FAQ'S: Step 5 to Buying Your New Home - What's a Fair Price?

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

Question:  Now that we've found the perfect place, how can I figure out how much to offer the sellers to buy it?

Answer:  There is no magic formula for coming up with the perfect price to go with your perfect home. There will be two important factors.  First, how does the asking price stack up to the actual "market value" of the property?  And second, are you the only offer on the table, or is there competition from other buyers who share your good taste?

Once you decide on a house, I will start by putting together the history of sales for similar homes in the neighborhood or even the same street.  I will give you information about the differences in each one - was the kitchen renovated?  Was there a first floor powder room?  Was the lower level finished?  In short, what did these homes have that your new home lacks, and vice versa.  This will help you determine whether or not the sellers' asking price is reasonable or just way optimistic.

If you are the only offer on the table, it may be difficult to resist the urge to negotiate for a lower number, even if their price is at or below the recent comparable sales. Here are some important considerations:

  • If the home was just listed, the sellers might be less willing to negotiate than they will be after it's been on the market for a few weeks or months.
  • If you go in too low, they may not take your offer seriously and reject it outright. 
  • If they do decide to enter into negotiations with a counter offer, competition could show up while you are going back and forth.  You could become the warm up act for what could become the main feature - the new buyers' offer!

In competitive situations, especially if you really, really want the place, you could be tempted to offer more than the asking price, even throwing caution to the winds and pay more than the research shows the house is worth.  Or, as frequently happens these days, you could decide not to participate in a nasty bidding war and move on to find another new home. 

There are some listing agents who deliberately price below market in the hopes that the property will get bid up.  So the focus really needs to be on the market value rather than the list price.

Of course, price is not the only factor.  The terms of the offer you make will also influence how attractive it could be for the sellers, whether or not there are other offers on the table.  And that will be the topic of Step 6!  So stay tuned!



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Kwee Huset
Kwee Huset Realty - Venice, FL
Venice Florida Homes For Sale

Good morning Patricia, you have an excellent information helping buyer to make decision on the house s/he wanted to buy. Have a marvelous weekend.

Jun 02, 2012 01:45 AM #1
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Pat, excellent discussion on what is market. Buyers also have to know their walk away highest price unless something can be offset adjusting the terms.... Great post.

Jun 02, 2012 01:54 AM #2
Fred Carver Personal Real Estate Corporation
RE/MAX Camosun Victoria BC Real Estate - Victoria, BC
Accredited Real Estate Consultant

Hi Patricia...I see Real Estate is done the same everywhere...you sound just like me with a Buyer.

Great advice for home buyers anywhere.

Have a fun and successful weekend.

Jun 02, 2012 02:02 AM #3
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Excellent post...good insights, here, as to the negotiation process.

Jun 02, 2012 02:04 AM #4
John MacArthur
Century 21 Redwood - Washington, DC
Licensed Maryland/DC Realtor, Metro DC Homes

Pat....an enjoyable read. I totally agree that the listing price is only the listing price. Market value is even harder to ascertain. Sellers often have an emotional value added to the street value. Buyers often have a poorly framed opinion of what a home costs. Lenders will accept an appraisers opinion. Agents have to find that that needle in a haystack price point where there is a meeting of the minds.

Jun 02, 2012 02:20 AM #5
Michael Jacobs
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena Area Real Estate 818.516.4393

Hi Pat  -- right after "why are the owners selling?" it must be the most asked question by buyers.  

Jun 02, 2012 03:04 AM #6
Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

Pat.. Very good advise for a buyer !

Jun 02, 2012 03:07 AM #7
Kristine Ginsberg
Elite Staging and Redesign, LLC - Short Hills, NJ
NJ Home Stager

Pat - what a great post on how to decide on what you're going to offer on the home you love. So many people buy homes on emotion, this is a great outline of factors buyers need to consider before they make an offer!

Jun 02, 2012 03:09 AM #8
Curtis Van Carter
Better Homes & Gardens Wine Country Group - Yountville, CA
Your Napa Valley Broker Extraordinaire


Hopefully you still have a few homes where a buyer can still negotiate in this almost insane market. Don't we all pine for the good old days when this was the norm?? cheers cvc

Jun 02, 2012 03:20 AM #9
Dorie Dillard
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good afternoon Patricia,

I like your approach to helping buyers consider and weigh in what their offer should be. There are many factors to consider and you have outlined them well!!

Jun 02, 2012 04:11 AM #10
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

Hi Pat - What a wonderfully clear way to explain the process of pricing for offers!  In our area, we have found ourselves in a very tight inventory situation.  Very simply - there just isn't much available, and what there is gets multiple offers.  So those folks who think they will underbid to pick up a bargain are having trouble being taken seriously.  Checking comps and truly comparing them is more important than ever right now.

Jun 02, 2012 04:32 AM #11
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Patricia Kennedy

Home in the Capital
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