Negotiation tips for those buying a new home
Once people find the home they’ve been looking for, negotiating the deal can be hard. I’ve been buying and selling homes for nearly 30 years and I am still learning but here are my top tips for anyone thinking of negotiating for the home of their dreams.
Leave something on the table for the next guy
It’s often tempting to try and squeeze the deal till the pips squeak and whilst many may see it a matter of pride to have negotiated down to the light fittings, most successful deals work because both sides can view the deal as being worthwhile for them. Leave the other party with some pride and dignity and you will then have their help when you need to ring to ask where the stop cock is!
Keep it simple
It’s tempting to try and include the dishwasher, the mower and the cat basket but by and large you can negotiate for the smaller items once you have agreed terms for the biggest. In reality, most sellers will find that they don’t need some items or that its a good time to upgrade the washing machine, but I’ve witnessed people taking light fittings – leaving bare wires just because they felt they’d been ‘legged-over’ on the deal.
Keep it legal
Remember that any offer you make should be made ‘subject to contract’ and if you intend to have one ‘subject to survey’ as well. By ensuring that you include these three words you are then free to vary these terms should the need arise. The deal is only legal and enforcable once contracts are exchanged (in England & Wales).
Like the boy scouts it can pay to have done your homework before you start to negotiate. Makes sure you solicitor isn’t on holiday and is happy to act for you. Try to get a mortgage offer in principle so that you can prove how you will fund the purchase. Speak to a surveyor if you might want a structural survey. If you can confirm all these are in place your slightly lower offer may well trump a higher more carelessly crafted bid as happened to me just this past week.
Keep your promises
Remember that if you promise to do something it’s important to keep to it. If your bid unravels and you find another house then the estate agents may remember that you are not the most reliable buyer. Your reputation matters so guard it.
Having made sure that you have everything in place remember that you will most likely be negotiating with an agent for the seller or landlord. He is a professional and will prefer you to be too. Don’t be hysterical about how much you love the place, make it clear why accepting your bid seems like the best way he can earn his commission.
Confirm what you say in writing (or by email these days) so there is a paper trail if and when a misunderstanding occurs. It may also be useful if you ever needed to show a copy of what was said to the seller, to the Property Ombudsman or to a lawyer if things went seriously wrong!
Negotiate on the guide price
I regard a guide price as an indication of the sellers’ enthusiasm and it can be flexible. Don’t be afraid to make an offer but when you do back it up with examples of what else has sold, what else is still for sale and ensure you stress why even though it may seem low, your offer is worth taking.
Not to the selling/letting agent (says the buying agent!) but to the seller. I have often bought homes for clients whom the seller felt would continue their love of the house. Living in it in the same way, getting stuck into the local community and the schools. Ask if there are local clubs they can recommend. Don’t spend time discussing how you plan to pull apart the home that has taken years to build up. Wait until you own it before you rip out the botched repairs/extension!
Henry Pryor is a buying agent. He is a regular commentator on the BBC and in a number of national newspapers.
Follow Henry Pryor on Twitter – @HenryPryor