The art of negotiation really isn’t as scary or complicated as it first seems. Believe me, I am someone who has never haggled for anything in my life, and my experience with this process of the real estate transaction was actually quite pleasant and rewarding. It helped that I had a highly experienced real estate agent in my corner, but much of it was left up to me. No real estate agent can tell you what you want – they’re there to make sure that you don’t act against your own best interest by doing something like agreeing to waive the home inspection contingency to close a sale sooner. (While there may be some cases in which this is fine – the seller has provided a pre-inspection report from a licensed home inspector, for instance – it is generally not the best idea.) That is why you need someone there who knows the real estate industry and wants to help you negotiate effectively and successfully.
Much of the negotiation process for me did not revolve around the listing price. Compared to what I had seen, what my agent had shown me, and comparable properties that were on the market or recently sold, the seller was asking for a very fair price that was below what I had expected to pay and was well within my budget. Instead, I focused on other aspects of the real estate transaction that were more important to me.
- I wanted the closing date to be sooner. I had already spent over a year and a half working on my business plan, and I will admit that I was more than a little eager to get it off the ground. To expedite things, I had already gotten full approval for a mortgage before putting in my offer.
- I wanted the property gutted before I moved in. The property I bought used to be a tailor shop. The seller had anticipated that they would find a buyer who wanted to set up a similar or related business, so they were selling the property with the dressing rooms, mirrors, clothing racks, and all. When I expressed that I would not be needing any of those things, and that it would be more inconvenient for me to have to dispose of them myself, the seller gladly agreed to take those items off my hands. He was able to resell them to someone else he knew who had a tailoring business as well. This worked out perfectly for both of us.
- The one thing that the seller wanted to take with him, turned out to be the one thing I would have loved to keep – a cute vintage cash register. When he refused to include that in the purchase, I offered to pay additional for it. (That’s how much I adored it.) Unfortunately, that was the register his great grandfather used when he first opened the tailor shop many years ago, and it has been carefully maintained and kept in use by each generation after, so it had great sentimental value.
Always remember that there is more to negotiate than just the price in a real estate transaction. Ask your real estate agent for advice if you are unsure what is off limits. Hello Bentonville!