12 Awesome Real Estate Negotiation Tips for Home Buyers

Negotiation can turn a bad deal into a good deal, turn an undesirable house into the perfect new home, and save you plenty of money. The final agreement between buyer and seller is key, providing a counterbalance to judge the entire value of your new home. Your buying agent will be skilled in negotiation, but there are some important things that you, as a buyer, can do on your own to make sure you get the best deal. Here are 12 tips:1. Do your research
Research is 90% of the negotiation process. Before you begin communicating with any agents or sellers, you should gather information on your own. Knowledge is power, and the more you can learn about the local pricing information and value of features (such as fireplace, views, utilities, location) the more leverage you will have during negotiation. Before you step out the door, buckle down and take some notes. You never know what information will come in handy during negotiation.2. Set your boundaries in advance
Sit down alone, without an agent, and run through your personal finances to determine your “absolute” spending limit. Check and double check your calculations, and have confidence in your boundaries. Your spending limit must be based on your finances, not the negotiation process. Once you have a clear figure in mind, set it as your firm limit, and don’t budge.3. Declare your comfortable spending limit
Once you have your absolute limit, take off about 5-10% and call this your “comfortable” spending limit. This is the limit you should communicate to your agent so they can help you negotiate. Your agent is your friend, and they are motivated to get you the best deal, but they are also business people. Their main goal is to make a sale, and sometimes an agent has more incentive to sell quickly rather than hold out for the best price. Only let them know your comfortable limit, adding that you might be willing to spend more for an exceptional home at an unbeatable deal.4. Get pre-approved
Before you begin your search, get pre-approved for a home loan. If you’re “ready to buy” you can get the attention of sellers itching to sell quickly. You’ll move up on their priority list and this could help you gain leverage when negotiations begin. You’ll come off as a no-nonsense buyer who’s ready for action-if the deal is good enough.5. Don’t be emotional
When looking at a new house, or talking with an agent, try not to appear overly emotional. Showing emotions can send subtle (or not so subtle) signals that you wouldn’t necessarily want to convey. If you’re seeing a new home and you’re excited because it’s just what you’re looking for, appear “interested” rather than excited. Excitement, or any display of a lack of calm rationality, can be a sign that your spending limit might be as flexible as your feelings. Along the same lines, if you’re unimpressed with a home, try to avoid criticizing it. Appearing too negative will send the message that you could be a pain to work with, or it could offend the seller.6. Ask questions about every house you visit
So you’ve found a house that you’re interested in and you need to ask more questions, but you want to avoid coming off as “too” interested. How do you get the information you need while remaining aloof? The best way to not be obvious about your enthusiasm is to make sure you ask the same important questions at each house you visit. Make sure you come off as an inquisitive, diligent, and methodical buyer every time you view a house. When you find a house that excites you, you can gather all the information you need without tipping off the seller.7. Learn about the seller
The more information you have, the more power you have in negotiations. If you can learn specifics about the seller, you can gain insight into their needs and potentially gain precious leverage. Why are they selling? Are they desperate to sell fast, because their life has taken an unexpected turn? Are they in a good position to wait patiently for the best deal? What kind of a deal are they looking for, and how can you give them what they need while still getting what you need? The more you understand about their circumstances, the more you’ll be able to spot where your expectations overlap with theirs. The best deals are found within the center of the Venn diagram.8. Don’t rush
Many people fear that the house they want will get sold to another buyer before they have a chance to negotiate, so they feel that it’s best to make an offer early. Many real estate experts agree that this worry is often unfounded. If you’re interested in a house, the seller will know, and even if they have other offers, they will still have incentive to give each potential buyer proper consideration. Waiting to make an offer will always make the offer more valuable. Always wait a few days before making your initial offer. When you finally come around with your offer, the buyer will be relieved, and you’ll find yourself in a stronger position.9. Have a strong initial offer
Many people underestimate the importance of an initial offer. Even though the final price will be determined through negotiation, the initial offer plays a huge role in informing the price. A good rule of thumb is to offer 20-30% lower than your comfortable spending limit. Keep in mind that if your offer is too low it can offend the seller, and if your offer is too high it will end up dramatically increasing the final price. When you make a low initial offer, always give the seller a good reason, such as the local market, your budget, or other factors in the home’s value. This will show that you’re basing your offer upon logic, and you’re inviting further conversation.10. Be reluctant to increase your offer
Make sure the agent “convinces” you to increase your offer. Always be reluctant to increase, and only agree when a strong argument has been made. It never hurts to wait. Avoid accepting offers to meet halfway. The final sale price isn’t decided by the splitting your offer with the seller’s asking price. Both offers should be treated as stepping-stones on your path to the final sale price. Make sure to crawl your offer up slowly and carefully.11. Keep a bargaining chip
You’ll be negotiating more than just a sale price. The terms of the agreement will determine things like move-in date, closing costs, inspections, included furniture and features, as well as other incentives. Early on in the negotiation, hold on to one aspect of the agreement that you don’t necessarily need. Don’t let on that the issue isn’t important to you, but hold onto it as if it’s necessary. Near the end of the negotiation, you can concede on the issue as a final bargaining chip. This will help give you one final push toward closing the deal.12. Be confident, positive, and respectful
Start off your search by reminding yourself that you’re on the path to your perfect home. Have confidence in yourself and your ability to work within any situation, stay positive, and get what you need, no matter what unforeseen challenges come your way. Remembering that you’re dealing with people, with families, and you’re all about to make one of the most important decisions of your lives. A “good deal” isn’t good unless everybody gets what they need. You’re not just searching for a new home; you’re searching for the perfect circumstance, the perfect deal. At the end of your path lies your new life. You’ll help plenty of people along the way, and many people will help you. Make the best of your situation, and enjoy your new home!