6 Signs a Seller is Open For Negotiation


As a buyer, the more you can get out of a real estate deal, the better, and that includes a lower purchase price. Having said that, any information you can gather about the seller regarding the motivations that lie beneath why they’re selling and how open they are to negotiate would be very helpful.

In sizzling-hot housing markets with a squeeze on inventory – which is pretty much the case all over the Golden State – it may seem obvious that sellers are the ones in control. However, it’s highly possible for you and your real estate agent to catch on to even the slightest hints that a seller is willing to negotiate.

Read on to find out how to spot any clues the seller may be more open to negotiating a lower purchase price and other components of your offer.

1. The Property is Vacant

If the home is vacant, that may tell you something about the seller; namely, that they’ve already moved out. If that’s the case, the seller may be more open to negotiating as they likely want to get the property off of their hands. Or, if there are packing boxes all over the place, they’re on their way out and may be more open-minded at the negotiating table.

The opposite may also be true, however. For instance, if the home shows really well and has been professionally staged, that may also be a sign that the seller is highly motivated, which can also mean you have some room for negotiation.

2. The Listing Price is Low

A really low price may be an indication that the seller really wants to get the home off the market sooner rather than later. In fact, it may even mean that the seller is more interested in getting rid of the home quickly than making a big profit. If that’s the case, you can negotiate.

On the flip side, there may also be a chance to negotiate with the seller if the listing price is really high, or more specifically, if the listing price is over market value. It’s possible that the seller is listing high with the assumption that buyers will go in asking for a discount right off the bat.

In either case, you may have some negotiating power.

3. Listing Buzzwords

Read the listing description very carefully. While sellers won’t directly blurt out that they’re willing to take a cheaper price, they may include specific buzzwords that will give you clues that they’re open to negotiation. Look for words and phrases like “priced to sell,” “needs TLC,” or “motivated.” Phrases like these could mean the seller wants to unload their home quickly, and if so, you may be able to snag a bargain.

4. Extras Are Being Offered

While getting a lower price is certainly a bonus, there are other components of a real estate contract that can be negotiated which could translate into savings. For instance, you could ask the seller to throw in all the appliances, a home warranty, the furniture, or even your closing costs, which can really add up. Just be sure not to be greedy and ask for too many extras, as this can have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve. Prioritize your list and be sure to pick only what you really want.

5. The Listing is Lingering

Identify how long the listing has been up on the market. If it’s been lingering on the market for too long and hasn’t yet been snatched up, there’s a good chance that you can wheel and deal. Generally speaking, anything over 30 to 45 days on the market means the listing is stale. Of course, this number varies depending on the market in question. For instance, in really hot markets, it’s not uncommon for homes to be sold within a couple of days of being up on the market. 

6. The Sellers Want a Quick Closing

If the seller specifies a quick closing on the listing, it may just be that they need to pull their equity out of the home fast in order to put it towards a new home purchase, for instance. If the seller wants to close the deal quickly, you can negotiate a deal on the price.

The Bottom Line

Sellers obviously want the highest price they can get for their homes, while you as the buyer clearly want to get a deal. At some point, a middle ground needs to be reached in order for a deal to successfully close. But if you can discover signs that the seller may be open to discussion, you can put yourself in the driver’s seat at the negotiating table to effectively work down to a lower price, and even negotiate various other components of the offer.