A buyer’s market means it’s the seller’s turn to be flexible, especially with sale terms. Purchase price, closing dates, move-in dates, storage, appliances, window treatments, points and fees may all require a little negotiation. Whatever the terms, don’t let personal feelings stand in the way of a good deal.
In a buyer’s market, curb appeal, cleanliness, overall good condition and updates are especially crucial. Any little flaw should be taken care of before the first buyer drives up.
Attend open houses in your neighborhood to see what “sell-ready” really looks like. If you’re shy, ask your Better Homes and Gardens Mason-McDuffie Real Estate sales associate to walk you through a few sell-ready examples.
Back home, start with the exterior to ensure you’re making a good first impression. Reseed or throw down some turf on lawn patches, change the lights in the lamppost, and if necessary, reset the walkway stone.
Clean the interior beyond your standards. Even if they are impeccable, rent an industrial carpet cleaner or hire a professional cleaning service. Brighten the interior ambience with light fixture updates, as new lighting is one of the most inexpensive and noticeable improvements you can make prior to listing.
Fix leaky faucets and make sure the water pressure is strong in both the kitchen and bathrooms.
If necessary, a great way to improve the appearance of your home is to paint. Use only neutral colors that can easily lend themselves to different décor and styles of furniture.
Don’t reject low offers; negotiate
Don’t dismiss lower-than-expected offers. Instead, consider buyer incentives that help you meet your asking price. Offer to pay the buyer’s closing costs, moving costs or loan origination fee. These can help the buyer with upfront costs. As well, you may consider offering a limited home warranty that covers HVAC systems and some appliances for a definitive period of time.
Be careful of purchase offers that are contingent on the buyer selling their home first. Their home may be in a softer market than yours and you could be in for a long wait. Be sure that the purchase agreement includes a contingency-release clause. This way you’ll be able to sell if another buyer comes along.
Work with your Better Homes and Gardens Mason-McDuffie Real Estate agent to find creative solutions to make a deal come together. The purchase price is just part of the deal. Anything that makes your property stand apart from the competition will give it an edge in a buyer’s market.
What makes for a winning offer?
1. Get pre-approved
Before writing an offer – and ideally before you even begin your search – meet with your bank or other financial advisor, the one who will be giving you your mortgage, and get pre-approved. When it’s time to put forth an offer, the seller will know you’re serious.
2. Understand the local context
List prices are often subjective. Look to your Better Homes and Gardens Mason-McDuffie Real Estate agent to advise you on pricing strategy. In the end, it’s important that you know the real estate situation yourself to determine if the property is fairly priced, based on comparable, recently sold properties. There’s no rule of thumb that says going in under asking is expected. Market conditions will dictate the selling price. Keep in mind that homes will also occasionally be under-priced to attract multiple offers. This circumstance may call for a bid over the initial asking price.
3. Understand and adjust to the seller’s interests
Asking the right questions prior to writing an offer can often make the difference between an accepted offer and a stalled negotiation. Some contract terms may be of great significance to the seller, whereas only a slight inconvenience for you. Should the seller want to rent the place back, for example, for a few days or weeks after escrow, your written flexibility on the move out/in date could close the deal in your favor.
4. Make a strong deposit part of your offer
You’ll want to submit an earnest money deposit when writing an offer, payable to a reputable escrow company, to be delivered by your agent no more than three business days after the acceptance of the offer. Even when delivering an offer below asking price, offer a large deposit if possible, and it will pay dividends in the end. Down payment strategies however may vary. In some areas, a smaller deposit is the norm. Regardless of location, a higher deposit will most likely strengthen your negotiating power.
5. Provide an appropriate time for the seller’s response
Time is of the essence once you decide to take the plunge, especially regarding a newer listing in which the risk is high that other buyers will potentially submit offers. Typically, the seller is given until 5PM on the third day from receipt of the offer to respond, unless you write in a different date and time. If the offer is strong, speed up the response time. Your Better Homes and Gardens Mason-McDuffie Real Estate agent can advise you on what strategy will work best.