Probably the question I field most frequently is, “How flexible is the owner?” in other words… “Is there some wiggle room in their price?” in other words… “How much do you think they’ll come down.”
My answer is always the same: Make an offer. You’ll find out very quickly how flexible the owner is.
As a matter of fact, you should be making lots of offers on lots of places. It’s the only way to make things happen. It’s the only way to get the negotiation process started. It’s the only way you are going to find a bargain.
Here’s how I see it. If you really like a place, then you should always make an offer as long as you can meet the following criteria: a) you are sincere (it’s not nice to mess with people); b) you are making an offer for no more than the property is worth to you (this is not necessarily the market value); and c) you are making an offer for what you can currently afford.
Finally, try to remember that you will always catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Be respectful and polite when presenting an offer – especially if you are speaking directly to the owner. You want them to want to work with you (return your phone calls, take you seriously, etc.). Here’s an example of how I’ve always presented offers in the past: “I think this is a great house (or apartment, or brownstone, etc.). I really love it. I know that the offer I’m making is below asking, but I want you to know that it is a serious offer. I have been pre-qualified for a mortgage and have retained a lawyer and so am prepared to go forward immediately. That all being said, I’d like to offer $XXX,XXX for your house.”
So make an offer! You’ll be surprised at the results. Thanks for reading, Jim.