In hot markets and in slow markets, the goal of most homebuyers is to purchase a home at the best terms possible.  The buyers who are most successful at that are the ones who think like home sellers.


That’s because when you start to think like a seller, you start to understand the seller’s motivations.  The better you understand what the seller wants and needs, the easier it is for you to leverage that knowledge in your favor.


It’s common to assume the most important thing to the seller is price.  For sure, that’s high on most sellers’ priority lists.  However, let’s consider other options that, under certain conditions, may have equal or more weight than price.


Flexibility with closing date.


This can often be more important than price.  Sometimes the sellers want to be in their new home before the start of the school year, or maybe they want to stay in this home until the end of the current year.  Perhaps the sellers have already found their next home and are anxious to close on it, but can’t do so until the sale of their current house is final.  Or they may be building their next home, but it won’t be finished for several months.  There are all sorts of reasons for sellers to give preference to buyers who are willing to accommodate their time table.


Willingness to lease back to seller.


Some sellers can’t or don’t want to move during the typical time frame, however, they don’t want to delay closing because there’s a risk the buyer’s circumstances will change and they’ll pull out of the deal.  For those sellers, it’s highly preferable that the buyer’s be willing to close within the typical time frame, but will allow the sellers to stay in the house until their new home is ready.  In this case, a seller might accept a lower price in exchange for the buyer’s flexibility and willingness to lease the house back to them for a given period of time after closing.


A fast and certain closing.


Some sellers need to be elsewhere and they need to be there now.  Those sellers will give preference to a “sure thing” offer. Buyers who don’t have to qualify for financing and can close as soon as possible may be able to leverage that ability to get a better price in a buyer’s market, or to win the bidding war in a seller’s market.


Sparing the seller the hassle and cost of minor repairs.


Whether you’re moving out or moving in, it’s a stressful proposition.  There are all sorts of issues that need to be addressed.  For some seller’s, the number of items related to their relocation (and perhaps the start of a new job) that need attention are so high, they will jump at the prospect of working with a buyer who is willing to take their house “as is” so they don’t have to add making arrangements for several repairs to their already overwhelming to-do list.


Passing the baton to someone who will carry on a valued “tradition.” 


Some sellers have invested a lot of time and money in a special aspect of their home.  Maybe it’s a magnificent garden.  Perhaps a koi pond with a bevy of fish that have become special (but not easy to relocate) pets.  Those sellers may have a preference for buyers who have expressed a sincere appreciation for and interest in continuing to maintain this beloved feature of their home.


How do you know whether there are special circumstances that you can leverage to your advantage?  By asking questions.  If you have an agent representing you, hopefully s/he is asking the listing agent questions about what is important to the seller.  If not, encourage him to do so.  If you’re dealing with the seller directly, ask the same questions.  For example…


Where are you going? When do you need to be there?  What is your ideal closing date?  What will you miss most about this house?  Other than getting your asking price, what would make this move easier for you?


The more you know about the sellers’ motivations, the better your chance of structuring a winning offer that meets both yours and the seller’s needs.