How to Negotiate When Buying a Home

How to Negotiate When Buying a Home

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When buying a home, one of the first things you likely will think about is whether you’ll be able to wiggle down the price. But while the price is important, it’s not the only negotiable part of a sale.

There are plenty of other ways to make a deal aside from the listing price, from requesting home repairs to offering a quick closing. So, what exactly can you negotiate? Here are seven items worth haggling over when purchasing your next home.

1. Repairs

Although it’s a competitive market, you never want to risk foregoing a home inspection to speed up the process and appeal to sellers, or you could be blindsided by unexpected repairs once you move into your new house. A better idea? Move forward with the home inspection—making sure to attend and review the findings of the inspection—and then use the findings as a potential bargaining chip.

Also take into account any large investments that would need to be made in the home, as this could be a helpful negotiating tool if there are things that need to be repaired or replaced in the near term. If your inspection reveals any issues, you can ask the sellers to make repairs as a condition of the sale, but remember that it’s not always a given that the sellers will be willing to budge.

2. Time to close

Having a flexible schedule can make your offer more attractive to sellers. Be sure to pay attention to the needs of the seller regarding timelines. Most homeowners have an idea of when they need or would like to close, so giving a little here can get you a lot on the other end.

In most cases, both you and the sellers are dealing with a move, which is a stressful situation for everyone involved. Making the process more convenient for the seller can bolster your offer. For example, consider closing earlier and offering the seller a short rent back to allow them an easier move into their next home.

3. Closing costs

These fees typically cost between 2 percent and 7 percent of the home’s purchase price, and that can be a major burden for buyers, especially after handing over a large sum for a down payment.

Rather than playing hardball on the list price of the home, try asking the seller for help covering closing costs. Requesting a credit toward closing costs from the seller reduces the cash needed to close the transaction, which benefits the seller by increasing the likelihood you close the transaction. You also can offer to offset the seller’s credit toward closing by offering a higher price on the home.

4. Decor

If your dream house is already decorated to your liking, it’s totally fair to negotiate on decor, furniture, light fixtures, appliances or other pieces you love.

Just ask the seller if they’ll be willing to leave appliances or furniture that you would otherwise have to buy. Note: This can sometimes complicate your loan, and sometimes it is staged furniture—not the seller’s—to sell.

5. Home cleaning

Keep in mind that although the home is new to you, it’s not necessarily a clean home. One way to handle this issue: Ask the sellers to pay for a deep clean before you move in. No matter how tidy a home is kept, there always are nooks and crannies that get overlooked because of furniture and appliances.

6. Home warranty

A home warranty can offer peace of mind to home buyers. It not only covers the cost to repair or replace major appliances if they break, but it also can cover the expenses of fixing HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems.

In some cases, it makes sense to negotiate for the seller to cover a home warranty as part of the buying process. When the seller pays for the warranty, it can be a win-win for both parties by providing warranty coverage for the seller while the home is listed for sale.

7. Your own fees and expenses

Buying in a seller’s market is tricky. When sellers have multiple bids, buyers are in a weaker position to negotiate. You still can advocate for yourself, however, by finding the best deal possible on your mortgage and other expenses.

Begin by reaching out to multiple mortgage lenders to compare your options and get the best interest rate. Then ask about other fees that might be negotiable. There is no harm in trying to negotiate the lender fees and expenses. Title insurance can be costly, for instance, so ask your lender about getting multiple quotes.

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