Negotiating your Sale in a Buyers Market

By: Sanjog Gopal

For the moment we can mostly forget the days when five buyers were all clamoring for our house and we chose the ones with the cutest kid. Nowadays, if a buyer presents itself (and its offer!) we are quaking in our boots wondering if we even dare to counter-offer to get the deal without rocking the boat!

Of course, the realtor will do all this nerve-wracking stuff for us, and he will have more 'inside information' to go one, but we are still involved as the buck stops with us! Several key points are relevant in all negotiations. Very briefly these are: state of the market; extras involved (if any); buyer's financing; negotiating skills; who has the advantage?

Well, in the first case, we all know the state of the market. It is the type of market where it is better to be buying than selling! Therefore this could be one black mark to you (okay - gray mark).

As for the extras involved, this will be entirely up to you. But if there are extras involved, it will swing the balance back to a more fair level. Buying a house is not all about money, as most of us realize.

Our emotions are involved; the 'feel' of the house, the neighborhood and some practical aspects are all tantamount to our choice. However, after that, the bottom line is hard cash!

This is where you can pull the balance a little over to your side by offering some unlisted extras. For instance if it is 15 years since you bought your refrigerator and they would probably buy the house if you bought a new one - buy a new one! The cost is a very small percentage - very small - of the purchase price. There is an old proverb that covers this type of deal: setting a mouse to catch a tiger. You throw away a little thing to entice the big thing.

You may have to offer more, but if it will clinch the deal it may be worth it. For instance, if they want you to get the roof done before they move in, talk to your realtor about whether this will really guarantee a definite sale.

As far as the prospective buyer's financing goes, your real estate agent will have the entire scoop on that one, it is part of his job to try and assess the genuine purchasing power of any prospective buyer.

There is one other way that is gaining more popularity in this market, that of actually making a 'seller's contribution'. This means you will offer to pay for some of the expenses involved in buying the house.

Help the buyer to proceed: it could be anything, but you are probably best advised in helping with the closing costs, as at least you will be nearer to the finalities by then. This is a better way of helping than dropping the asking price, which would mean delays while the legal agreement that you had both signed was changed.

With regard to expertise, these days you can find buyer's agent's as well as seller's agents although most home-owners seem to stick to the traditional method of sale. However, when you choose your real estate agent, try to be objective about assessing his negotiating skills. Is he sincere and charismatic, or does something of his manner irritate you slightly? Choose carefully, he will be representing your bank balance!

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