Negotiate Like Hell When Selling Your Home

by Kevin on March 16, 2011

On Monday I shared that we had accepted a low offer on our house and explained the reasoning behind why we accepted it. I wanted to talk about the negotiation process a bit in hopes that it might help one of my readers.

Expect the Lowball

As you try to sell your home in this real estate market, especially in this economy, you must anticipate getting a lowball offer. I must admit I was almost offended when we got the first offer because it was so low. I’m all for getting a deal, but the offer we received was where we would have had to bring thousands of dollars to closing to pay off our mortgage. And this is coming from someone who paid off his second mortgage and tried to set things right after putting little money down into the house.

I was almost offended… until my wife reminded me that we would be doing the exact same thing if we were buyers. If we were shopping for a home right now I would be throwing out ridiculously low offers all over the place in hopes of finding someone who is desperate to sell.

Just know going into it that you will get some crazy offers. Don’t panic!

Counter, Counter, Counter

Your first instinct when you get an extraordinarily low offer is tell the potential buyer to buzz off. That’s unwise — you’ve got someone that might be serious about owning your home.

For us this was the first offer we had received in over 4 months. We had enjoyed a lot of foot traffic, but foot traffic doesn’t sell your home. An offer sells your home.

No, instead of giving up at the first glimmer of a deal you take a deep breath and prepare to negotiate like crazy. Every little thing counts during a negotiation: what’s included in the offer, how quickly will the deal close, how likely is the deal to close (are they using crazy financing?), what are you responsible for, do you pay any closing costs on your end, etc.

We went through several rounds of counter offers. She still got a great deal and talked us down a bit, but negotiating hard literally saved us thousands of dollars. We’ll walk away from closing with a sizable check — just not as large as we would have liked.

What’s Included in an Offer?

As we went through the buyer offers, sellers counter offer, buyer counter offers the counter offer, and so on, it became clear to me that you’re not just negotiating the house. You’re negotiating the appliances, repairs, and maybe some patio equipment you left behind. Everything on the premises is up for negotiation.

This is absolutely key because you might get what you consider a great deal and lots of money… but¬†inadvertently give up thousands of dollars in appliances. Now that offer doesn’t seem so great.

Don’t Give Everything Away

Our buyer wanted us to include:

  • all appliances (washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, microwave, and dishwasher)
  • patio furniture that we used during staging and left behind

If you tally up what all of the appliances cost originally it would be well over $4,000. That’s a ton of money! Granted, the appliances are now 3 years old and would be worth less than that, but it is still a huge chunk of cash. We took really good care of our appliances and didn’t order base models from the clearance lot at the home improvement store. There’s some value in what is sitting in our home.

The urge to tell the buyer to go fly a kite came back, but we remained calm and continued to negotiate. We left everything but the washer and dryer and some miscellaneous stuff in the garage.

What to do with Negotiation Wins

As of now we’re slated to close toward the end of this month. We have a 3 year old front loading washer/dryer combo sitting in the house that is officially ours. The buyer doesn’t get it.

But we’re 6 hours away from the house at this point. I’m interested to know: what would you do if you were in our situation? I’ll share our plan on Friday, but we’re open to changing the plan. Leave your idea in a comment below and then come back to see what we decide to do.


Jackie March 16, 2011 at 7:51 am


We’re facing a similar situation with our home as well. Do we leave the W/D? They’re 3 years old – I’d like to take them. Our thought is we leave them in hopes that the new home we buy has a W/D.

We’re not desperate to sell but would like an offer and closing date by the fall so our children can start in their new school.

When we get an offer I know it will be a low ball offer – I just have to accept that fact. But I’m not leaving our TV’s.

Leave the W/D.

Thanks, Jackie.

D R @ Motivating Minutes March 16, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Depending on what type of vehicle you have I would go ahead and take the washer & dryer. If you have a hatchback and you’d have to rent a truck to take the combo I’d leave it though. Good luck negotiating.

John March 17, 2011 at 10:54 am

Tough call. It really depends upon what you have where you are living now and how much storage space you have. When we moved, I fully expected and intended to live in a townhouse/condo and have someone else take care of the snow blowing and lawn mowing, so I left the blower and mower in the offer. When we were looking for a place to rent, I was quickly outvoted (1 to 1) and we moved into a house that required me to do that stuff. We left all the appliances in the offer. The house we are looking at has appliances EXCEPT the w/d, but they are about 12-14 years old, so we plan to replace all.

Carly March 20, 2011 at 10:23 am

I’m from the Northeast, and am a little surprised to read all the Drama on the Appliances. It’s the standard here that “appliances go with the house”.

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