Once you're serious about buying, deciding how much to offer on a house becomes one of the most pressing concerns. It’s hard to find the balance between trying to get a fair deal, writing an offer below asking, and actually getting the house.
Luckily though, we’re here to help you sort this issue out. We’ll explain when a low-ball offer is appropriate, how to determine the right sale price, plus a few alternative ways to save.
With our help, you’ll be able to write an offer that you truly feel good about submitting.
Can you submit an offer below asking?
Technically, yes. You can always submit an offer below asking. Real estate is a negotiation, so you’re free to submit an offer for however much you feel the home is worth. However, it’s also important to think about is whether or not submitting a low-ball offer will get you the result that you want.
When mulling over price, take a second to think about how you'll feel if you don’t get the house.
Sellers aren’t required to negotiate every offer. If a seller thinks that your price is too low, they have the option to pass on your offer and wait for something better.
Will you be upset if that happens? If so, it may be worth it to draw up an offer closer to the list price in order to make yourself seem like a serious contender. If not, feel free to try and get a deal. Just know that you’re taking a bit of a risk.
Important pricing factors to consider
If you do decide to submit an offer below the asking price, the next step is to figure out how low you want to go. For that, there are a couple different factors to consider:
You’ve probably heard the terms “buyer's market” and “seller's market” thrown around before. Which one you’re in at the moment will play a sizable role in how much bargaining room you have to work with.
In a seller’s market, inventory is usually low. This means that buyers often find themselves vying over the same properties, and multiple offer situations are common. In this case, it doesn’t really make sense for buyers to try and submit a low-ball offer because the seller will likely be able to pass them over for a higher-priced options.
In buyer’s markets, on the other hand, inventory is plentiful. Houses tend to sit on the market for longer. Here, seller’s tend to be more open to negotiating on sale price in order to secure a sale.
Fair market value
Figuring out the home’s fair market value can also help you determine how much to offer. Every home’s list price is subjective. It’s set by the seller and his or her agent. So, even though it will ideally be fair, that’s not always the case.
Sometimes the seller will inflate the list price in order to try and get as much money as possible out of their asset. To figure out the true fair market value of a property, ask the buying team you’re working with to provide you with a comparative market analysis. This document compiles similar properties that have sold recently, as well as their final purchase prices.
You can compare and contrast your property to those listed and - based of factors like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, available upgrades, and overall condition - determine a price point that makes sense for your offer.
Other strategies to save
If, based on the information above, it doesn’t look like you have much room to play with the sale price, don’t lose hope just yet. Remember, offers are all about negotiation and give-and-take. You’ll likely have more wiggle room in other areas of the contract.
A contingency refers to anything that needs to occur for the transaction to move forward. Most often, these are things like any inspections that the buyer elects to perform or the buyer’s ability to successfully obtain a mortgage.
If you’re offering a high sale price, feel free to elect to do these inspections. Although you’ll have to pay for them upfront, they’re a worthwhile investment. They will give you a thorough picture of the current condition of your home. That way, you’ll go into the sale knowing what to expect. If the home’s issues are too extensive for you to handle, you’ll have the option to walk away from the deal while still keeping your deposit safe.
Credits and repairs
On the other hand, if you’ve done your inspections and are still willing to continue with the sale, you get another chance to negotiate with the seller. Here, you can ask them to make any necessary repairs to the home before closing, or you can ask them to credit you money for making the repairs after closing.
Conventional wisdom states that you should ask for repairs for any major issues like structural problems, roof leaks or HV/AC problems, for example. Issues like these can be costly and will usually need to be repaired regardless if the home is sold to you or someone else, so let the seller deal with the hassle.
Smaller-ticket items or cosmetic issues, on the other hand, are best dealt with via credit. It’s easier for the seller and gives you the freedom to handle the fix in a way that works for you.