Phew! You’ve already found the right real estate agent, gotten your home ready for sale, learned how to safely sell your home during COVID-19, learned how to sell your home in a seller’s market, and learned how to choose the best offer on your home during a bidding war.
Now, it’s time to learn how to negotiate without losing a buyer. Even the best offer you receive can always be negotiated for better or more convenient terms.
In the current seller’s market, the seller has the advantage because there are more buyers looking for homes than there are homes for sale. Lucky for you, this means the seller has a lot of room to negotiate, whether it’s for more money, fewer seller concessions, or lower closing costs.
When negotiating, it’s important to consider the full picture and what is most important to your specific situation. You may negotiate on all the aspects mentioned below or focus mostly on the part of the offer you’d like to modify the most. Either way, the buyer — and their agent — also has the right to negotiate on their behalf. And once you provide a counteroffer, it’s considered a brand new offer and allows the buyer to walk away.
Negotiating with a potential buyer can often be the trickiest part of selling your home, but relying on your agent’s expertise and having a game plan can make the process not so scary.
Higher selling price
Price is the most obvious piece to negotiate in a buyer’s offer, and you may be able to do so successfully in a seller’s market. In a buyer’s market, however, you may not have much leverage to ask the buyer for a higher selling price.
To determine how much to ask, consider additional offers you received but ultimately pushed to the side. This can give you a good idea of your local market and how much others were willing to pay for your home. If you don’t ask for enough, you’ll leave money on the table. Ask for too much, and you risk turning off the buyer and them backing out of the deal.
Financing can often make or break a deal. A buyer may put a minimum toward a down payment and rely on a loan for the additional amount. But, the deal could fall through if the lender’s appraisal doesn’t come back high enough — specifically, at the selling price or higher. A lender’s appraisal assures they can recoup the amount of the loan in the case of a foreclosure — this is why banks will generally loan just 80% of appraisal amount.
As a seller, offers with higher down payments are often more attractive, as the deal is less likely to fall through as a result of a low appraisal. When countering with a buyer, you may require a higher down payment to reduce this risk.
A concession is a benefit or monetary gift offered by the buyer or seller to close a deal. For example, if a buyer asks for you to repair a driveway, you may instead offer to give the buyer money to do so on their own, which would be included in your closing costs.
This is typically done if a buyer cannot afford to make the necessary repairs on their own or if you’re looking to close quickly and don’t wish to wait for a contractor to make the repair.
A contingency is an additional condition to an offer and usually favors the buyer. The contingent sale clause is the least desirable contingency. It means that if the buyer is unable to sell their own home, they can back out without any repercussions, and you’re left at square one — either negotiating with another offer or putting your home back on the market.
Other contingencies include being approved for financing, a buyer moving into the home within a certain period, or a professional inspection — the latter of which is most common. Generally, sellers want as few contingencies as possible.
If you receive a contingency offer, you can flat out deny it by crossing it out, or you can limit the contingency by time or cost. For instance, you may agree to an inspection contingency but specify that the inspection must be performed within two weeks. This prevents the closing date from dragging on.
Counteroffer expiration date
Regardless of what terms of an offer you decide to negotiate, always consider adding an expiration date to your counteroffer. The buyer should be able to decide quickly whether they can agree to your new offer or if they will decline and move on.
An expiration date allows you to continue to the next offer if necessary and avoid wasting valuable time.