Negotiation Tips for Homebuyers

Negotiation – What is it?

Negotiation when buying a home is important throughout the home buying process. What do you need to consider in an offer? What is most important to you and to the seller? Then, after you have agreement in a contract, there may be opportunities to negotiate, especially if situations arise with inspection or appraisal. A buyer’s agent should be able to assist you to present the strongest offer and guide you through negotiations to closing on your new home.

Negotiation items

In today’s competitive seller’s market, it’s important for homebuyers to understand items that are part of the negotiation. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned veteran, this part of the transaction can be a little daunting and stressful. However, it is necessary to consider what items are typically negotiable. You want to ensure you are getting the best possible deal for your money. Also, you should know which items are most important to you.

In our current strong seller’s market, it is important for you to present a strong offer up front. Many sellers in today’s market are not considering counter offers. These sellers are accepting the highest and best offer out of multiple offers they receive. So, what can be on the negotiation table when buying a home?

The price.

Usually the first thing homebuyers think about is negotiating the price. Typically your real estate agent will advise you on comparable sales. This information will guide you to determine a strong offer price. Keep in mind that a seller is concerned about their bottom line. The seller wants to see how much they will net. Also, a seller considers the risk of the offer. For example, a cash offer with no closing costs, no inspection, no warranty, and a quick close may be the most attractive to the seller. The seller may reject a higher price offer that includes requests for closing costs, warranty, and is subject to inspection or financing. However, a prospective buyer and seller can negotiate the price and terms.

Closing costs.

A variety of factors determine closing costs. Closing costs are the costs of the transaction. Closing costs are in addition to any down payment you plan to make on a loan. You can expect closing costs to be between 2% to 5% of the purchase price. You can request the seller to cover some or all of the closing costs as a closing credit. In a competitive seller’s market, keep in mind that the seller of a desirable home may receive multiple offers. Some of the offers may request little or no closing costs. However, a seller may counter offer a request for closing costs. A counter offer for closing costs is typical in a more balanced market or in the event the seller does not happen to receive multiple strong offers.

Furnishings and personal property.

Do you love how the seller has furnished and decorated the home? Buyers may negotiate keeping couches, landscaping decor, patio furniture, appliances, and more. Typically, the listing descriptions will mention the availability of these items. If you feel you really must have furnishings or decor, be sure to discuss this with your buyer’s agent. You may want to request personal property in your initial offer. But you should be cautious about what you add to the offer in our current market. Depending on the item(s), you may be able to negotiate a personal transaction between you the buyer and the seller.

Closing timeline.

Buyer offers that include a quick inspection and close timeline are often more attractive to sellers. But this is not always the case. In our seller’s market, some home sellers may prefer flexibility. This includes allowances in the closing and possession timelines so the seller can find their next home or relocate. So be sure to discuss your wants, needs and flexibilities with your real estate agent. If you are offering a quick close, be sure to ensure you allow yourself ample time. You will need sufficient time to get your financing in place and complete proper and thorough inspections.

Home warranty.

Sellers will often agree to pay the premium on the home warranty for the new homeowner. Many sellers will agree to the expense of a home warranty to ensure the buyer is comfortable with buying a preowned home. Keep in mind that you as a buyer can also purchase the home warranty for yourself. So in our competitive seller’s market, consider the benefit of having the seller pay for the warranty or for you to purchase it on your own.

Inspection and repairs.

Homebuyers should have an inspection. The buyer should pay for the inspection. The inspector works for you–the buyer’s– interest and protection. In our current market, cash buyers may be waiving the home inspection or are just inspecting for major problems. You can have a home inspection for information. In this case you do not intend to request repairs for minor issues. However, an inspection may uncover repairs needed to bring the home up to standard. You can negotiate to have these items fixed before closing or ask for a price reduction or seller credit to cover the costs. Also, in some cases, your lender may require repair of certain items before closing, particularly health and safety items.


Common negotiable items include price, closing costs, timing, personal property, inspection items and warranty. Your buyer’s agent can help you sort through the negotiation process from offer to contract to closing.