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7 signs a seller is ready to bargain

Street signs and show announcements in New York City

Being able to sniff out a great deal is an excellent instinct to have when you’re searching for a home. It can mean getting the property of your dreams and saving tens of thousands of dollars, leaving more in the pot for buying furniture, moving costs and other expenses. The key, of course, is using this talent to determine if a home seller is ready to bargain. 

Not sure if you can sniff out that great deal?  Not to worry as there are always some subtle (or often not so subtle) giveaways that can tell you if a seller is ready to bargain or negotiate price on a house. To get a leg up, here are seven signs to look for that may signal that a seller is ready for a fast, easy and cheaper sale.

1. A vacant house with packing boxes

A stack of boxes and other items preparing to move

Take note if the home is occupied or vacant during the walk-through. A vacant house suggests that the seller, or their tenant, has already moved out and there is some urgency to the proceedings. The fact that the rooms are bare or packing boxes are everywhere, could mean they are open to bargaining in order to get a quick sale.

2. It’s well advertised and staged for sale

View of a modern bedroom with white, grey and wood furniture

If the house has been extensively advertised and immaculately staged, this suggests that the seller is very serious about selling their home and most likely the seller is ready to bargain. While you probably can’t low-ball and get the house, it does mean that all reasonable offers will be seriously considered.

3. The house is priced well below market value

Sale signs at a store entryway

If you’ve done your homework and concluded the price is cheap for the location, then perhaps the seller is very motivated. This desire for a quick sale could indicate a pressure situation, such as divorce or difficulty with paying the mortgage.

In this case, it definitely pays to ask your agent why the owner is selling. You should also get a property inspection to determine if there are issues with the home’s condition, and double check if any ongoing taxes and fees are unusually high.

4. The property has been on the market for 100+ days

Two women working at a desk with computers fist bumping

A seller with a stale property that isn’t generating interest or receiving bids could be ripe for bargaining. Check the values of the neighbouring properties and the location, it may be that it’s overpriced and this is why it hasn’t sold. Also, do your due diligence on the property to make sure it’s sound and there are no issues.

If it all looks good, then go in with a low offer that is 10% to 20% lower than the listing price, and see if they’re willing to play ball. If you’re lucky, you’ll get an owner who is sick of waiting around and ready to strike a deal.

5. The listing uses certain phrases

A woman sitting on a couch doing paperwork

Often it’s easy to spot a ‘motivated seller’ simply because the agent has specified this in the listing description. They may use other terms as well, such as, ‘priced to sell’, ‘quick close’ or ‘seller relocating’ because the seller is ready to bargain and wants to close the sale as soon as possible. Be prepared for a quick-fire round of bargaining, and the seller wanting to negotiate closing dates. If you can meet their closing date requirements, ask for a price cut.

6. The seller is including extras

View of a yard sale with many people on the lawn of a home
The Spruce

If you end up with a very motivated seller you may end up negotiating a lower price on your home, as well as a few extras. Often you can ask for appliances, furniture or window treatments, to be added to the chattels list, or even a percentage of closing costs paid. This can be a win-win situation for a seller who’s trying to declutter and a first-time buyer with a limited budget for furniture, appliances or paying closing costs.

7. It’s a buyer’s market or off-season

A for sale sign in front of a large home on a snowy day

The market itself can be a good indicator of whether a seller is ready to bargain. If it’s a buyer’s market then the supply of homes exceeds buyer demand. A buyer can call the shots because there is less competition. Quite often buyer’s markets occur during specific seasons. For instance, historically winter months have been good times to buy real estate as buyers can typically negotiate a lower price due to lower volumes of interested and active buyers in the market.

In any market, if you can find a truly motivated seller who just wants to get the deal done then you may be surprised at their willingness to offer you a cut-rate price. You just need to keep your eyes and ears open and recognize the signs.

Image of Angela Pearse

Angela Pearse

Angela Pearse is a freelance writer who frequently travels but loves returning home to her Art Deco apartment. She’s also passionate about historical novels, Netflix, hiking and healthy living.

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