6 Things You Can Negotiate When Buying a Home

By Dan Rafter on 20 February 2018 0 comments

You've found the home of your dreams. Now comes the hard part: You need to make an offer that the sellers will accept. Of course, making a full-price offer will help you land almost any home. But what if you want to negotiate? Will this turn off the homeowners and scuttle your chances?

Not necessarily. Yes, many parts of the country are in the middle of a seller's market, giving homeowners an advantage in negotiations. But this doesn't mean that buyers can't negotiate on everything from move-in dates to selling price to repairs.

Don't be afraid to ask for concessions from sellers. Sellers might make a counteroffer, but if you're making reasonable requests, the odds are that they won't suddenly break off negotiations.

Here are the things you should feel comfortable about negotiating when buying a home.

1. Price

The first thing buyers think of when it's time to negotiate? The sales price.

Maybe you love the home you've just toured, but you think it's priced a bit too high. When it's time to submit your offer, ask for a lower sales price. Sellers can reject your offer, accept it, or make a counteroffer.

If you get a counteroffer, you now have a choice to make: Do you accept the new price offered by the seller, or do you try to shave a few more dollars off the price?

Don't be shy about asking for a lower asking price. But do your research first. Work with your real estate agent to determine what similar homes in the neighborhood are selling for and make an offer that fits within these comparable listings. Don't lowball the sellers with an unreasonable offer; that will get negotiations off to a bad start. Some sellers might simply end negotiations with you immediately. (See also: Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Buying a Home)

2. Closing date

Maybe you need to move into your new home quickly because your apartment lease is expiring. Or maybe you'd like a later move-in date, after your children finish the school year. You can negotiate the closing date of your home sale.

Closing day is when you, your real estate agent, and officials from your title insurance company, along with everyone representing the home's sellers, meet to sign the papers and present the certified checks that make your purchase of your new home official. When negotiating your home sale, you can request a quicker or a later closing date.

Don't be surprised, though, if the home's sellers push back. They, too, have their own preferred date when they want to move. You might need to negotiate some back-and-forth before settling on a closing date that works for everyone.

3. Closing costs

Buying a home isn't cheap. You'll have to pay plenty in closing costs, the fees that your mortgage lender and other third-party providers — such as title insurers — charge you at the closing table. Closing costs can vary, but you can expect to pay from 2 to 5 percent of your home's purchase price.

You can, though, request that the home's sellers pay for these closing costs. This has become a more common factor to negotiate as the price of homes has steadily risen.

Sellers have no duty to pay your closing costs, of course. But many will agree to pay these costs out of the profits from their home sale as a way of keeping a real estate transaction alive. (See also: Here's What's Included in a Home's Closing Costs)

4. Major appliances

Some sellers plan to take their refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers with them when they sell their house. But maybe you'd like them to leave these major appliances behind. After all, you might be cash-strapped after buying a home. Having these pricey appliances in place when you move in could be a boon to your bottom line.

Many sellers won't object to leaving appliances because they weren't planning on taking them anyway. It's important to get in writing what stays with the home after the sale and what goes.

5. Repairs

After your offer is accepted, it's time to schedule your home inspection. An inspector will tour the home you are buying and point out any potential problems. If the problems are too severe, you might be able to walk away from the sale without losing your earnest money deposit.

But often, inspectors find smaller problems with a home. Maybe a furnace is nearing the end of its expected life, or maybe the kitchen sink's faucet drips. After viewing your inspection report, you can request that the sellers repair these more minor problems before you close on the home. You can also request that the sellers provide you a financial credit at closing so that you can hire a contractor to fix the problems on your own.

To keep the home closing on schedule, many sellers will agree to these requests. (See also: Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here's What It Will Cost You)

6. Furniture and other large fixtures

Love that swing set in the backyard? Or maybe you think the oversized couch in the living room is perfect for your new home. You can always request that the sellers leave specific items behind.

Some sellers will be happy to leave behind, for example, a swing set that's pounded into the earth of their backyard. Others might plan to purchase brand-new furniture after they move, so won't mind leaving behind a couch or love seat.

You never know unless you ask, so don't be shy about negotiating over these items.

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