It’s tricky

| Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 | 3 Comments »

It goes something like this: buyer walks into a home and is mortified by the ugly wallpaper throughout the house and the green carpet. The kids’ bedrooms have hideous borders and all the furniture is clearly from the 80’s. The fountain in the backyard is gaudy and the hot tub is disgusting. Buyer wants to offer $20,000 based on all of the above. What do you do?

Well, let’s take a step back. The sellers took months to pick out that wallpaper in 1984 and took crucial care in making sure the green carpeting matched perfectly. Their kids’ borders were the talk of the neighborhood in 1991 and they paid top dollar for all their furniture from Levitz. The fountain was imported from Australia and the hot tub was bought at the Puyallup fair and did wonders for the seller’s arthritis. Now what do you do?

As an agent, you have to be very careful not to offend a seller when a buyer wants to offer less based on the condition or the contents of the home. Unless the listing report clearly states some obvious defaults such as “$10,000 credit for new roof” or “$5000 carpet allowance,” a seller may likely be offended if you point out some qualities your buyer doesn’t care for and then proceed to tell them you are going to give them less money.

Here are some tips I find helpful in these situations. First of all, it’s a much more effective tactic to justify a lower-than-asking offer price based on other criteria such as comparable sales in the area. This is probably what the seller and listing agent used to determine a price in the first place. Now if there are some qualities that are lacking making this house obviously less valuable than the comparable sales, I have no problem pointing that out. For example, if a comparable sale has more square footage, a bigger lot, more bedrooms or has been updated, then you are simply stating the facts and not offending anyone. Also, sometimes to soften the blow of a lower offer, it may be a good idea to give something back to the seller such as a quick closing. Or if the buyers are really comfortable with their financing, they could even waive their financing addendum making their offer look stronger than someone who insists on having one. Increasing the down payment (if possible) is another way to strengthen an offer.

Obviously there are going to be times when a home is overpriced and the seller knows it and expects a lower offer. But for those times when it’s simply a matter of orange Formica counter tops, popcorn ceiling and shag carpeting, be careful how you approach the sellers. You don’t want to offend them and risk losing the deal.

If you are a buyer who is looking for a savvy agent who can get you the home of your dreams for the price you want, give me a call. Or if you are a buyer who is looking for a home with shag carpeting and wallpaper, I can find you one of those too.

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  1. Lisa Kyles says:

    “I think it’s very vital”.. to have an agent like you 🙂

  2. Janice says:

    Oh, me, me! I want a house with shag carpeting and wallpaper. The busier the print the better! Let me know when one comes up, OK?

  3. Sheila says:

    oh, this made me laugh…I remember that I used to have a “shag rake” to rake the dark blue shag carpet in my bedroom when I was a kid.

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