Sellers today have to do more to attract buyers and offers than ever before. When offers come in, sometimes they are low or have conditions that have to be negotiated. As a seller, you can be proactive before the offers come in to make sure negotiations are kept to a minimum and in your favor.
Negotiate by planning ahead
Before you begin negotiations with any buyer, make sure you have the upper hand by removing any sticking points in advance.
Price your home to sell at or below current market comparables and you’ll more likely receive serious offers close to your asking price. Put your home in spotless move-in condition, with no visible repairs needed. De-clutter your home, deep clean it, paint it and repair it, and keep it “show-ready” every day it’s on the market. Get your home inspected so you know where issues are and can correct them before they become negotiating points that cost you money.
Buyers respond well to fair pricing and a “model home” appearance. Your buyer has less to negotiate, and will more likely make an offer closer to asking price.
When the offer arrives
Buyers sometimes test sellers with low offers, but don’t get upset or discouraged. If the offer is too low, simply have your agent return the offer with a copy of recent comparables to show that your home is priced fairly at current market value. They will get the message, and either come back with a reasonable offer, or move on to another home. If the offer is low, but close to what you want, study the terms carefully, adding up possible expenses such as paying the buyer’s closing costs. Ask for the buyer’s reasoning behind the offer to give you insight into the buyer's mindset. Could the buyer be trying to buy more house than he or she can afford? Could a change of financing help get closer to your price? Can you afford to help with the buyer's closing costs if he or she will raise the offer price?
Before you agree, make sure the buyer is preapproved with a lender and working with a real estate professional. Serious buyers have access to the same comparables as you do, so a buyer working with a real estate professional is more likely to be preapproved by a lender and informed of current market conditions. A full price offer doesn’t mean negotiations are over. It could signal that the buyer intends to negotiate a lot of repairs or refurbishing costs during the inspection period. Stay calm and reasonable.
If you’ve done your homework – priced and prepared your home for the highest, best offer, your home will sell at a fair price.