In a high demand real estate market like Denver, Sellers have the advantage. When Buyer demand outpaces available inventory, the Seller is king, and they have the upper hand at the negotiating table. Don’t abandon all hope, Buyers! In any market, there are things you can do to educate yourself so as to gain an edge in the process.
One area Buyers should pay particular attention to is the cosmetic condition of properties they view. In a Buyers’ Market, Sellers have to work harder to appeal to Buyers, including staging and taking care of deferred maintenance. Sellers can get away with minor deferred maintenance or cosmetic issues when the market is in their favor. BUT – these issues can still give the Buyer a little wiggle room at the negotiating table.
The following is a list of items you can use to your advantage when trying to negotiate concessions or a lower price as a Buyer in a Sellers’ Market (or any market):
- Overly colorful paint, or paint in poor condition. If the basement is hot pink or the exterior paint is flaking off, it is worth asking for a minor break in the price, or a “paint allowance,” to help cover the cost of updating the home. You might not get what you ask for, and you may have to offer full price with a “paint allowance” stipulation, but the answer to a question you don’t ask is always NO.
- Damaged carpet or other flooring. I once helped clients buy a house that sounds terrible – but was really a hidden gem: listed under FMV (fair market value), but the house needed all new paint, there were no window treatments of any kind, the main level smelled like dog and the finished basement smelled like cat. UGH – right? They bought this home in a desirable suburb for about $20,000 less than it was worth, and by painting and replacing flooring themselves and purchasing quality blinds on sale, they were able to make this house shine and gain instant equity. Don’t pass up an opportunity like this because the house is a little rough around the edges.
- Fence in disrepair. Wood fencing is a common source of deferred maintenance. I don’t know many homeowners who enjoy staining or painting the fence every year or two. Use this to your advantage. If the Seller has left the fence alone for a few years, or it has obvious damage, ask for a break in price, or ask whether the Seller will meet you in the middle on repair or replacement costs. If you’ve made a fair offer and the Seller is motivated to close the deal in a timely manner, you may be able to pick up a few bucks on an item like this.
- Road construction or other pesky projects – current or future. Even in a Sellers’ Market, major road construction, noisy building sites, even nearby home construction can be a pain. Noise. Pollution. Ugly views. Extra traffic. None of these things are pleasant to put up with. As a Buyer, do your homework! If there is a new road going in half a block away, the Seller should disclose this information if they have it – but they don’t always do that. Learn everything you can about a city or neighborhood, and if there are projects underway or planned for the near future, use this information to your advantage. A motivated Seller with a smart Realtor on their side knows major construction projects near the home will not improve the market value in the short run, and they will likely want to sell the house before the dust begins to rise. Use this information to negotiate a better price, or possibly concessions on the home.
Buying a house is a big deal, and there are a lot of moving pieces. When you work with an experienced Realtor, you’ll reap the benefits of someone who’s got your back – and knows every in and out that could save you money and give you an edge. In a market like Denver, Buyers need all the help they can get to score a great deal. If you’ll be in the market soon, I’d love to help you find the right home and maximize your potential at the negotiating table.
The Meyers Group