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Real Answers

August 21, 1994

Q: How do I negotiate a price below the list price?

A: Most real estate experts encourage buyers to learn about the seller's motivation so they can obtain the best deal possible.

For example, a lower price with a speedy escrow may be more acceptable to someone who must move quickly due to a job transfer. People going through a divorce or eager to move into another home frequently are more receptive to lower offers.

A seller's advertised price should be treated as a rough estimate of what they would like to receive, according to Ralph Warner, Ira Serkes and George Devine in their book, "How to Buy a House in California," (Nolo Press, Berkeley: 1994).

"Different sellers price houses very differently. Some deliberately overprice, others ask for pretty close to what they hope to get and a few (maybe the cleverest) underprice their houses in the hope that potential buyers will compete and overbid. "In considering the list price of a house you're serious about, take the time to learn about the seller's personality," the authors write.

Before making an offer, also investigate how much comparable homes have sold for in the area so that you can determine whether the home is priced right.

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