We are taught from our early years, in our introduction to commerce that prices are prices.
Whether you walk into a clothing store, a supermarket, a gas station, or a coffee shop, the posted prices are typically non-negotiable. Generally speaking, attempting to haggle in cases such as these won’t get you too far.
This is because the seller has a business which is running perfectly fine on selling the products they’re selling at their quoted prices, so they need not entertain lowballers, when they can sell the product that you’re trying to get cheaper, at the full price.
But who is the seller of a house? An individual just like you, me, or any other human being out there.
No matter how corporate-looking of a sign goes up in front of the house, and how many barriers are put between you and the seller, who is a fellow human being, still ends up getting your offer in their hands, despite passing through many other peoples’ hands in the process. They have no corporate policies to stick to – how much they’ll accept is only a question of how happy it will make them.
When a seller signs a listing agreement – let’s say for example’s sake, for $500,000 – they’re not saying $500,000 because they want $500,000. They’re saying $500,000 because they want their house sold, and it’s their understanding that a buyer will see $500,000 as a reasonable price, which will cause them to make an offer, and then, cause the house to be sold. Until then,the house is nothing more than “For Sale”, whether it’s listed for $5, or $500,000.
Once the house sits on the market for a month or two, they won’t be so set on $500,000. Because their house is still only “For Sale”, and they want it SOLD!
Here are 4 tactics you can utilize to get yourself a better price…
1. How many days on the market?
In hot markets, a house will only need a matter of days, or in some cases, hours, to get sold. In these cases, you can forget about making a deal, since there’s so much competition. A lowball offer will simply be ignored.
However, if the house has been on the market for 45 days, and has seen no action, an offer for less than the asking price is better than no offer at all.
Look at it this way; if you were trying to sell your bicycle for $200, and put classified ads in the paper week after week, to get no response, which of the two scenarios would you prefer?
a) One offer of $100
b) No offers at all
So, that means that if a house is listed for $329,000, and your budget is $300,000, your offer for $300,000 suddenly won’t look so bad.
Remember, if the house hasn’t sold yet, that means there have been no good offers – or no offers at all! An offer that works for you, could very well be an offer that works for the seller!
2. What else is there on the market?
Why is it that the $5 sandwich you can buy in the food court sells at the airport, sports game or movie theater for $12?
Simple – that’s what everyone else there is charging! If one place raised their prices to $12 at the food court, nobody would go there because other establishments in the same food court are just charging $5.
The same way that while a listing might swear up and down that this is the “best deal on the market”, and “great bang for your buck” at $450,000, if a similar house down the street is going for $379,000, nobody is going to offer on that house for the simple reason that the extra $71,000 is not worth it!
Is this a sign that you should walk away since that house is priced too high? Absolutely not!
It’s common knowledge that the house down the street is asking just $379,000. By making an offer of, say, $385,000 to the house listed at $450,000, and saying in the offer “The house down the street is listed for just $379,000. This is my offer.”
If this shows them that your offer is what the market will bear, then you have what you want (the house), and they have what they want (sold!).
3. What’s wrong with the house?
Whether there’s something wrong with it or not, find something to complain about.
Is the carpeting stained? Are those appliances falling apart? Is that unstable handrail making you uncomfortable? Say something!
It may be one thing for the house to be on the market for a long time, or for other houses in the area to be priced lower, but it’s another thing if there are defects in the house.
Instead of asking the seller to fix them, make a lower offer having factored those defects.
Now, you’re probably thinking, “But I’ll have to pay to get those things repaired, right?”
Be that as it may, a little ingenuity can get most problems solved pretty inexpensively.
Carpets: Rent a carpet cleaner from your local home improvement store, or put a coffee table over larger stains to make them disappear. You may even have planned to replace them anyway to match your furniture!
Appliances: If appliances are falling apart, chances are they’re older appliances. Is your city offering incentives towards new and more energy-efficient appliances? This could be the perfect opportunity to not only get your shiny new appliances cheaper, but get them hauled away for free too!
Handrail: If you know somebody who’s handy, in most cases, all it will take is a couple of small fixes to make a handrail stable again. At worst, most interior handrails will only cost a few hundred dollars to replace, so it is not worth letting it get in the way of a decision worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
4. How badly must the seller sell?
One of the reasons people use agents to sell their house is to avoid direct contact with the buyer. Should the seller have personal circumstances which might affect just how much a buyer might offer, they’ll want that to not be blatantly obvious.
However, look for the clues when you walk though the house. Personal effects can suggest a few things about what circumstances in the seller’s life might be causing them to sell. A brochure from the Canada Revenue Agency about taxation on a retired individual is an indicator that somebody in the house (probably the owner), is retiring. Neatly kept childrens’ bedrooms which appear to not have been lived in for some time might tell you that their kids moved out to go to school, and the house is now too big for them.
Also, look for the key words such as “motivated seller” in the listings. Remember, they’re motivated to sell – not to get their asking price. That’s secondary. A sale for less is better than no sale for nothing.