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Buyer, Beware: 5 Home-Buying Negotiation Tactics That Can Backfire

 | Jul 19, 2017

There’s no denying that buying a home is a costly endeavor—in fact, it’s likely the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make.

So it makes sense to try to negotiate where you can. Save a few bucks here, get a few things thrown in there, right? We hear ya—we’re all about making a smart offer that doesn’t leave you house-poor.

But when it comes time to negotiate, there are a few strategies you should avoid, lest you risk offending the seller and losing your shot at your dream home. This is especially true in a red-hot seller’s market, where the seller might have a number of tempting offers and is looking for anything that breaks the tie.

Of course, the key to smart negotiating is having the right team in place to advocate for you without alienating the other party. Sellers (and their agents) might be reluctant to deal with you if your agent is perceived as being difficult or—worse—shady, says Cara Ameer, a Realtor® in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. And if a seller is dealing with multiple offers, that could be enough to get you sent to the bottom of the pile. So find out the word on the street about your agent by talking to people you trust.

And then help your agent help you into a great home by not trying to pull off one of these misguided maneuvers.

1. Making a lowball offer

How low can you go? That seems to be the game some buyers play, assuming that if they start really low, they’ll end up getting the house for a song.

Gary Lucido, president of Chicago-area firm Lucid Realty, says that buyer’s agents commonly dissuade their clients from this tactic because they fear it will “insult” the seller. But the problem might be bigger than just hurting someone’s feelings.

“The real issue in starting well below the market value is that it costs you credibility,” he says. “The seller either thinks you don’t know the market or you are looking to take advantage of someone, and in either case, they don’t want to deal with you.”

The bottom line: The seller has a number in mind, and whether you start at $1 or $300,000, it only matters if you can hit the seller’s lowest target selling price.

“You’re not going to lower their target by starting at a lower number,” Lucido says.

2. Asking for a bunch of add-ons

You’ve found a place that’s within your budget. What’s more, you’ve fallen in love with the home—and everything in it.

You might be feeling emboldened to ask for more than just the house, but you should resist that temptation, says Ameer. She’s seen buyers who think it’s a good idea to ask for furniture or appliances to be thrown in for free, or expect that the sellers will just leave their patio furniture because it “goes so well” with the house.

Apparently the adage “it doesn’t hurt to ask” doesn’t apply in this situation.

“Sellers become totally offended when you keep asking for more, and you risk alienating them,” Ameer says. “Even if they don’t like their patio furniture anymore, they’d typically rather sell it on Craigslist than leave it for a greedy buyer.”

Of course, you can always ask to buy their stuff—in that case, they’d probably be flattered!

3. Using the inspection as a renegotiation tool

So, your offer was accepted, but then you start to get cold feet and you subconsciously (or consciously!) start searching for flaws that you could use as leverage to lower the price.

“Most inspectors are going to find something to recommend—such as adding gutters, improving the drainage, or upgrading all the smoke detectors—but those aren’t repairs that the seller is responsible for,” Ameer says.

If the inspection turns up something major (like a cracked foundation), by all means that should be discussed. But you shouldn’t demand that the sellers fix every minor thing or lower their price.

“You can’t expect a perfect house,” Ameer says. “If you’re constantly nickel-and-diming the seller, they might decide you’re not someone they want to do business with.”

Mind you, the sellers generally can’t just back out because they’re unhappy, but if both parties are unable to come to an agreement regarding repairs, they can both decide to abandon the deal.

Remember how much you have already invested in the process, in terms of time and money, and be willing to let the little things go.

4. Negotiating with incremental amounts

Nobody wants to pay more than they have to for a home—why offer $350,000 when you could have it for $325,000? But if you engage in too much back-and-forth, you’ll risk alienating the seller. When buyers insist on making incremental counteroffers, they’re just giving sellers a chance to move on to the next buyer, says George Theodore, a senior real estate adviser in Miami.

So, for example, if you’re ultimately willing to go up $8,000, don’t make four additional offers of $2,000 each.

“This tactic just tires out both sides and prolongs the transaction since you usually give each party 48 hours to reply,” Theodore says. It “actually gets you nowhere tactically or psychologically.”

5. Making a ‘one-way offer’

Just as the seller has a target price in mind, you probably have a point at which you’ll be unwilling to budge. But one of the worst things you can do is advertise this to the seller.

