There are only 49 days until Christmas. It may sound sound like a long time, but for those trying to move house, it is not nearly enough: those having luck with marketing their homes will find themselves already in the thick of negotiating with buyers over the final sum to be paid for their property.
According to new research by Which? Mortgage Adviser, haggling for a home is more common than sellers might like: in the past five years, 66 per cent were successful in buying a home for less than the advertised asking price. Buyers were particularly successful at haggling in Wales, Birmingham and Manchester. But sellers should be wary whatever town – or, indeed, country – they are in.
To help secure the best possible price for your property, here are six tips to successfully negotiate with buyers.
1. Be fair with your pricing
The most important step of all is to make sure that you have fairly priced your home to begin with: without a fair starting point, you will not have a leg to stand on when the negotiating begins. Get your home valued by several estate agents, check your local market, bear in mind wider financial conditions and whether you will need to accept a loss in order to shift your home. With luck, you may be able to price your home at an attracting enough price point that a buyer will stump up the sum without questioning it.
The chances are, though, that you will not be this fortunate: Which? Mortgage Adviser’s survey found that 73 per cent of buyers have made an offer below the asking price of a home in the past five years. The best response? Make a counter-offer. After all, buyers will most likely start with a price that is less than what they are actually willing to pay.
Rather than counter with your own discounted figure, why not counter at your list price? It will reinforce your property’s value and make it clear that you are not to be trifled with. If someone walks away, they probably were more interested in nabbing a bargain than buying your home – sparing you time and effort trading offers with an incompatible or non-serious buyer.
Alternatively, counter only a small margin below your asking price, maintaining your stand as strongly as possible, while still appearing reasonable.
3. Don’t counter
Why counter at all? Just reject their offer outright and leave the onus with them to submit a new offer – a technique that is more aggressive than counter-offering, but can also be more effective at getting the best price for your property.
4. Hold off offers until a set date
If you allow offers immediately, you could find yourself with several irrelevant offers to bat away – or none at all. Why not try refusing all offers until a specified date? That not only builds a sense of event surrounding your property listing, but also creates a sense of demand, which could spark a profitable bidding war: 25 per cent of Which? Mortgage Advisor’s report said that paying the asking price or more was due to competition for their home, while 21 per cent said it was due to a bidding war.
5. Giver buyers a deadline
Not unlike the previous option, a fixed date can work wonders for your negotiating technique. Giving buyers deadlines with each of your counter-offers will force them to make a decision quickly, leaving you in control of the back-and-forth. At the same time, it also stops your home from being on the market for longer than necessary – something that can make your property seem undesirable to buyers further down the line. In six months’ time, if your home hasn’t sold, you will have to factor that into your selling price and, most likely, lower it.
6. Make sure your home is in prime condition
If pricing your property correctly is the key to fetching the best sum for it, the second most important thing is to keep your home in prime condition: nobody will want to part with their cash for a property that looks like it’s worth half its price.
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