How Do I Negotiate an Offer Right Now?

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Real Estate

The real estate market—and daily life—has been completely upside down in just a few weeks. Yet maybe in spite of it all, you've managed to find a home you love and are ready to make an offer. Congratulations! But as you remain on the brink of what is potentially the biggest investment of your life, amid a global crisis, you may be feeling a fair amount of uncertainty.

We're here to help you navigate this step of  "Home Buying in the Age of Coronavirus." this article aims to help you answer the question:

"How do I negotiate an offer right now?" It'll also help you figure out how to get your offer to the closing table.

Here is everything you need to know about getting from offer to closing during the coronavirus pandemic.

So how much can you lowball? Not as much as you would think.

"Banks have rolled out mortgage forbearance programs, so most sellers are not in immediate danger of losing their home, even if they just lost their job or their income has been significantly cut," says Caleb Liu, who flips homes in Southern California with "Other sellers have opted to pull their listings and wait for better market conditions, so inventory remains tight."

On the other hand, a home seller who doesn't have the luxury of time is facing a smaller buyer pool, due to stay-at-home orders and concerns about buying a home based on what may only amount to a virtual tour. So buyers could have the upper hand for a short time when it comes to homeowners who need to sell.

"Here in the Phoenix and Scottsdale region it's still a very strong seller's market with a low inventory of homes," saysJo Ann Bauer, an agent with the Ozer Group Coldwell Banker Realty. "However, I think nervous sellers are going to be more open to price adjustments and negotiating with buyers, so there is room for buyers to be more aggressive in their offer price."

Still, buyers should not assume that because we are in a pandemic they can automatically lowball a seller. Sellers may be more willing, however, to entertain offers on the lower end.

"While I'm not seeing lowball offers, I am seeing sellers—who may have held out for potential better offers if we were not in this crisis—quick to take offers they receive and get officially under contract," adds Julia Henson, a real estate professional in Springfield, MO.

The only way to test a seller's level of motivation is to make an offer, says John Grimes, an agent in Atlanta. But play it safe.

"Just remember that most sellers that don't absolutely need to sell would rather not engage with a buyer that is seeking to take advantage of the situation," says Grimes, who advises offering a modest discount of 3% to 5% below asking price to start a dialogue.