What is this property worth in today’s market?
For ethical reasons, agents can’t tell you how much to offer, says C.D. “Chip” Boring, broker/owner of Re/Max Realty Plus in Sebring, Fla. Instead of asking directly how much the home is worth, you ask indirectly, by seeking information about comparable sales, or “comps.”
An agent should arm you with plenty of comparables — prices of similar, nearby homes that have been sold recently — along with high and low ranges for a particular property, Boring says.
Your agent can tell you how long homes are staying on the market, and the percentage of the asking price sellers are getting, says Dick Gaylord, past president of the National Association of Realtors and broker with Re/Max Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif. This information tells you how hot the market is where you are looking, he says.
Also ask how long the property has been on the market. If it’s been languishing for months with nary an offer, it could be slow market or it could be overpriced, says Robert Irwin, author of “Tips and Traps When Negotiating Real Estate.”
How flexible is the seller on the asking price?
If you insult the seller with a lowball offer, you could lose your shot at the house. To avoid offending the homeowner, ask the seller’s agent how firm the seller is on price, Irwin says. You can have this conversation directly with the seller’s agent or have your agent ask the question.
Keeping it in terms of “how flexible are they on the price?” instead of “how much less will they take?” allows you to feel out the situation without offending the seller, Irwin says.
Not every seller will be willing to bargain, so if your strategy is to make lowball offers, plan to make “offers on several properties before you connect with a seller who will deal,” Irwin says.
A question that often goes hand-in-hand: Is the seller willing to help with the closing costs?
On foreclosed homes, a seller’s contribution to closing costs “certainly is common with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because they want to sell their properties,” Gaylord says. “And sellers who have equity in their property and want to help are helping.”
What’s wrong with this house?
“One of the things that’s happening now is every house is in ‘perfect condition,'” Irwin says. “The sellers really want to get rid of the properties, so they’re failing to disclose any real problems.”
Take the direct approach, he says. Ask: “Is there a problem with this house?”
Irwin recommends reminding sellers that with inspections and disclosures, chances are you’ll find any problems. “So if the sellers just get it out in the open, they’ll avoid wasting your time and theirs,” he says.
Some sellers’ agents recommend a home inspection before putting the home on the market, Boring says. If one has been done, ask to read it.
Some states, such as Texas, mandate disclosure forms in which sellers have to reveal any issues or problems with the house, says James Foltz, who recently bought a home there.
In his case, the disclosure not only provided information, but it also started a dialogue with the seller. Foltz learned that there had been a problem and that it had been fixed. In the end, Foltz says, “It wasn’t that big a deal.”
Original article via Bankrate.com