Sunday, December 9, 2007

Seller Credits

As you all know, December is a slow month for real estate. It is especially slow this year due to fall of the sub prime market and a general uncertainty about the future health of the economy. There are very few homes on the market this time of year. The new listing count each week is very disappointing, and even some listings that have been on the market are temporarily withdrawn until the new year when they come back on in hopes of finding a new audience.

Those who do put their homes on the market in December do so for only one reason. They need to sell! They know it is not the ideal time to market or sell their home, but sometime life's timing does not coincide with the ups and downs of the real estate market.

The pickings are slim, but if the right house for you should surface this time of year, your chance at negotiating a good deal are much higher now than they would be in the spring when you may have a handful of other buyers eyeing the same house.

There are many ways to negotiate as a buyer. The first point of negotiation is the purchase price. As we always say, the asking price is only a starting point. Take a close look at the comparables and the interest in the property. If it seems to be priced correctly and is in line with other solds in the neighborhood, you may want to offer the asking price. If the asking prices seems to be a bit inflated, definitely come in with a low bid. If it is a wonderful property in a popular neighborhood, you just may have to come in above asking as you read in Surprising Statistics.

Once you and the seller have come to an agreement on price and your offer has been accepted or "ratified", you will now have a contingency period in which you will have all of your inspections done to satisfy yourself as to the condition of the house. In the peak of the real estate market, people were waiving these inspections for fear of losing the house to the next bidder, but now that things have slowed down, people are able to make more rational decisions.

Once the inspections are completed, the second opportunity for negotiating has arrived. If the inspectors have found something in the house that concerns you or that will cost more money than you anticipated to fix, you can ask that the seller addresses the problem or leaves a credit in escrow. Again, a credit from the seller is something that you wouldn't dare to have asked for in years past, but we are starting to see it happen more and more.

Some clients of ours recently submitted an offer with a request for the seller to cover their closing costs. The seller agreed to pay closing costs equalling one half percent of the purchase price, which in their case would basically cover their costs. During the inspections, they also found that the old clay sewer would need to be replaced sometime in the next five years, and one of the retaining walls would also need to be replaced sometime in the near future. These were going to be unexpected costs, and the buyers were starting to be concerned with stretching beyond their financial limit. They asked for an additional credit of $16,000 to help them pay for the future repairs. The seller found their claims to be legitimate, and did not want to bring his home back on the market in the middle of December. He agreed to the additional credit, the buyers are happy, and they will be moving in to their new home first thing next year. Success!

In the end, they have a wonderful home in a very desirable neighborhood in San Francisco. There is only one other currently on the market, way above theirs in price. We believe they only got this deal because of the time of year.


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