Bid smartly. There’s no rule of thumb for what your initial offer should be or how many times you should go back and forth with the seller. Most inexperienced buyers simply make a bid that’s a certain percentage — say, 10% or 15% — off the listing price, says Ilyce Glink, the author of Buy, Close, Move In! ($15, amazon.com). But that’s not a wise strategy. In this buyer’s market, you may end up overpaying. The smarter move: Ask your real estate agent for prices of com-parable homes in the area that have recently sold. Use those figures to determine the highest amount you’re willing to pay, then submit a bid that’s a tad lower. Next, start haggling.
Make clear demands. Be up-front about extras, such as curtains and light fixtures, that you want included with the house. Buyers currently have the upper hand, so it’s more likely that most of your requests will be met.
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Use the closing date as a negotiating point. Be flexible if you can. “As long as you don’t need to relocate by a specific date, you’ll possibly get other concessions from the sellers that won’t cost you anything,” says Glink.
Ask the seller to buy you a home warranty. A good one will run him about $300 to $400 and can cover the cost of repairing or replacing appliances and major systems, such as plumbing, for a year after closing.
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