As the hot summer temperatures slowly wind down, so does the real estate market and industry.  Multiple offers are dwindling while the numbers of unsold homes for sale may be increasing competition for sellers.  This is not abnormal in the fall or as the winter season approaches.  Investment buyers, as well as home buyers, may retreat to the sidelines awaiting the return of warmer weather.  Yet, those still active in the market will likely include folks whose homes have now just closed or those relocating here with immediate need to house their families.  This can be a particularly good time of the year for a house hunter to find their ideal home and negotiate their way to a great deal.

However, before jumping into the negotiating process in a shifting market, buyers should be aware of a few key elements that can directly influence the effect of their efforts.  At this time of year buyers and sellers may view the changing market in opposite perspectives.  Sellers still think their homes are “special” and immune to the decline of the market, while buyers may think that sellers should be giving their homes away.  Neither one is correct.  Yes, the market may be changing, but it is not coming to a complete halt. Still, the ball may be more in the buyer’s court in terms of it being a negotiating season. 

To negotiate the best deal, a buyer must do some homework.  Buyers should examine the area in which they are looking for a home, the size of the home and the condition of the home amongst other variables.  Likewise, sellers should seriously consider any and all offers that are presented.  Savvy buyers equipped with comparables of recent home sales in the area will likely want to aggressively negotiate a fair, but low purchase price.  They may look to buy slightly under the price of the last comparable home sold.  Their intent, while not to offend the seller, may reflect the shifting and seasonal nature of the market. 

For a buyer to be able to negotiate the best deal, they should try to ascertain the seller’s motivation.  If a seller must sell due to, for example, divorce or job relocation, they will likely be highly motivated to negotiate a deal.  Alternately, if the seller is simply seeking to downsize or in no rush, their motivation will undoubtedly be lower and, as a result, their desire to negotiate may be limited.  Consequently, for any buyer, getting to the root of a seller’s motivation is pivotal in determining your negotiation position and strategy.  Understand, that this information will likely be difficult to obtain.  But if available, this information can lead to purchasing a great deal

Another suggestion includes tracking how long potential homes have been on the market.  The longer a house sits, the more anxious the seller may become and this knowledge provides buyers the opportunity to capitalize on the situation when submitting an offer.  A newly-listed property or one that has just reduced their price to encourage buyers more than likely not will present a less seriously-negotiable purchase environment.

Buyers looking to negotiate may also want to seek homes with as many updates and improvements at possible.  Frequently, fixer-uppers  have already been discounted to reflect their condition, and thereby limit the room to further negotiate.  Nonetheless, if you find a home that is in need of some repair or upkeep you may be able to negotiate credits for new appliances or allowances for carpeting or painting.  Keep in mind that those credits will likely need to be considered only as closing cost credits which are still acceptable to most mortgage lenders.  If there is no need for credits relating to condition, buyers can still ask sellers to provide or assist in paying some closing costs and that many sellers prefer negotiating credits as opposed to doing actual work or repairs within their homes, particularly if the time between contract and closing is limited.

So, once you have done your homework, researched the area in which you wish to live and know the most recent sale prices of similar homes, the fall season could provide some great opportunities. Working with a trusted real estate professional on your team may help to assure you the best chance to recognize and react to these opportunities, so don’t forget to call upon your Realtor for their expert guidance.


Allyson Hoffman, ABR, ACRE, CDPE, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
RE/MAX Villager
Serving Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs
[email protected]

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Allyson Hoffman is your ultimate real estate resource for Chicago's North Shore, North and Northwest Suburbs and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate market.

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