Updated: Aug 13
Most real estate negotiations are friendly, with relatively difficult moments that can cause some tension and anxiety popping up at least a few times along the way during each deal.
Although this is completely normal, there are a few things that are abnormal but popularized by today's culture. These are negotiation tactics that people think make them seem like they play hardball when in reality they are deal killers to the other party.
Offering below asking price is perfectly acceptable in markets that are in a position where that is doable. However, going into a home priced at $350,000 that comps out at $345,000 and offering $225,000 is usually going to elicit a negative response from the Seller. Anything from colorful language and a torn-up offer, to personal threats and a counteroffer higher than original asking.
Homes are personal to the owners, and when someone receives an outlandishly low offer on something so close to them, they take personal offense to it and typically react in kind.
Save yourself the time and talk to your Realtor about what range of offers would be reasonable and what the lowest offer that will elicit a response will be. Typically, a good rule of thumb is roughly 10% of the listing price. So, on a $500,000 house, you could reasonably offer $450,000 out of the gate and most likely you will be greeted with a counteroffer in return. It might be for $495,000, but it is still a counter.
Take It or Leave It
Drawing unnecessary lines in the sand out of the gate is a great way to lose out on your dream home or investment purchase.
Saying things like "take it or leave it", or "this is the best you're going to get" are two great ways to not only shoot yourself in the foot on this deal, but also build a terrible reputation for yourself. All you investors out there wanting to get the best deals in town before they hit the market and wondering why you never hear about them....this is most likely why! Sellers don't like dealing with people who refuse to negotiate and only see a deal as being one-sided. A great deal is structured in a way where it is a win-win situation and everybody walks away happy.
Don't paint yourself in a negative light right away, and focus on building good relationships throughout a negotiation. This will go a long way further along in the negotiation process if something should arise that requires special circumstances, and the seller will be much more amiable to the idea of helping you out or being flexible with their position. Playing rough from the beginning not only eliminates that possibility, but makes it more likely that the seller will do everything in their power to make the experience as miserable as possible for you as the buyer.
The big picture here is... use some empathy and imagine how you would feel if a stranger off the street presented you with an offer on your home. Think about how the words you choose would make you feel if you were in their position.
It is perfectly normal for things to be found in an inspection report that we were not hoping or expecting to see. Sometimes this itemized list is 40 pages or more long with several items per page. This is part of the process, and some further negotiation is to be expected whether it be in the form of repairs, seller concessions on price, or a combination of the above or some other agreed-upon solution.
What is not normal is to go back and ask for concessions on every single item on an inspection report that is found to be deficient. Especially if there are dozens of pages of them including small things that are not critical to the enjoyment of the home. Something important to consider in the state of Texas that often times buyers are unaware of is the fact that any repairs done as part of the repair amendment are required to be performed by a licensed professional in the state. This means that if you ask for a light bulb to be replaced, then the seller is going to have to pay for an electrician to come out in order to replace the light bulb. Not only will they be charged for the cost of the light bulb and the electrician's time, but they will also be charged the service fee for having an electrician sent out to the property.
I have seen situations exactly like this countless times where what would be an easy fix by the home buyer and would cost only a few dollars end up being $65 or more once service fees and time charges are added on top of the cost of the light bulb.
The more of these little things that are requested, the more likely the seller is going to see you as an illegitimate buyer looking for a way out of the deal without losing your earnest money. Typically they will ask if you just want out of the deal, or they will just kill it themselves so that they can get the home back on the market and under contract with a serious buyer.
I advise against doing this, especially if you are trying to get into your dream home and the items found to be deficient during the inspection are small ticket items that you can do yourself or hire someone to do cheaply after taking possession of the home.
For most people in the 21st century, time is our most valuable asset and we are willing to do just about anything to avoid wasting it.
This is why going back in forth in negotiations one tiny little increment at a time is more likely to infuriate the seller than it is to get them to agree to a lower price. If they are selling a $100,000 home that you offer $75,000 on, they may counter at $94,000. If you come back at $76,000 and try to play this incremental back and forth game, do not be surprised when the seller stops countering after the first or second go around and refuses to acknowledge any further offers from you.
You have lost credibility in their eyes, as well as their agent's eyes. If you end up offering on another listing of that agent's they will most likely inform their seller that you are not a serious buyer and your offers do not typically have legs to stand on when it comes to actual negotiating.
One of the quickest ways to achieve radio silence when negotiating to purchase a property is to start asking for extras on top of what you are already getting... especially when no commensurate price increase is part of the conversation.
The easiest way to think of this is to imagine yourself in their shoes. If you know someone is walking through your house trying to decide if they want to buy it, you don't expect them to be picking through the rest of your belongings deciding what they do and do not want.
It provides a sense of violation for some, and outright rudeness for others. Only under special circumstances should you ask for more things that are not listed on the property's listing as conveying with the property. And you should always offer a fair price for them if you really want them to stay. Examples being massive wooden tables that the seller might not even want to deal with moving, or an outdoor entertaining area that was specially designed for this back patio and would likely not look as good somewhere else.
Otherwise, my suggestion is to play it safe and be polite so that you are less likely to lose the deal altogether. Tread lightly when trying to value someone else's possessions, as you never know the sentimental value they may hold for them and the potential for offense that lies in offering a minuscule value for them compared to what they believe they are worth.
I hope these above tips are helpful for you the next time you are negotiating the purchase of a property, and also provide you insight the next time you are selling a property into what the buyers may or may not be thinking as well as their level of inexperience in real estate negotiations.
In summary, we discussed lowball offers, hard-line negotiation tactics, excessive nitpicking, incremental negotiations, and asking for too many extras along with the purchase of the home.
If you have any more questions or have any real estate needs, give me a shout and I would love to take care of your questions and real estate needs. Connect with me on social and stay up to date on what I'm up to and how the market is doing! If there are any topics you would like to learn more about, drop me a line and let me know or comment below!