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No downside to lowballing?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis December 11, 2012 07:18 AM

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The holiday bargain season in full swing. And intrepid buyers, hoping to get a deal, are scouting listings and hitting the open house circuit.

But why wait for the seller to make the first move and offer up a juicy discount? If you like a house but don't want to pay the listing price, why not offer what you think the property is worth?

Lance, a regular on the comment boards, makes a pitch, so to speak, for the good, old low-ball offer.

Too often, he argues, agents simply don't want to make the extra effort and just want the sale to go through. Plus, there's an element of pride here as well - other agents might look askance.

But for the buyer, the extra effort of drawing up the offer and getting it over the seller is minimal.

Here's Lance:

There is absolutely no downside to making a low but fair offer, except for the 5 minutes it takes to draft an email or complete/fax the paperwork. Most brokers try to discourage this by telling buyers not to "insult the seller". In reality, they are lazy and in some cases reluctant to be perceived by peers in the industry as unable to control their client. Regardless, don't be a chump. There is no downside to making a low offer. Ever.

The biggest argument against low balling is that it is probably not going to work the way it does in your daydreams. Most likely the seller will brush it off - a few make even take umbrage and feel insulted.

Moreover, given the rapidly dwindling inventory out there, if the house is half decent - and already priced right - there may be other buyers lining up.

Of course, not everything is so simple and there are still certainly homes languishing on the market because they are overpriced and in need of work. Always a winning combo!

Yet the last thing you should consider is whether your low ball offer might somehow rub the seller, the seller's agent or your own agent the wrong way.

Only a fool would be deterred out of fear that a seller or agent might look askance at an offer or somehow feel disrespected.

Really, who cares? If your agent doesn't like it, get a new one! There may be a shortage of homes on the market, but there is never any shortage of real estate agents looking for work.

Sadly, there are sellers that do take offense - but do us all a favor and don't buy into their self-important nonsense.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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