Negotiate Almost Anything When Buying a House
It's a buyer's market -- and home buyers can negotiate more than just the price of a house. When it comes time to sign a contract, you might be able to sweeten the deal by asking the sellers for certain provisions.
The May 2010 issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance has these tips:
Closing costs. Especially if you're a first-time buyer, you may have little cash left over to cover closing costs after you've forked over a down payment. Sellers in markets dominated by first-time buyers will expect to ante up, but probably not so much in move-up markets.
Points. You can ask the sellers to pay discount points on your mortgage, in effect paying some of your interest in advance. A single discount point equals 1% of your loan amount, and it typically reduces the loan rate by one-eighth of a percentage point. If you itemize deductions on your federal tax return, you can deduct the seller-paid points.
Closing date. You may want to close quickly or put off the date. After losing money on the sale of a condo in Boston and relocating to Coral Gables, Fla., John and Hillary Goldberg wanted more time to save for a bigger down payment on their next home. Their sellers agreed to allow them to rent the home for six months.
A delayed closing date can also be a powerful selling point if the sellers are stressing about their next purchase and move. You can delay your move-in date and rent back to the sellers so they have more time to close on their next home and don't have to move twice.
Repairs. Unless sellers are marketing their home in "as is" condition, they must usually pay to repair problems related to habitability (plumbing, wiring, essential appliances, and heating and air-conditioning systems). Otherwise, after a home inspection, you can negotiate for additional repairs.
For more tips on buying a home, see our guide to Buying & Selling a Home in 2010.