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The Art of Successful Negotiation  Attention FSBO Buyers:


You've just found the FSBO home of your dreams and you are ready to make an offer.  Don't panic.  Remember, the seller wants to sell and you want to buy.  This is a "win-win" situation because you are both avoiding paying hefty real estate commissions.  If you don't think you're good at negotiating, think again.  We all negotiate every day - with our co-workers, our boss, even our kids.  Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid confrontation with the seller - cutting the property down in order to defend a "low ball" offer will often irritate the seller
  • Present the offer in person and accompany it with a letter of "pre-approval" for your financing
  • Agree verbally on 2 items: 1) Price and 2) Closing date... then the FSBO seller will prepare the paperwork. Before you sign the paperwork, have an attorney review it first, to make certain it says what you want it to say. If you are buying a property from an agent-listed home, ABSOLUTELY have an attorney review it BEFORE you sign. Agents are not attorneys, their concern is their commission and protecting their liability, not you, theri customer!   If you are making an offer that is lower than the seller expects, help to make it attractive in other ways.  Ex. Be flexible on the closing date if it helps the seller.
  • Stay positive  - if the seller turns down your initial offer it's not the end of the world.  It opens the door for negotiation through a counter-offer.  Try again, increasing your price slightly and ask that the seller leave behind the pool table that you are secretly coveting.
  • Be realistic - if your home must sell in order to purchase, offer to include a "kick out clause" to allow the seller to continue to market the property while waiting for your home to sell.
  • Be flexible - Anticipate and deal with issues that may arise during negotiations and consider a strategy beforehand.
  • Don't bring in a BUYER'S AGENT at the last minute to help you negotiate the sale.  This is very expensive for you and often disastrous and could derail your entire purchase.
  • If you are working with a BUYER'S AGENT, tell the seller UP FRONT and YOU, the buyer, must be prepared to pay your agent's commission.  Let the seller know that as well.

 

Tips for Home Buyers

1. Take a few moments to discuss what you're looking for with your spouse or partner before you start setting up appointments to look at properties. Make a list of "must have" features together, then discuss other "would like, but can live without" features. After you've looked at a dozen or so properties, re-evaluate your criteria. Often priorities shift with time.

2. Have a realistic idea of how much you can afford before you start looking (most lenders will pre-qualify you for free). Not only will this save you time, but will also provide you with more negotiating power!

3. Don't sign a contract with a BUYER'S AGENT that locks you into looking with him or her, or guarantees them a commission even if you find the house yourself! Specify, instead, that a commission will be paid only if you buy a property shown to you by that agent. This enables you to look with others, and also at For-Sale-By-Owner properties, at your own convenience.

4. Don't bring an agent with you to look at FSBO properties, or bring them into the picture when it's time to draw up a contract, unless you are willing to pay their commission through either a higher sales price, or out of your own pocket. Otherwise, you may risk losing the house (note: your lawyer or title company can help you if you aren't sure of the process).

5. If you find the house you want to buy before you've sold your home, and the seller is reluctant to sign a contract with you with the contingency that you sell your home first, you may draw up a contract that allows the seller to continue marketing and advertising the property yet gives you the "first right of refusal" should they receive another offer. This way you will be notified immediately if the seller has another offer, giving you an opportunity to re-offer if necessary.
Another option is to put a non-refundable deposit on the property. This shows the sellers that you are serious about buying their property.

6. If you sell your house before finding a home you want to buy, be sure your sales contract is contingent upon you, the seller, finding suitable housing!! We have heard several stories of people frantic to find a home under pressure, and even having to rent after the closing, because they sold first. Remember, the seller is legally bound to sell once the contract is signed.

7. When presenting an offer, be courteous and respectful of the sellers. In general, avoid criticizing the property with statements like "we don't care for the new carpeting, and therefore we'll have to replace it". This will not justify a lower offer and may possibly insult the sellers, decreasing your chances of their accepting your offer.

8. If you feel the property may be overpriced, yet the seller refuses a lower offer: Make your offer contingent upon the property appraising for the selling price or higher.

9. Request that you be permitted to walk-through the house (shortly before closing) after the furniture is removed to make sure that some of the home's faults weren't covered with furniture, rugs, or wall coverings. It is far easier to request compensation for necessary repair work before the house is sold than afterwards.

10. Request that the seller complete a property disclosure form, stating the condition of all aspects of the property, before you make an offer. (If the seller doesn't have a form, we have them at our FSBO stores.) If you are making an offer on a property listed with an agent, make sure you see the seller's disclosure information first. Agency-listed properties carry no guarantees, and it is the seller who is legally bound to be truthful in reporting the property's condition.

11. If you don't know much about building construction, don't worry. Simply make your offer contingent upon the property passing a professional home inspection. This is also an excellent way to become more familiar with the upkeep needs of your future home.

12. Put everything in writing. Your sales contract should spell out whether the washer and dryer stay, draperies, etc.

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