20 steps to get
the best deal on a home
Determine the real value of the property. Buyers sometimes focus on how
large an offer it will take to "get" the home, and lose site of what
it's actually worth. But before you make an offer, sit down and determine, based
on tax records, which can often be found online, comparables and the other data,
just how much is the property actually worth? Then analyze the relationship between
the actual value of similar houses and their selling prices. Often there's a pattern,
and that can help you too, says Phipps. In addition, knowing the home's real value
serves as a good touchstone to keep you grounded during negotiations.
Research the sellers. Are they motivated? Do they have to move by a certain
date? While your offer should be determined by how much the house is worth, "There's
nothing wrong with doing some intelligence on the seller and using that to your
advantage," says Phipps. Your best source: the agent or the sellers themselves.
If the listing agent or the sellers are at home when you view the property try
to engage them in small talk. Ask them where they're going and why. "It's
amazing how many sellers and agents volunteer a lot," says Phipps. A buyer's
agent can also help in that area too, says Tyson." Your agent should do as
much inquiring as possible on the sellers and their situation," says Tyson.
While you do have to get a handle on why they're selling, "If you lowball
someone, they're not going to think you're serious," he says.
Look at the real numbers. Was it for
sale by owner? Have the sellers used other agents?
And how long has it really been on the market?
The current listing may show that the home has
only been on the market two weeks. But it may
not show that it's been on the market before
-- and recently. Some agents will pull a property
off the MLS, and then put it back on the market
to reset the clock, says Phipps.
A buyer's agent can look at the listing records
and determine just how long, in total, these
owners have been trying to sell that home. And
that can make a big difference in the offer
Leave room for a second offer. Many sellers will assume that if you knock
$20,000 off the price the first time around, you're looking for a counteroffer
that will reduce the asking price by $10,000, says Phipps. But it's a fine line
to walk. Offer too little and they won't believe you're a serious buyer; too high
and you leave little room to negotiate.