How to buy a house: 5 tips to get the best deal

Hank Bailey
Hank Bailey
Published on February 18, 2019

Each year as we move through Fall and into Winter we hear that home prices are falling, the inventory of available homes is beginning to grow and, if you look closely, you’ll see a crack beginning to form in that once-fiery sellers’ market. This can change back into seller momentum however as we move into Spring.

In the new-home market we see builders and developers offering buyers attractive incentives. The resale market is expected to catch up as interest rates rise, so let’s get you prepared to get the best deal possible when you buy a house.

1. Why are they selling?

There are a number of reasons people sell their homes and a seller’s reason, or motivation as it’s known in the real estate industry, is powerful information in the hands of the buyer. For me, I always bend the listing agent’s ear to see what information I can get out of them!

If the homeowner is selling because of a divorce or job relocation they may be in a bit of a hurry to sell. This is information we can use in structuring your offer (offering a quick close, for instance) to soften the blow of a lower price.

2. How long has the home been on the market?

This is information that we can get for you from our MLS. Why is this information important?

Recently listed homes are still in their “honeymoon” phase with buyers and agents. There is a lot of activity surrounding a new-to-the market home so the seller has very little motivation to accept a low offer.

As the home sits on the market with few offers, the seller may become more desperate to sell and, thus, more likely to entertain a lower sales price.

We can also let you know the average number of days homes in the neighborhood remain on the market. If the home you have your eye on has been listed for longer than that, you may be dealing with a very motivated seller, putting you in a strong negotiating position.

3. Study the pricing history

We’re happy to look up the pricing history of homes you’re interested in. This is more than just what Zillow says, for example, about the current listing, but MLS can let me go back to each and every time the house was listed to see what price movement the seller might have made to show us what they may be willing to do for us today in the form of an offer! From the time the home is first listed, the MLS will show us how many price changes have occurred, whether they were price hikes or reductions.

A seller who has reduced the home’s price more than once is a seller who needs to get the home sold.

4. Timing is everything

Make sure you don’t give the sellers too much time to think about it. A 24-hour acceptance request is quite common and a strategic move in your position as a bargain hunter.

5. Get help with your closing costs

Getting the best deal on a home doesn’t always mean getting the home for a discounted price. If the seller won’t budge on price and you truly want the home, we’ll find ways for you to save money in other parts of the transaction.

One of the easiest is to negotiate closing costs by asking the seller to pay them. Sure, some will balk at this. Others might raise the sales price of the home to absorb the costs.

The danger in the latter scenario is that the new price may exceed market value and not meet the bank’s appraisal amount.

Put yourself in the seller’s shoes. The sale of a home is often an emotional event. The right real estate agent in your corner will be able to negotiate on your behalf while appealing to the sellers’ emotions.

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