real estate

7 questions to ask before buying a home

How flexible is the seller on the asking price?
How flexible is the seller on the asking price? | ONOKY – Eric Audras/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

How flexible is the seller on the asking price?

If you insult the seller with a lowball offer, you could lose your shot at the house. To avoid offending the homeowner, ask the seller's agent how firm the seller is on price, Irwin says. You can have this conversation directly with the seller's agent or have your agent ask the question.

Keeping it in terms of "how flexible are they on the price?" instead of "how much less will they take?" allows you to feel out the situation without offending the seller, Irwin says.

Not every seller will be willing to bargain, so if your strategy is to make lowball offers, plan to make "offers on several properties before you connect with a seller who will deal," Irwin says.

A question that often goes hand in hand: Is the seller willing to help with the closing costs?

On foreclosed homes, a seller's contribution to closing costs "certainly is common with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because they want to sell their properties," Gaylord says. "And sellers who have equity in their property and want to help are helping."

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