The Case For Leaving (a little) Money on the Table

Home Buyers may not like to hear it, but let me suggest that there’s something more valuable than wringing the last $100 or even $500 out of a deal (depending on the price point), either when negotiating the Purchase Agreement, or resolving any inspection issues that arise later.

What might that be?

Preserving the Seller’s goodwill in the event that there are subsequent hiccups on the way to closing.

Here are just three possibilities:

One. Changing the closing date.

Once the Purchase Agreement has been executed, neither party is obliged to change the closing date.

But, there are plenty of instances when Buyers need to make a change, through no fault of their own.

The difference between a Seller who says “yes” and one who says “no” could easily be worth hundreds if not thousands in extra moving costs, storage, and/or hotel bills.

Two. Buyer financing hitches.

Unlike the Buyer’s Pre-Approval Letter, the Written Statement carries real weight.  See, “The Second Most Important Date in a Home Sale“; and “You Mean, There’s No Deal AND They Get Their Earnest Money Back?!?” 

Typically, the deadline for the Buyer providing the Written Statement to the Seller is 3-4 weeks after the Purchase Agreement has been signed; if the Buyer misses that deadline, the Seller can cancel the deal.

Plenty of Buyers ” or more accurately, their lenders ” have been known to drop the ball, requiring the Buyer to negotiate an extension.

It doesn’t happen often, but the Buyer has every right to say “no” (Sellers who have someone else waiting in the wings may be looking for an out).

Three. Free Furniture/Personal Property.

Admittedly, the usual scenario is that Sellers expect too much for the personal property they’d like to sell.  See, “And Repeat . . .’Never Negotiate Furniture.“”

But, occasionally you see Sellers throw in ” for little or no extra money ” valuable items that are permanently attached**, custom-made for the home, or that are simply too costly to move.

But that’s only if they (still) like the Buyer.

Other Scenarios

In addition to the above three scenarios, I can think of many others as well.

Like, the Buyer needs some critical info about the home from the Seller after closing (like home blueprints); the Seller is best friends with everyone on the block, and can either sing the Buyer’s praises ” or badmouth them; or there’s some repair issue prior to closing, where the Seller can either try the “band-aid” solution, or, hire a contractor to fix it properly.

Then there’s how clean the Seller leaves the home (you could drive a truck through the gap between “substantially the same condition” ” the minimum required per the walk-thru inspection language in the Purchase Agreement ” and “immaculate, eat-off-the-floor” clean).

Bottom line: wringing every last dollar out of a home purchase ” by either party ” is usually penny wise, pound foolish.

**Something that’s attached permanently is a fixture, and automatically comes with the home.

Meanwhile, personal property is outside the scope of the sale.

But these days, lots of flat panel TV’s are wall-mounted, arguably making them “permanently attached.”

However, the TV (if not the bracket) can usually still be removed, making the status of such items murkier.

See also, “The Difference Between a Home Inspection Addendum and a Repair List“; “The Difference Between “Negotiating” and “Haggling”; and “How to Blow a Seller’s Good Will ” and a $150 Closing Gift.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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