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Make an Offer

Probably the question I field most frequently is, “How flexible is the owner?” in other words… “Is there some wiggle room in their price?” in other words… “How much do you think they’ll come down.”

My answer is always the same:  Make an offer. You’ll find out very quickly how flexible the owner is.

As a matter of fact, you should be making lots of offers on lots of places. It’s the only way to make things happen. It’s the only way to get the negotiation process started. It’s the only way you are going to find a bargain.

Here’s how I see it.  If you really like a place, then you should always make an offer as long as you can meet the following criteria: a) you are sincere (it’s not nice to mess with people); b) you are making an offer for no more than the property is worth to you (this is not necessarily the market value); and c) you are making an offer for what you can currently afford.

Finally, try to remember that you will always catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Be respectful and polite when presenting an offer – especially if you are speaking directly to the owner. You want them to want to work with you (return your phone calls, take you seriously, etc.). Here’s an example of how I’ve always presented offers in the past: “I think this is a great house (or apartment, or brownstone, etc.). I really love it. I know that the offer I’m making is below asking, but I want you to know that it is a serious offer. I have been pre-qualified for a mortgage and have retained a lawyer and so am prepared to go forward immediately. That all being said, I’d like to offer $XXX,XXX for your house.”

So make an offer!  You’ll be surprised at the results. Thanks for reading, Jim.

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Categories: Buy It
  1. Hani
    August 13, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Hi Jim,

    I was reading a times story about a couple who purchased in park slope in ’91, and it reminded me of this post. The link to the article is: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/12/realestate/12habi.html?ex=1344571200&en=3a21f6d7c4edb814&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

    Anyway, the interesting part is:

    It is also about spacious houses. Until 1991, the Parks lived in a Brooklyn Heights apartment. When their rent hit $1,000, Mr. Park decided it was time to buy.

    A broker persuaded them to visit Park Slope, where they were entranced by the brownstones, including 10 complementary houses on the west side of Eighth Avenue . One of those houses, built in 1905, was on the market for $690,000. “That was way out of our price range,” said Mr. Park, now 49. But the building, with original wainscoting, parquet floors and eight fireplaces (each a unique composition of metal, carved wood and ceramics) was hard to put out of their minds.

    Eventually, the house, which had been sitting empty for more than a year, was relisted at $580,000. The broker advised the Parks to make an offer, any offer. Mr. Park offered $425,000, expecting to be turned down.

    Two weeks later, he recalled, “The Realtor called and said: ‘They accepted the offer. Get your stuff together.’ ”

    The couple’s biggest problem, back then, was what to do with all the space — three floors, each 20 feet wide and 75 feet deep. (The ground floor was and still is a rental apartment.) The couple had little money, they said, so they lived in nearly empty rooms.

    Talk to you later,

    Hani

  2. August 27, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    Jim,

    My fiance and I decided to make an offer on a condo after reading your article. In fact, I used your script word-for-word!

    Our offer was lower than the asking price, but we took your advice and offered what the property was worth to us.

    Thanks again!
    Steve

  1. October 24, 2007 at 12:55 pm

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