When it comes to real estate, nice guys finish last. Especially in tough markets. And by tough markets, we mean seller's markets, buyer's markets, depressed markets, rebounding markets - and any other type of market we missed.
Buying a home can be a highly charged, emotionally draining time under any circumstances. It's easy to let the process get the best of you. You have to get tough if you want to meet your real estate goal.
Buying in a hot market
Looking to buy a house in a hot market, where the neighborhood is especially popular or because it caters to first-time buyers requires an extra level of grittiness. Be the "nice guy" and you can overpay for the home you want, or lose out altogether, because you weren't willing to negotiate.
"In a competitive market, you have to have a strong backbone. It's going to get tough out there," said Mark Allen, a California real estate expert. "Many buyers today are facing tough conditions, particularly in entry-level neighborhoods where there is tremendous competition for well-priced homes. They're having to contend with multiple offers on homes and then deal with the disappointment of being outbid time and again. I have seen buyers who have had to make up to six or eight offers on different homes before they were able to finally buy one. You have to be tough and stay tough, even when you feel like giving up."
MSN recommends doing a little homework on your neighborhood of choice to increase your chances of getting that house. "Researching who lives in and around the home you're [considering] buying is of the utmost importance," said MSN. "By speaking with neighbors, you'll gain a sense of what life is like in the community and perhaps even pick up some insight into why the sellers are moving." Every little bit of info can help during negotiations.
Getting tough starts at offer time. No one wants to pay more than they're comfortable with. But if you're in a market where homes are selling fast with multiple offers, you may need a real estate market reality check. Go in with an offer that's too low and you could turn off the seller, who will then reject your offer and move on to the others that were already more in line with what they were hoping to get for their home.
Real estate agents regularly caution clients against making offers that are exceedingly low for that very reason; being in a location and/or a price range where multiple offers are becoming commonplace can add another layer of pressure to an already stressful situation.
That doesn't mean paying full price no matter what. It means being aware of what's going on in the area you're interested in, hiring a trustworthy agent who is a tough negotiator, and listening to your agent's advice. You will want to choose an agent who is a strong negotiator and who can get tough on your behalf. An experienced agent with a history of successful real estate transactions should be better able to navigate the murky real estate waters, using existing relationships and relationship-building skills to help give you an edge.
Being Tough While In Escrow
It's not over once you have an accepted offer. Thirty or 45 or 60 days or more can feel like an eternity, and things will undoubtedly come up during escrow. The title company will need proof that the home you owned in another state eight years ago is not still owned by you, and you'll have to scramble to provide proof of sale. You'll have to dig up your original divorce decree. The inspection will turn up something you weren't expecting, and then here comes that negotiation thing again.
"Buyers have the ability to continue negotiating the price after escrow has opened during their buyer investigation period," said Eller's Sellers. "The important thing for any buyer to remember is that negotiating for credits and repairs is just that -- a negotiation. It is highly unlikely that the seller will agree to everything the buyer has asked for. However, at the same time, sellers need to understand that once a repair issue has been identified, they will be required to disclose it to any subsequent buyer. So it is usually in their best interest to agree to some sort of compromise."
At the end, if you stay strong, you'll end up with the keys to your new home. And then you can go back to being the nice guy. Until it's time to start negotiating with a contractor...