5 Simple Rules for Negotiating Your Offer and Getting that House

A Story by Sara Griffin | Updated 12/18/2018 12:00pm


Here’s the dream: Your offer is perfect, you don’t need to negotiate, and you can spend the next few weeks addressing more pressing home-ownership questions, like “Why is it called wainscoting?” and “Do I want a new couch in blush or emerald green?” And it could happen. Many sellers accept the best offer they receive, and for a variety of reasons. But sellers are also known to reject offers for a variety of reasons. Or make counteroffers. This is especially likely if you bid low, or when you’re up against multiple competing offers. If you do receive a counteroffer, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to accept the new contract, negotiate the terms, or walk away.

In cases such as these, look to me, your REALTOR®. I’m essentially your spirit guide – your advocate during the home buying process. If you decide you want to negotiate — that is, make a counteroffer to the seller’s counteroffer — I will use my negotiating skills to help get you the best deal. This is what agents do every day and this is what I’m particularly skilled in. If you understand what negotiating tactics REALTORS® may deploy — they depend on the local market and your position — you can back me up and cheer me on.

Here are five rules every buyer should know before they — and their REALTOR® — start negotiating:

#1 Act Fast — Like, Now
When you receive a counteroffer, you should ideally respond within 24 hours. The longer you wait, the more likely another buyer may swoop in and nab the property. If a seller senses hesitation, they may decide to withdraw their counteroffer before you even have a chance to respond.

#2 Raise Your Price (Within Reason)
While you obviously don’t want to overpay for a house, you may want to lean on my expertise to determine how much money you should add to the sales price to make it more enticing to the seller.

#3 Increase Your Earnest Money Deposit
Increasing your earnest money deposit (EMD) — the sum of money you put down to prove to the seller you’re serious (i.e., “earnest”) about buying the house — is another way to show the seller you have more skin in the game. A standard EMD is typically 1% to 3% of the sales price of the home. Making a counteroffer with a 3% to 4% deposit could be what you need to persuade the seller to side with you.

#4 Demonstrate Patience About Taking Possession
Depending on the seller’s timetable, changing your proposed possession date — the date you take over the property — could butter them up, too. If the seller wants to stay in the home for a few days after closing, try offering a later possession date. You could also draw up a “rent-back” agreement, meaning the seller pays you rent for staying in the home for a set period of time after the closing date.

#5 Know When to Walk
When negotiating with a seller, trust your gut — and your agent. If I say a deal is bad for you: you might want to listen. And if you don’t want to make any more trade-offs — and the seller won’t budge — it’s smart to walk. That can be a tough decision to make, and rightfully so! Negotiating is tough. It’s draining. And losing something you’ve worked hard to get can be disappointing. But don’t worry. There’s a better deal for you out there. And after those strong feelings of frustration pass, you’ll realize: Now I know how to do this.

My name is Sara Griffin with the Associates Realty Group and it’s my goal to not only help you buy or sell real estate, but to be your REALTOR® for life. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call me at 951-220-4491 or email me directly at sarapassion4sales@gmail.com.

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