Things You Can and Can’t Negotiate When Buying a Home

Thursday Dec 21st, 2023


Things You Can and Can’t Negotiate When Buying a Home

You probably already know you can negotiate the price of a home when making an offer to purchase, but there are many other things that can save you time or money before you take possession. However, there are also a number of things you should never ask a seller for. Here are four things you might want to negotiate for, and a few you should never bring up.

Know what you can and cannot negotiate for appliances and non-permanent items

Appliances or other non-permanent items in the house 

Sometimes, sellers will itemize furnishings and personal property they plan to take with them, excluding them from the sale. But often, if you fall in love with something in the house, you can try to negotiate that into the agreement, says Chad Wozniak, a REALTOR® , salesperson and Master Certified Negotiation Expert (MCNE) with Chamberlain Property Group in Penticton, British Columbia. The MCNE designation is given to REALTORS® who have taken additional training. 

“The typical things people put in contracts would be appliances, window coverings, a hot tub, pool equipment or patio sets,” says Wozniak. “Buyers can also ask for things like the pool table, freezers, and believe it or not, livestock if it’s a rural property. Sometimes, sellers let us know that things are available.”

You might want to skip asking the seller to throw in the antique dining room chandelier or other one-of-a-kind items, though. Chances are the owners are taking most valuables and sentimental items with them when they move.

Learn about negotiating on closing dates and leasebacks

Closing dates and leasebacks 

It’s very common for buyers to negotiate an occupancy date that works for them, regardless of what the home listing says. 

“Some want a long possession time, others a short possession time or the sellers rent back the property from the buyers temporarily,” he explains.

However, if the sellers need a super quick sale because they’re leaving the country, don’t ask for a move-in date six months from now, or you might talk yourself right out of the deal.

Find out what you can negotiate regarding cleaning up and clearing out

Cleaning up and clearing out 

If you notice there’s a pile of scrap metal in the backyard, or that the basement is crammed with junk, you might want to include a note in your offer that you expect the property to be cleared out before you take possession.  

“With cleanup, there could be a hold back on the contract to ensure the home is cleaned to a certain standard and then that’s paid out at the end of the deal once it’s certified everything’s done properly,” explains Wozniak.

And while it would be great if the sellers left you a sparkling clean house when they leave, you can’t really ask them to do that.

Discover negotiation options for mirror repairs

Minor repairs

Asking for certain cosmetic fixes such as touching up ceiling paint after water damage was repaired or getting the sellers to replace a non-functional doorbell before you get the keys is often acceptable. So is anything that concerns the safety of the property or issues a home inspector might find.

“If it’s a latent defect—something you don’t see that the inspection reveals—like a crack in the foundation, something wrong with the gas in the mechanical room, a leaking appliance, a cracked heat exchanger, or a missing hand railing on the set of stairs, you can ask for those to be repaired because that’s a safety issue,” says Wozniak. 

You can also ask for a discount on the price if you discover the roof is in poor shape. But don’t bother asking the sellers for a complete kitchen renovation or to gut a bathroom—that won’t happen.

Rely on your REALTOR® to handle price and contract negotiations on your behalf

Tap into the experience of your REALTOR®

No matter what you want to negotiate for, run it by your REALTOR® first, suggests Wozniak. Your REALTOR® can help negotiate the price and contract terms on your behalf. They are your No. 1 resource and support during the home buying process.

“We can identify issues or sticking points, or the temperament of a seller and what they might be expecting, and we can preemptively negotiate and prepare an offer with the seller in mind to effect an enforceable contract,” he explains.

Everyone’s home buying experience will be different, and your negotiations will be dependent on your personal situation. But, with an expert REALTOR® in your corner, you can trust you’ll be in good hands no matter what. 

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