What Should You Offer on the House? It Depends
You’ve spent months looking for a home. You walk in and you instantly know this is the one. How much should you offer to have the best chance of getting the house? Well that depends on many factors.
Disclaimer: This advice is based on today’s low inventory seller’s market. Don’t hold me to this if the market turns south 🙂
It just hit the market and it’s a hot listing – Offer full price (or maybe more). Put yourself in the position of the seller, if you just put your home on the market and had a ton of showings and get an offer on day one, would you come down on price? Chances are other offers will come in too so you know it’s going to sell at full price or above. Don’t insult the seller and come in low. You’ll be out of the running before it even starts.
Pro Tip: Sellers want to sell to excited buyers who love their house as much as they do. Show your excitement by offering full price when it’s a hot listing.
It just hit the market, but it’s priced high – What does priced high even mean anymore? It’s getting harder to tell. But if it’s not a super hot listing and you (and your agent) are fairly certain it won’t get multiple offers right away, offer less if the comps support it.
Pro Tip: Most sellers add some negotiation room (if needed) in the asking price. It’s unlikely to negotiate a huge price drop on a new listing, but you may be able to negotiate some reduction.
It’s been on the market for a month – Now you can negotiate. In high demand areas like Westlake Village, Oak Park, and Agoura Hills, if a home has been on the market for a month, sellers begin to panic (don’t laugh). They start to question their price and become worried about going stale. This can be a great time to make an offer that may have been considered insulting a month ago.
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that it greatly depends on the seller’s motivation. If they need to move rather than want to move – which is typically the case these days – they’ll be more flexible on price and terms.
There are already 2 offers on the house – That usually means it’s going to sell at or above full price. This is where you really need to rely on your agent’s ability to get some helpful intel from the listing agent to help guide you with your offer. Don’t waste your time offering less. This is the time to either step up or move on.
Pro Tip: There are many strategies you can use to help get your offer accepted. If you really want the house, don’t be afraid to get creative with your terms and offer above asking price. While money is not always the seller’s biggest incentive, it certainly doesn’t hurt your chances. Another 10k in the seller’s pocket today is often a bigger deal to the seller than adding 10k to your 30 year loan will be to you. (Read: How To Win When Competing Against Other Offers)
The seller just reduced the price, – In the seller’s mind, they just negotiated down. It’s unlikely they will consider much more of a drop right away. They’d rather give it a week or two and see how the market reacts to the new price.
Pro Tip: Have your agent check in with the listing agent. Often times the listing agent asked for a bigger price reduction, but the seller wasn’t ready to do it. The agent may be your ally in convincing the seller to come down even more.
The home is truly unique and I’ve never seen one anything like it – Homes are not cars. There aren’t thousands of others just like it. If you know the area and truly understand that it’s unique, then do what you have to do to get it. I’ve had buyers lose out on a unique house because they got too caught up in the negotiation only to regret it down the road.
Pro Tip: Remember, once you get acceptance you as the buyer hold all the cards. You have 17 days after acceptance to cancel and get all of your deposit back. Make the best offer you can to get it in escrow and If you change your mind in a week or two, no big deal.
If I don’t get this house I will be heartbroken – This is when emotion really kicks in and can cloud your judgement – be careful. When a buyer asks me how much they should offer, one of my first questions back is – How much do you want the house? Couple that with the other factors listed above and decide how aggressively you want to go about it. All things being equal, if you’re a strong buyer, I can almost guarantee to get you the house, however you may have to pay way above asking price, remove the appraisal contingency and have me do a bit of begging, but it can be done.
Pro Tip: I know it’s nearly impossible, but try to keep your emotions in check. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the fear of losing that you don’t think rationally and overlook potential issues. The biggest mistake home buyers make is getting too emotionally wrapped up in the house and overextend themselves and later realize they have little money for upgrades, renovations, and food. This is a good time to lean into your agent and other friends who can help you make a less emotional decision.
It’s a great house, but other similar homes will eventually come up – If it’s a house that either has some competition now, or will soon, then make a lower offer. Believe it or not, not every house sells in 5 minutes in the Conejo Valley. Not every neighborhood and price point is in high demand. In fact most homes sit on the market for a while before selling. By the time you make an offer, you should have a good sense of the market and know what’s likely to sell quickly. And if you don’t quite understand the market you’re in, you’re probably not ready to make an offer yet anyway.
Pro Tip: It may take the seller a few offers and a couple months to understand the market for their particular house. Be prepared to wait it out.
I want to offer low no matter what. I’m looking for a steal – You won’t find one here.
Pro Tip: Have a look in Riverside or Palmdale 🙂
There Are No Set Rules, Only Guidelines
Have I come across the seller who is overpriced, been on the market 3 months, and won’t come down on price? Unfortunately yes. Have I come across a new listing that I thought would sell in 5 minutes and it ends up sitting for a month? Absolutely.
Don’t believe any agent (or family member) who claims that they can accurately predict the market 100% of the time. Best we can do is point you in the right direction based on experience. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make the best decision for your particular situation.