It might be a seller’s market but that doesn’t mean buyers don’t have leverage. Here are a dozen things home buyers can negotiate for when buying a new house beyond the cost of the home itself.
Beyond Price: 12 Things You Can Negotiate When Buying a House
1. Anything listed on the inspection report.
Even if an item is a “nice to have” and not a “must have,” the fact that a professional building inspector listed it as a line item on the home inspection makes it an item home buyers can request even after their offer has been signed around.
2. Window coverings.
It’s common for home buyers to list “window coverings” as something to be included with the home in the sale, especially if the home has custom-fitted blinds, shades or window treatments you would like to keep. Chances are the sellers won’t be able to use these again in their new home anyway.
Sellers will have already listed appliances that “stay.” These items generally include stoves, cooktops and ovens, but may not necessarily include refrigerators, washers, dryers, water softeners, special filters, generators, and other appliances. In a competitive market you may not be able to negotiate very much on price, but you may be able to get sellers to include some of these appliances which will lessen the amount you’ll have to pay to replace them.
4. Property-specific tools and equipment.
If you’re buying a home with a big yard, extensive plantings, trees, etc., you might ask whether the seller would include items like riding lawn mower, lawn mower attachments (rakes, leaf sweepers and so on), hedge trimmers, orchard ladders or other items that would be useful in helping you care for the property. The sellers may be planning to sell or gift these items away anyway, especially if they’re moving to a property where they will no longer be needed.
5. Professional cleaning.
Having the house professionally cleaned after the sellers move out isn’t something you might think about when you negotiate the purchase of your home. However, having a professionally cleaned house to move in to can give you peace of mind and eliminate the need for you to spend time and energy cleaning it yourself. It could make moving day a much faster and more pleasant experience. Likewise, you might ask that carpets be professionally cleaned before taking possession.
Whether you love the colors of your new home or plan to change them, you can request that sellers have the home’s exterior or interior repainted subsequent to their moving out and before you move in. As with professional house and carpet cleaning, this can make your move in process much faster and ensure you’re not dealing with someone else’s scuffed, nicked or nail-holed walls when you start making the house your own.
7. Art or accessories.
Do the sellers have a statement piece of art or architecture that you would love to have? There’s no reason you can’t list furnishings, art, accessories and other items to be potentially included in the sale of the home. The sellers may be planning to garage sale a number of their possessions prior to moving in order to redecorate when they move into their new home anyway, so there is no harm in asking! They will probably even take it as a compliment to their taste or sense of style.
Additionally, if a seller says no to an item like this they may feel badly for doing so, making it more likely they will say yes to some of the other concessions you are asking for. It’s a common negotiating tactic to ask for more than you are willing to settle for, so that there are points where each party can give and take and both come out feeling like they won something they truly wanted.
8. Duct cleaning and HVAC servicing.
It’s very common for home buyers to request that sellers have the HVAC (Heating / Ventilation / Air Conditioning) equipment serviced and checked and that ducts are cleaned out. If the property has a septic system you should request that the septic be inspected and pumped prior to closing as well. This way you’ll know that the home’s most important equipment is in good working order when you move in.
9. Flooring allowance.
If some or most of the home’s flooring needs repair or replacement you can ask for an allowance toward this from the sellers. This way you’ll be able to choose the flooring or finish that you want. The sellers may also be open to having flooring refinished or replaced prior to closing so that you can move in with that already done after taking possession.
10. Closing date.
If you are flexible on a closing date this might cause sellers to favor your offer over those of others, especially if the sellers need a quick closing or would like to stay in the home longer than needed for the closing process. Likewise, if you have a time table that strays from the norm you can request that the closing date be moved up or back depending on your needs.
Home buyers can negotiate for sellers to contribute money toward “points” that lower the buyer’s interest rate, and thus effectively lower the price they will ultimately pay for the home. Since this also lowers their minimum monthly payments, it can be very helpful for buyers who want to buy the best or biggest home they can (and are at their max budget). In addition to lower costs, points (even seller-paid points) may be tax deductible; consult your tax adviser to find out whether this applies to you.
12. Closing costs.
Both sellers and home buyers pay closing costs. It’s common for buyers (who are often also coming up with large cash down payments) to ask sellers to pay a portion of their closing costs. Buyers may also be able to roll some of their closing costs into their home loan. If you’re buying a new house, home builders and their preferred lenders often contribute directly toward buyer closing costs which can significantly reduce or even eliminate them.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage loan is the first step to finding out how much room you do have to negotiate a home price when buying a home. We can walk you through the process so that you can do your house hunting more confidently and use your purchasing power to get the home you really want. Call us at 206-793-4863 or contact us online to get the process started.