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Buyers take advantage of cooling housing market

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Posted: Friday, June 6, 2014 7:45 am

Buyers are finally being able to take advantage of cooling trends in previously hot markets. Multiple offers are no longer being thrown at sellers as soon as the “For Sale” sign hits the front yard.

Competition has dwindled in our area, investors have almost disappeared and buyers have backed off a bit. This could be the pause that allows buyers to get into the market with a few perks. Here are 10 things buyers need to know to negotiate the best deal in a market shifting to their favor:

1. Human nature is the biggest problem for sellers and buyers to overcome in a changing market. Prices drop a few percentage points and its amazing how different buyers and sellers react. Smart buyers do their homework, know what size home they need, how much they can afford and then search the market for what they want and negotiate fairly.

2. When you make an offer, know the recent comparable sales; it’s the best bargaining tool. Be careful not to insult the seller of a home you are interested in, they may not want to deal with you if you do. Sellers know what the last comparable home sold for so don’t offer more than $10,000 or $15,000 less. You want them to at least look at your offer.

3. Find out as much as you can about the seller’s motivation. The seller’s motivation may help you negotiate a better deal.

4. There’s a big difference in negotiating with an owner who owes more than the house is worth and one who has a lot of built-up equity, so know what the seller’s condition is.

5. After 45 to 60 days the seller is usually sick of keeping their house spotless and sick of people walking through. This is when a seller may be the most anxious about selling their house as potential buyers have likely fallen sharply.

6. Unless you’re incredibly handy and have time and cash, go after houses that are as updated as you can afford.

7. In a tighter market, it’s not too much to ask the seller to pay a portion of your closing costs.

8. Items to ask for that shouldn’t offend sellers are paying for new kitchen appliances or washer and dryer. Some sellers will be willing to do so to close the deal.

9. Be reasonable when asking the seller to pay for repairs. If appraisal has financing conditions or if there are health and safety issues the seller should pay for those repairs.

10. Make sure to look at the big picture; don’t get caught up in a $2,000 price difference. Remember, the goal is to get the house you want to live in for several years.

Eileen Schamber is the president of the Lodi Association of Realtors and can be reached at