There’s no avoiding the fact that navigating a seller’s market as a buyer can be frustrating. However, if you play your cards right and have a knowledgeable agent by your side, you can still snag the right home. Once you find that home, there may be other buyers who have also decided they want it. At this point, it’s up to the seller to choose a new owner of their home. It may surprise you, but sometimes, sellers choose their buyers based on more than just finances. Here are some ways to tip the odds in your favor.
Negotiate with a Smile
Unlike most commercial real estate transactions, buying and selling a home can be complicated by all kinds of emotions. Often, how the seller feels about you can be more important than your money. People tend to do business with those they like and trust. For example, first-place bidders can miss out on their dream home by whipping out a long list of unreasonable demands for the seller while negotiating the contract. If you offend or upset the sellers, they may just wind up choosing a buyer with a lower bid.
Lesson learned? Don’t nitpick over items that are insubstantial, like a torn window screen or a $50 valve on a hot water heater. It’s not worth it in the long run because it will likely just overwhelm the seller, and possibly result in them giving up on you as a buyer. In a hot seller’s market, don’t ask for things like termite clearance and consider other things you may be able to do without like a seller-paid home warranty, for example.
Profit isn’t always the seller’s primary motivation. Especially during this seller’s market, they likely already know they’ll get a price they’re happy with. Oftentimes, sellers have emotional attachments to their homes. Perhaps the home has been in the family for a long time. Or, perhaps the seller just really wants to make sure their home gets passed down to someone they like. In such a case, a seller may bypass an investor with a higher offer for a financed first-time buyer. It may make the seller happy to know their home will be loved and lived in by a deserving buyer. It’s not uncommon for sellers to choose their buyers based on personal reasons, rather than strictly financial ones.
Figure Out the Sellers’ Unique Motivation
Understanding why the sellers have put their home on the market is yet another powerful tool a buyer can bring to the negotiating table. Sometimes sellers choose their buyers based on their own unique motivations. For instance, some sellers want a quick sale. Others need time to find a home. Some are focused on price, or on certainty. There are so many intangibles. It takes a deep understanding to make a good deal for everyone.
See what information you can glean about the seller to arm yourself with as much information as possible. Your agent should be able to help you find out this information. (This is why it’s so important you find yourself a local agent! They are more likely to have connections with the seller’s agent.)
Right now, the market is such that it’s easier to sell a home than it is to buy a home. Recently, we’ve seen sellers who are scared to sell their homes because they don’t know exactly where they’re going to end up. In that case, offering a free rentback may be a very valuable bargaining chip. The more flexible you can be, the better.
Consider terms you may be able to include that could help make your offer more attractive. For example, many buyers now are choosing to shorten contingency periods or even waive some of the contingencies. The standard contingencies are loan, appraisal, and inspection.
Write a Love Letter
Sometimes, a heartfelt note from a potential buyer can make all the difference, even when the chances seem pretty slim. When it comes to showcasing your desire to buy a home, a letter with your unique reasons for loving the home, along with a bit about yourself, can truly impact the seller’s decision. However, don’t write a letter if it’s not genuine. The sellers will notice that. Save love letters for when you’re really, truly, in love with the home.
Work With a Pro
It also helps to have a knowledgeable, well-respected pro on your side. This pro should be someone who understands market realities and will work well with the seller’s agent. A seasoned local agent will have relationships with other agents that may help them obtain insight into what it will take to win the house. How do you find that seasoned pro with a sterling reputation? Ask for referrals from your personal and professional network, and check out their online reviews. Residential real estate is a game of both head and heart. Smart buyers who employ both are the ones most likely to win the home of their dreams.
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Still Looking for Someone to Help You Through the Homebuying Process?
As real estate agents, it’s our job to help you figure out how your particular seller is choosing buyers. If you need a real estate expert by your side, we’d love to help. We’ve been helping buyers and sellers within the Long Beach area for over 20 years. We have a number of great working relationships within the real estate community and can sometimes find out information that others can’t. If you’d like any other information about how we help our buyers, please reach out to us. We’d love to help!
More resources for homebuyers:
- A Guide To Multiple Offers For Buyers And Sellers
- How To Get An Offer Accepted In A Seller’s Market
- Here’s What’s Different About 2021 Home Prices
- SERIES: Home Buying 101
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