Ameer calls this the “one-way offer,” where buyers dig in their heels and state right off the bat, “This is our offer, you have X amount of time to respond, and if you don’t take it, we’re moving on.”

“This just puts the seller on the defensive and usually is a path to a dead-end offer,” Ameer says.

It seems like an obvious no-no, right? Well, even in this red-hot seller’s market, Ameer has seen buyers push for this tactic despite her warnings—especially if the buyer is offering all cash, or if the property has been on the market for a while. She calls it the “seller-is-lucky-to-have-me syndrome.”

“Sometimes buyers have to try this tactic themselves to see how it really ends up before they decide to get with reality,” Ameer says.

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7 Must-Have Mudroom Ideas for Your Home

 | Jul 19, 2017

Looking at mudroom ideas and planning a remodel—no matter how small or large—might seem like a deep back-burner project, especially if your kitchen cabinets need an overhaul and every shrub in the yard is begging to be pruned. But adding smart details to your entryway might actually save you time and reduce daily stress. And while you’re at it, why not give yourself a stylish and well-organized place to store every shoe, umbrella, and set of keys so you never lose your head trying to find them again?

These are the seven decorative elements that every good mudroom (aka a high-traffic area by the front door) needs.

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1. Umbrella dilemma


Photo by LOVE INTERIORS – Get that soaking wet umbrella off the floor and into a decorative stand.

The first thing you want to do with a dripping umbrella when you enter the house is drop it. But try to resist this urge and instead stuff it into a handsome vessel.

“Choose something unexpected like an old crock or an oversized ceramic pitcher,” suggests Carole Marcotte, an interior designer with Form & Function, in Raleigh, NC. Just make sure any container you select is tall enough to accommodate umbrellas of various lengths.

If you have enough depth in your mudroom, build in narrow cubbies or a crosshatch rack for umbrella storage, says Mark Lestikow, CEO of Closet Factory Colorado.

2. Writing on the wall

Photo by Decorum Designer Cabinetry & Flooring – Write last-minute reminders or important phone numbers on a chalkboard near the front door.

A chalkboard or whiteboard strategically placed on the wall of your mudroom is the perfect solution for alerting your gang about dental appointments, important phone numbers, and any other reminder you need to jot down.

“Post a calendar in this space, too,” says Jamie Novak, organizing pro and author of “Keep This Toss That.” Use a highlighter or attach neon sticky notes on those days that have a different schedule.

3. Hook ’em


Photo by Pinneo Construction – Make sure every coat, hat, and bag gets a hook.

An abundance of hooks in all sizes is a must in any mudroom. Think beyond the standard three-hook hangers you can buy at your favorite home decor store.

“You need lots and lots of hooks for car keys, your work lanyard, dog leashes, shopping bags, backpacks, your purse, jackets, baseball caps, scarves, and more,” says Novak.

“You’ll also need a hook for the dog’s towel when she comes in muddy and wet from her walk,” adds Lorena Canals, founder of the eponymous home accessories brand. For the little ones in your house, hang a second row of hooks at kid height.

4. Mirror, mirror


Photo by Jarlath Mellett – As long as there’s a mirror in your mudroom, you’ll never leave the house with food in your teeth again.

Hang a mirror so you can get a last-minute glance at your mug before heading out the door. Getting a full-length one is even better if you have the space, notes Novak. Get creative with multiple mirrors of varying sizes like the circular ones seen above.

“You’re passing through this space multiple times a day; you want it to make you smile,” she says.

5. Smart storage


Photo by Oak Hill Architects – Shelves, hooks, baskets, empty surfaces—this is the stuff a good mudroom is made of.

You can’t just throw everything on a hook or in a basket and call it a day.

Amy Bell, owner of Red Chair Interiors in Cary, NC, recommends shelves for footwear, rather than baskets or bins.

“Shoes are just easier to put away and retrieve from hard-surface storage, and they tend to look tidier all lined up in a row,” she says. You can also add a stash spot for sunglasses, phones, mail, receipts, and small change.

You’ll also want to designate a spot for bags, backpacks, and laptop cases so they aren’t just plopped on a chair or bench.

“I also like to keep an open shelf in the mudroom for things that need returning, such as library books or the neighbor’s lasagna dish,” says Bell. Also consider a section in your mudroom for items that can be rotated out seasonally (gloves and scarves in winter; swim goggles, sunscreen, and bug spray in summer).

