How to negotiate the best deal when buying a house

When you’re buying your dream home, these tactics can help you score the best deal.

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You’ve finally found a property that meets all your requirements – it’s in the right location and it has all the right features. You’re ready to make an offer, but you don’t want to pay a cent more than you have to.

Generally, negotiation is about understanding the market, finding out which experts can help you, and sticking to a budget. If you negotiate well, you can enjoy savings not only on the purchase price, but also on stamp duty and home loan interest.

Research the market

It’s impossible to work out how much a property is worth if you haven’t done your research. Inspect similar properties in the area to see how they compare to one another. What price have similar properties sold for nearby in the past few months? Which way is the property market trending in your suburb? Working out the true value of the property will give you more bargaining power when it’s time to negotiate.

Dealing with real estate agents

Remember that a real estate agent is working for the vendor, not for you. It’s the agent’s job to get the best deal for the seller, so they might use tricky tactics to get you to up your offer. Don’t feel pressured into offering more than you’re comfortable with, and don’t over-disclose when it comes to your budget or your emotional attachment to the property.

At the same time, it’s important to be upfront and open with the agent. Communicate clearly with the agent, put all offers in writing, and make yourself as easy to deal with as possible – this can help your chances if the seller is considering your offer alongside other interested buyers.

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Use a buyer's agent

A buyer's agent or a buyer’s advocate can help you find the right property and then represent you throughout the negotiation process. A buyer's agent will assess different properties and negotiate the purchase of properties on your behalf.

Using a buyer’s agent also gives you the advantage of being able to access off-the-market properties which can be achieved through their industry networks.

Research the property

To work out exactly how much you should offer for a property, it’s important to take a closer look at the features and drawbacks of the property and why the vendor is selling.

Questions you should ask include:

  • Why is the vendor selling?
  • Are they looking for a quick sale?
  • How long has the property been on the market?
  • How much is the vendor expecting to sell the property for? Is that price flexible or is there room to negotiate?
  • Does the property have any known issues, such as building defects or pest problems?

The answers to all of these questions will impact upon the motivation of the seller. For example, a vendor who wants a quick sale may be more likely to accept an offer below their asking price than one who is happy to wait for the right buyer to come along.

Stick to your budget

Before you start house hunting, you need to sit down with an accountant and a financial planner to work out your budget. It’s also a good idea to speak with a mortgage broker to understand your borrowing capacity.

Make sure that you stick to that limit no matter what sort of pressures you face. Whether it’s competition from other buyers or simply the fear of missing out on your dream property, don’t sway from your budget. If the price of a property is taken out of your reach, walk away.

It’s a good idea to offer an amount less than your maximum limit. This gives you some room if the seller wants to negotiate, while it could also end up saving you a significant amount of money on the property purchase. On the other hand, if you make an offer at the upper end of your price limit, the seller may think you have room to move and you could be priced out.

Avoid offering an amount lower than the asking price. This will insult the seller and make them less likely to consider any future offers you make.

Finally, make sure you have home loan pre-approval before you make an offer.

Take emotion out of the equation

To remain cool, calm and collected during the negotiations, try to remove emotion from your decision making. Keep in mind that if you don’t secure this property, there will be many similar properties around the corner that will fit your buying criteria.

Fear of missing out (FOMO) can be a powerful motivator, especially in the excitement of an auction, so don’t let it overpower your plans or budget.

Special conditions

A good tactic in your negotiations is to include special conditions in your offer which can make you stand out from the crowd.

For example, if the vendor is keen for a quick settlement, you could indicate to their real estate agent that you are willing to finalise settlement within a reduced time frame, such as 30-40 days. Similarly, showing that you have home loan pre-approval and that you are willing to pay a large deposit can also increase your bargaining power. Of course, you’ll need to be ready to pay a deposit straight away if your offer is accepted.

Choose the right home loan

Buying a property is expensive, but even if you miss out on saving money on your purchase during the negotiation phase you can save thousands by getting the right home loan. Making simple decisions such as finding and using an offset account, putting lump sums such as bonuses and tax returns on your home loan and making payments every two weeks instead of every month can add up to save you thousands over the life of your loan. This means even if you don't succeed during the negotiation phase you can still come out in front.

Remember buying a home is a huge financial commitment. A few thousand knocked off the purchase price could save you thousands in interest repayments over the years. Arm yourself with as much information as possible, don't be pressured into bad decisions and don't be afraid to walk away from a deal.

You'd be amazed how quickly you'll stumble into another "perfect" property at the right price. Take your time, think long term and most importantly leave your emotions at the door. If you don't, you could end up paying for it decades later!

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Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount offer for Owner Occupiers, P&I Borrowing over $200,000
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2.59%
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Enjoy flexible repayments, a redraw facility and the ability to split your loan. Plus, pay no application or ongoing fees.
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2.67%
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$0 p.a.
80%
This loan offers a competitive variable rate and a 100% offset account to help save you on interest repayments. This loan is not available for construction.
Suncorp Back to Basics Home Loan - Better Together Special Offer $150k+ LVR<=90% Incl. LMI (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.78%
2.79%
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IMB Budget Home Loan - Special LVR <=90% (Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.78%
2.84%
$449
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90%
NSW and ACT customers only. You can get an interest rate discount for a limited time with this competitive variable mortgage.
ME Flexible Home Loan Fixed with Members Package - 2 Year Fixed Rate LVR <= 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.49%
3.41%
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Lock in a competitive rate for owner occupiers for two years. Comes with a 100% offset account.
Well Home Loans Balanced Fixed Home Loan - 2 Year (Owner occupier, P&I)
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2.46%
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Low fee fixed mortgage with optional 100% offset account.
Greater Bank Great Rate Discount Variable with Family Pledge Home Loan - Up to 110% LVR
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Pay no deposit or LMI and get a discounted rate with this family pledge loan. Requires a family member to act as guarantor. NSW, QLD and ACT only.
Virgin Reward Me Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year $300k+ Special offer (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
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Buy your home and lock in a low rate for the first two years. Get a $2,500 cashback when you switch to Virgin Money with a loan amount of $300,000 or more with an LVR up to 80%. You must apply by 28 August and settle by 30 October 2020.
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