Can't afford today's inflated home prices? You still have options.
Historically low mortgage rates are driving buyer demand for homes. As such, it's very much a seller's market. Low housing inventory has allowed sellers to charge a premium for their homes, and buyers are biting left and right.
If you really want to buy a home but the listing prices in your target neighborhood are daunting, don't worry -- you may have more negotiating power than you think. Here are a few things you can do to get a seller to lower a home's price.
1. Pay cash
Many people can't afford to buy a home outright -- that's what mortgages are for. But if you happen to be in a situation where you can pay for a home in cash, doing so could get a buyer to agree to a discount.
The problem with mortgages is that they have the potential to fall through, leaving sellers in the lurch. What's more, mortgages can take weeks to close on, and some sellers may want to get their homes off the market more quickly. For example, if you have a seller who needs to relocate in a few weeks for a job, he or she may be willing to accept a lower offer if it means finalizing that sale without delay.
2. Get upfront underwriting on a mortgage
Underwriting is a standard part of finalizing a mortgage, and it's basically the process of verifying your financial information to ensure you're a qualified loan candidate. But underwriting can take time, which can delay a closing.
If you want to get a seller to agree to a lower sale price on a home, find a lender that offers upfront underwriting. With upfront underwriting, an underwriter reviews your financial information when you first apply for your loan, as opposed to midway through the process. Having this step done early makes it more likely that your closing will move quickly, and that's definitely a draw for sellers. (Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will achieve a similar goal, but upfront underwriting is a more involved process that takes that benefit one step further.)
3. Threaten to walk away
Though homes today are high in demand, you never know when a specific seller may be struggling to find a buyer. If you see a home that's been sitting on the market for quite some time, the seller may be growing increasingly desperate. If you made a lower offer that was rejected, threaten to walk away. The seller may agree to come down on price to keep you from moving on.
If you're hoping to pay a rock-bottom price for a home, today's market isn't ideal. But that doesn't mean you can't shave some money off the cost of a home you buy. Even if you're only able to talk a seller down from, say, $299,000 to $295,000, that's still $4,000 less you have to pay. Don't hesitate to negotiate a sale price that works better for you, because while sellers today do have an advantage, they still need buyers to take their homes off their hands.
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