Moving Mom…the Next Step Let’s Dance! Negotiating an Offer on the Sale of Your Home
By Brooke Bass
We have an offer, but don’t break out the champagne yet! We are beginning a dance that will last until closing. Negotiating starts now, and includes a series of moves, or posturing by both parties where knowledge, skill and experience are crucial. This is when you are thankful you have chosen a seasoned Realtor® to represent you.
The first thing you have to know is who is representing whom. Do you have a signed agreement with your listing agent so they are representing you and only you? Does the buyer in the transaction have their own representation? Is your agent acting as a Dual Agent and negotiating for both buyer and seller? This is what we call “agency”, and all parties should know the answer.
Agency is often misunderstood by buyers and sellers. In the Georgia Association of Realtors Purchase and Sale Agreement, the section called “Agency and Brokerage” lets you know if the agent working with the buyer, also known as the Selling Broker, is actually representing the buyer. If the agent has a signed Exclusive Buyer Brokerage Agreement with the buyer, the Purchase and Sale Agreement will let you know they are working for the buyer as a Buyer’s Agent.
When you are presented an offer through a Buyer’s Agent, beware. A Buyer’s Agent is obligated to tell the buyer anything that he or she learns about you, your property, your reason for moving, or anything they can find out in order to formulate an offer to their advantage. If you are divorcing, had a death in the family, or some crisis, you may need to sell. Needing to sell makes you a motivated seller, which gives the buyer hope that they can buy your property under the market value. Buyers are always looking for “motivation”, so keep your personal information personal.
The first agreement you and the buyer must reach is the sale price of your property under the terms that are acceptable to both parties. Next, most often there are property inspections, the appraisal, and loan approval (if not an all cash offer), all which can be openers for renegotiation. Even cash buyers are paying for appraisals and making their offer “subject to the appraisal,” so they do not over-pay for a property in today’s market.
In order to give your agent a strong negotiating position, you as the seller should be removed from the picture. All communication should be through your agent. Don’t talk directly to the Buyer’s Agent or the buyer. When Realtors® are posturing, stay in the background and let them do what they know how to do. Sellers can actually un-sell a property, or cause the buyer to ask for more.
During inspections and the appraisal, say NOTHING. Realtors® know the triggers for red flags, and are there to guide you through until closing. Don’t feel you have to chat with the inspectors, follow them around and be their friend. Your agent should be present during inspections, so they are made aware of any issues with the property. They can then show the parties what needs to be repaired and begin negotiating who will pay for the cure.
Negotiating is a give and take dance, and if done well, everyone walks away feeling like a winner. It’s a long way to closing. Be patient, and keep your eye on the end goal.
Next week: the inspections and what your agent can do and cannot do during the appraisal process.
By Brooke Bass, Associate Broker with Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners and owner of Gracious Moves LLC, a Savannah based Staging and Move Management Company.
A nationally award winning Realtor, Brooke has been successfully selling and staging homes since 1985. She holds the National Association of Realtors, “Seniors Real Estate Specialist” (SRES), “Council of Residential Specialists” (CRS), and “Graduate of Realtor Institute” (GRI) designations, and memberships in the National Association of Senior Move Managers, and Greater Savannah Coalition on Aging. Brooke serves as the Real Estate Expert and Advisory Board Member to the Savannah Clubhouse, Inc.-The Reed House, a new mental health rehabilitation facility opening soon in Savannah.