How much negotiation should we expect when buying a home?
Some homes sell for 100% of asking price, even months after they have come on the market. Others sell for 25% off ask. How does a buyer even begin to know how much to expect to “negotiate off” the asking price of a home?
Community practices are a good place to start. In the North Hills, for example, homes typically sell for very close to asking price – if a home is priced too far above what the market will bear, buyers simply sit and wait for sellers to reduce. In Sewickley Heights, on the other hand, large discounts are commonplace.
It’s also important to consider how long a home has been on the market since it’s last price reduction. If it’s been a few months, there may be more room to negotiate.
The time of year and market activity and other important factors. In the spring market, homes are far more likely to yield higher realizations. This has been a very hot spring market – if you are buying this time of year and looking for a large discount, you may be disappointed.
Listing agent pricing styles are also relevant – some agents price to allow for large amounts of negotiation and others prefer to choose a price very close to market value in an effort to engender more enthusiasm about a home –knowing the agent’s average realization will help you determine the best approach to take if you actually want to be successful in your negotiations.
Finally, and most importantly, its important to review and understand the comparable homes, including price per square foot and neighborhood particularities. If a home is priced at or below the price at which comparable homes in similar locations have sold, it’s highly unlikely a deep discount offer will succeed.
Before you determine how much to offer and how you will approach your negotiations, ask yourself how much you want to own the home. If you are dreaming about raising your family there and your goal is to actually own the home, take a realistic look at the above factors before diving too deep with your offer.
Is a seller expected to help pay for the buyer’s closing costs and if so, how much?
Sellers often contribute to buyers’ closing costs in lower price ranges and in first time home buyer situations. Typically buyer closing costs are not less 3% of the cost of the home and may be as much s 6%. Buyer closing costs include expenses such as transfer taxes (1%), lender fees, title insurance, property tax proration, homeowners’ insurance premiums and pre-paid mortgage interest. These fees can add up quickly. Sometimes buyers do not have enough cash saved to be able to pay their required down payment and their closing costs as well. They may be very well qualified to buy in that their salary is high enough to afford the monthly payment, but they just don’t have enough cash saved.
When this happens, buyers will look to sellers for help in paying the closing costs that the buyer would normally have paid. This is normally expressed as a percentage of the purchase price. For example, the buyer might ask the seller to pay 3% of the purchase price toward their closing costs. The seller is automatically netting 3% less in this scenario, before they pay their own closing costs which normally range between 7% – 8% of the sales price.
Before you jump to the conclusion that sellers often won’t agree to contribute toward a buyer’s closing costs, stop and look at the greater picture. Normally sellers who help with closing costs are receiving 100% (or very close to that) of their asking price. On the other hand, it’s a rare day that any listing sells for 100% of its asking price, and the average “realization” before seller expenses in Quaker Valley School District is less than 90%. So paying 3% in closing cost assistance but getting a 100% (or close) offer might be your best deal!
Continuing from last week:
We’re first time home buyers – where do we begin?
Hopefully after reading my article last week, you were motivated to get serious about buying a home and began the process. As I discussed last week, you should be saving your down payment, keeping your credit in excellent shape, getting pre-approved by a recommended lender and researching and selecting a Buyer’s Agent. So what’s next.? The fun begins!
Your Buyer’s Agent should set you up to receive new listings via email as soon as they become available. To streamline the process, it is a good idea for you to pre-screen these homes before going to see them. Check them out online and on google earth, do a drive by to make sure there is nothing that you would object to that is readily apparent. Once you have done your initial screening, go to see the home as soon as possible. Our inventory is at record lows. If you love a home you can be sure that there are at least a dozen other buyers considering the home and you will need to be ready to make an immediate offer. Along these lines, it is important that you have developed a relationship with your Buyer’s Agent and trust her judgment. When the right home becomes available you may have to pay full price to get it, and you need to be working with someone you feel you can trust on those decisions. In this market there is rarely time to test out the seller if it is a great house and is well priced.
When making the offer, allow about 2 hours to go over the contract with your Buyer’s Agent. You will want your agent to review the details with you and there are many decisions you will need to make when writing the offer.
You will need to work with your agent to decide how much to offer initially, how much hand money to put down, a closing date, the mortgage terms you plan to apply for and time periods for inspections. You will list the items that are in the house that you expect to stay there, such as dishwashers, refrigerators and window treatments. There are many other custom terms you may want to include – you may want to include an appraisal contingency. You may be looking for the seller to address certain deficiencies that you noted while walking through, such as cleaning gutters. All of the things that are important to you about the home must be written into the contract or they will not happen in the future. Oral agreements are not binding when it comes to the sale of property. Your Buyer’s Agent has hopefully paid close attention to everything you noted while viewing the home and will make sure that the Offer reflects all of your wishes.
Once you have signed the offer (and no, you can’t just make a verbal offer – as mentioned above, everything concerning land must be in writing) the offer will be presented to the seller and you will begin negotiations with your seller. Stay tuned as the process of buying your home continues to unfold next week…