Let's Make a Deal! 7 Things You Can Negotiate When Buying a Home—Beyond the Asking Price

Lauren Sieben

Whether you're buying your first home or your 11th, there's one thing we all think about when it comes time to negotiate the deal: wiggling that pesky price down as much as possible.

Of course, price is important when you’re buying a home. But it’s not the only negotiable part of the sale—there are plenty of other ways to haggle aside from list price.

“In most parts of the country, sellers often have multiple bids right now,” says Danielle Samalin, CEO of Framework Homeownership. “In this market, trying to negotiate a sales price probably won't get you far.”

But even in a seller’s market, there are myriad opportunities to negotiate, from requesting home repairs to offering a speedy closing.

So, what all can you negotiate? We talked with the experts to learn about some of the items worth haggling on when purchasing your next home.

1. Repairs

In a competitive market, buyers might be tempted to forgo a home inspection to speed up the process and appeal to sellers. But that’s a risky idea—you don’t want to be blindsided by unexpected repairs once you move in.

Better to move forward with the home inspection, and then use the findings as a potential bargaining chip.

“Make sure to attend and review the findings of the home inspection,” says Scott Lindner, national sales director at TD Bank. “It's always a good idea to understand any large investments that would need to be made in the home. ... This can also be a good negotiating tool if there are things that need to be repaired or replaced in the near term.”

If your inspection reveals any issues, you can ask the sellers to make repairs as a condition of the sale. Just remember: It’s not a given that the sellers will be willing to budge.

“First-time home buyers at times assume they can offer over asking and then recoup on the home inspection, asking for additional credit or money off,” says Christopher Arienti, broker/owner of Re/Max Executive Realty in Franklin, MA. “This is not necessarily the case.”

2. Time to close

If your schedule is flexible, you can make your offer more attractive to sellers.

“Pay close attention to the needs of the seller in regard to timelines,” Arienti says. “Most homeowners have an idea of when they need or would like to close. Giving a little here can get you a lot on the other end.”

Remember that in most cases, both you and the sellers are dealing with a move, which is a stressful situation for everyone involved. Making the process more convenient for the seller can bolster your offer.

“One example would be closing earlier and offering the seller a short rent back to allow them an easier move into their next home,” Dibble says.

3. Closing costs

Closing costs—those sneaky fees that usually cost between 2% and 7% of the home's purchase price—can be a major burden for buyers, especially after forking over a hefty sum for a down payment.

Instead of playing hardball on the list price of the home, consider asking the seller for help covering closing costs.

“Sellers care about net proceeds, not just purchase price,” Dibble says. Asking the seller for a credit toward closing costs "reduces cash needed to close the transaction, which benefits the seller by increasing the likelihood you close the transaction.”

You can also offer to offset the seller’s credit toward closing by offering a higher price on the home.

4. Decor

If your dream house is already decked out to your liking, it’s totally fair to negotiate on decor, furniture, light fixtures, appliances, or other pieces you love.

“You can ask the seller to leave appliances or furniture that you would otherwise have to buy,” Samalin says.

There’s just one caveat: “This can sometimes complicate your loan, and sometimes it is staged furniture—not the seller's—to sell,” Dibble adds.

5. Home cleaning

A new-to-you home isn’t necessarily a clean home. One way to conquer the yuck factor: Ask the sellers to pay for a deep clean before you move in.

“No matter how tidy a home is kept, there are always nooks and crannies that get overlooked because of furniture and appliances in the home,” Dibble says.

6. Home warranty

A home warranty can provide peace of mind to home buyers. It covers the cost to repair or replace major appliances if they break down in your new home, and it can also cover fixes to HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems.

“In some cases, it makes sense to negotiate for the seller to cover a home warranty as part of the buying process,” Dibble says.

When the seller pays for the warranty, it can be a win-win for both parties by providing warranty coverage for the seller while the home is listed for sale.

7. Your own fees and expenses

Buying in a seller’s market is tricky. When sellers have multiple bids, buyers are in a weaker position to negotiate, Samalin says.

But you can still advocate for yourself by finding the best deal possible on your mortgage and other expenses. Start by reaching out to multiple mortgage lenders to compare your options and get the best interest rate. Then ask about other fees that might be negotiable.

“There is no harm in trying to negotiate the lender fees and expenses,” Samalin says. “Title insurance, for example, can be costly, so ask your lender about getting multiple quotes.”

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