How Much Can You Negotiate on a House, Really?

negotiating on a house

So, you’ve finally found the perfect home and you’ve submitted your offer. In an ideal situation, the seller would accept it, you’d close, and the home would be yours. However, it’s not always that easy. In fact, it’s likely the seller will submit a counter offer. This is when negotiations begin.

Even if you have a well-versed real estate agent by your side, the thought of negotiating can be daunting. It can be tricky to know how low or high of a price to counter back with, or what other points you should negotiate on. However, when armed with the right information and a great real estate agent, you can successfully negotiate the best deal. So, how much can you negotiate on a house? Don’t worry, we’ve broken down everything you need to know below.

How much you can negotiate on a house depends on one main factor, which drives everything else: the state of your local real estate market.

Conditions in your local housing market will determine whether your offer leads to a timely and successful transaction where you end up with a new house, or whether you need to start searching for another property. An experienced real estate agent should have a deep understanding of local market dynamics and be a master negotiator, that’s what real estate agents do every day. Hiring an agent to help you find a house and negotiate its purchase is well worth the cost, especially in a competitive market.

How much can you negotiate on a house in a buyer’s market?

In a buyer’s market, there are more homes listed for sale than there are homebuyers. Naturally, this gives buyers the upper-hand since there’s plenty of inventory and sellers are usually eager to get their home sold. With a market that’s ripe for concessions from the seller, they may even consider offers as low as 10% under asking price. You can also try negotiating that the seller pays the closing costs, the closing date you want, and other contingencies. Although a little back and forth is fine and sellers are likely to be eager, it’s still wise to avoid lowball offers. You could end up insulting the seller which could cause them to decline your offer altogether.

How much can you negotiate on a house in a seller’s market?

If your local market is a seller’s market – where there are more homebuyers than available housing inventory – you won’t have as much negotiating power. Any unreasonable or complicated offer that’s full of contingencies can result in a quick rejection from the seller. With plenty of homebuyers clamoring to purchase their home, you need to make your offer easy to understand and limit your requests when it comes to negotiating.

Of course, standard contingencies related to a home inspection, appraisal, and financing are acceptable. But be aware that you might be competing with buyers who won’t ask for them, and those buyers can act quickly. In this type of market, you need to be decisive, ask for just the essentials, and be wary when negotiating. Your real estate agent will advise you on the best route to take and how much you should negotiate on the house, if at all.

How much can you negotiate on a house in a balanced market?

In a balanced market, there are similar numbers of sellers and buyers to balance out supply and demand. Don’t assume, however, that a balanced market is easy to negotiate. Home sellers take their time working through offers and often the process involves several rounds of negotiations. The problem with this market is the lack of urgency.

When neither party has an urgent need to buy or sell, there is no reason to quickly push to finalize a transaction. As a buyer, it’s still wise to start with an offer lower than asking price. You can also include your contingencies as other buyers will be doing the same. This is a compliant market, and many negotiations result in a contract that’s split right down the middle between the buyer and the seller. But, if you are ready to buy, don’t drag your feet for too long. There could be other buyers ready that may make a clean offer with fewer contingencies and win the deal.

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