6. Have a seat


Photo by Anchor Builders – A bench will prevent you taking a tumble as you struggle to pull on your shoes.

At the very least, place a bench in the mudroom where the family can sit to put on their shoes. Marcotte recommends old locker benches.

“They have an interesting, industrial look, and kids can’t beat them up any more than they already are,” she says. Or poke around a flea market for a lone church pew and place baskets underneath. If you want to go the built-in route (like the mudroom above), you can design it with pull-out drawers below the bench.

7. Charge it


Photo by Great Kitchens & Baths – Never walk out of the house with a low battery again. Just don’t forget to grab your phone from the charging station!

While hooks and baskets are the mudroom standard, modern families often have a number of outlets with chargers on a rack to hold everyone’s phone, says Lestikow. It might seem counterintuitive, but installing this tech station right by the door might encourage kids—and adults—to power down their devices earlier and finish the day face to face.

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10 Things to Never, Ever Show When Staging Your Home

taxidermy-wall

Selling a home is all about presentation, which is why home staging is such a big deal. A vase of flowers, a bowl of fruit—such details can really draw buyers in. And yet on the flip side, certain items lying around your home can kill any potential for a sale.

While you might think common sense would prevail and prompt people to hide this stuff, we think it’s worth reminding y’all, just in case. Before showing off your home to buyers (or any guests for that matter), make sure to stash these 10 things out of sight.

Watch: 5 Things You Should Definitely Hide Before Selling Your Home
Drug paraphernalia

Let’s state the obvious, shall we? Even if it’s legal in some states, not everyone approves of marijuana. Get your 3-foot bong off the coffee table and into storage, clean out the ashtrays, and stash the rolling papers. Now is also a good time to remove the “Yes we cannabis!” posters and your stack of “High Times” in the bathroom, too.

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9 of the Worst Pest Infestations We’ve Ever Seen

Mousetraps and roach motels

There’s no better way to say “This place is crawling with critters!” than to display these sure signs of aggressive pest control. Just tuck those items underneath the fridge, and pray the things they’re trying to catch don’t scuttle out when prospective buyers walk through the door.

 

Cameras by the bed

If you and your partner like to make your own private videos, more power to you. Just remember to move the camera.

 

 

Any kind of sex stuff, honestly

 

Personal massagers, oils, condoms—pack ’em up in a box and stick it deep in your nightstand or closet. Yes, it may sound obvious, but we’ve all stumbled across these items in someone’s home at some point. Awk-waard!

 

Taxidermy

We understand hunting is a hobby, and we’re not here to judge you (not much anyway). But multiple animal heads on the wall and an upright stuffed badger chillin’ in the parlor can give an otherwise great-looking room a creepy or foreboding vibe.

For buyers, a new home often means the start of a new life, or an infusion of new possibilities. Dead animals, well, they can impose a feeling of dread that can linger throughout the entire showing (and perhaps long after). And those buyers who straight-up hate hunters may make a snap judgment not to deal with you. So even if you stuffed the beloved family pet, just keep it out of sight.

Firearms and other combat weapons

If you’re a gun aficionado, make sure your rifles are tucked away in a safe. For other weapons—like combat knives, throwing stars, swords, great axes, spears—try and clear them from view, or at least put them behind glass. Preferably in a cabinet that locks.

Creepy collections

Rooms stuffed with porcelain dolls, celebrity shrines, human skulls, a vast collection of disturbing cinema—these are things that could put buyers off. Way off! You want them to envision their own lives and family in the house; showcasing a collection of something that could be in a museum of medical oddities will only make people think of “Silence of the Lambs.”

Anything political

With a particularly contentious political season in full swing, you should get rid of any kind of party affiliation or presidential endorsement. The last thing you want to do is bring politics into a home sale, or have that topic come up at closing. Do a political purge, and get rid of any party signage.

You

You’re great, really. But when you’re showing your home, you need to make yourself scarce. Seriously. It’s something real estate agents really hate.

The departed

Not the movie—we’re referring to your loved ones. An urn carrying ashes of the deceased framed by family photos is a touching tribute, but unfortunately not something a lot of buyers want to see. You don’t have to sweep your loved one under the rug, but you may want to temporarily relocate them when home buyers come around.

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