make it happen.
- And reasonable? Now that one is sort of loaded!
In helping buyer clients craft an offer, here are some of the things I counsel to look (and be?) reasonable:
- Is the list price in line with recent selling prices for similar homes? If it is, coming in a little under the asking price might work, but way under a reasonable list price is a genuine long shot.
- If a home is new to the market, beautifully staged and priced to sell, it might not be the best candidate. There are wonderful homes that show terribly, but are amazing, waiting to happen.
- If the house has been on the market for more than a month or two, the sellers might be more willing to negotiate than if it's newly listed. After a while, they might be sick of keeping the beds made and dishes washed so that it's always "show ready".
- Is the house vacant? If the buyers have already moved to their new home, they may be carrying two mortgages, which is a strong motivation for them to consider an offer seriously.
- If you are trying to get your sellers to take a much lower price, don't load the offer up with a lot of superfluous contingencies, and don't ask them to convey their grand piano, dining room chandelier, or the Labradoodle. Keep your offer clean.
- Offer a high earnest money deposit, which most sellers will take as a sign that you are very serious about buying their home.
- Don't fool around! If you want the house, you'll have a far better chance of getting it if you are the only offer on the table. Once another buyer comes in with a competing offer, the dynamics totally change.
Good agents know that there is a lot more to an offer than the price. And often, attractive terms will work their magic, both on the home owners and the agent who is giving them advice.