Things you can negotiate when buying a home (besides money)

Buying a home is not a simple matter. Both the buyer and seller must agree to a number of different terms, work with several different professionals, and sign a large pile of paperwork. The complexity of a home sale can feel overwhelming, but it also means that you have lots of opportunities for negotiation.

The biggest and most obvious factor you can negotiate on when buying a home is the sale price of the property. This is far from the only negotiable term, though. You can improve the deal in a wide variety of ways, many of which don’t directly involve money. Here are seven things besides cost you can negotiate when buying a home:

1. Closing Date

There are plenty of reasons buyers look for a specific closing date. Maybe your current lease is ending soon and you need to move into your new home by a certain day, or maybe you’re moving a long distance for work and are locked into a specific time frame. Regardless of why you want to negotiate the closing date, this might be something the sellers are willing to be flexible with.

Closing faster can also offer you some peace of mind. Buying a home involves a lot of moving pieces, and arranging everything is stressful. The uncertainty in the time between your offer being approved and the close of escrow can be uncomfortable, especially if there’s a chance that the sellers will back out of the deal. By setting your date sooner rather than later, you reduce the amount of time you have to live in a state of uncertainty.

2. Contingencies

Contingencies are actions that must be completed or conditions that must be met in order for the sale to finalize. In many real estate transactions, the buyers negotiate contingencies regarding the home inspection, repairs, or appraisal. However, you can request any number of conditions when you negotiate. For example, you might ask for a title contingency, which gives you the right to walk away from the sale if there are issues with the title that can’t be resolved.

3. Inspection and Repairs

Although an inspection isn’t always mandatory before buying a home, it is absolutely critical to work with an inspector before the sale closes. There are countless issues a home might have that aren’t noticeable to the layperson, and buying a home only to discover costly repairs or unsafe living conditions is a homeowner’s nightmare.

For most home sales, the buyer pays for the inspection. This is negotiable, though. You and the seller can negotiate who pays the inspector as well as when the inspection happens and what exactly the inspector will look for. A thorough inspection is necessary for a transparent sale, so be cautious if the sellers seem like they want to forego or delay the inspection.

Once the results of the inspection are in, you can also negotiate who funds any needed repairs. Sometimes, the seller pays for the repairs before the sale closes. Other times, the cost of the work is deducted from the sale price. Many buyers prefer for the seller to take care of the repairs as this leaves you with one less thing to worry about when you move in.

4. Home Warranty

A home warranty covers the cost of repairs for major appliances and systems if they break or wear out after purchasing the home. Virtually every component of a home has a finite lifespan, so at some point, you should expect to pay for some repairs. When this happens shortly after buying the home, it can be a serious financial burden.

Asking the seller to cover the home warranty is one of the most common negotiations. Even if you don’t expect any problems in the home for the first few years of ownership, negotiating on the warranty can provide you with much-needed peace of mind.

5. Appliances

It’s typical for sellers to leave the refrigerator, washing machine, and dryer in the home. You should always clarify before closing which appliances will stay, though, as this could be negotiable. Maybe you could increase the value of your offer in exchange for the appliances, or you could adjust one of your contingencies to be more favorable for the seller.

You could also negotiate having the appliances removed. If you plan to buy new ones or bring the appliances from your old home, you can ask the seller to remove the current items before closing. This can save you time, effort, and money.

6. Furniture

In most cases, sellers don’t leave any furniture behind. However, if you think certain pieces work perfectly in the home, you could include furniture or decor as part of your negotiation. Like with appliances, you can either factor this into the sale price or negotiate with the seller on other terms to compromise.

7. Leaseback

A leaseback is an agreement in which the seller leases the property from the new owner after the sale is complete. This can be ideal for sellers who are waiting to finalize the purchase of their new home or who simply need more time to vacate the property. If possible, offering the seller a leaseback for a month or two could be a great way to negotiate on other terms of the sale.

There are benefits for the buyer, too. If the seller can’t hand the home over to you immediately, you may have no other options but to wait until they’re ready. With the leaseback agreement, you don’t have to worry about the sale falling through. You’re not living in the home yet, but you know that it’s yours.

Negotiating during a home sale can be difficult, especially if you don’t have much experience. Think about what terms or conditions are most important to you, and consider what you’re willing to sacrifice to meet your priorities. Take plenty of time, and don’t rush into any agreements based on stress or emotion. Most importantly, work with a realtor or financial advisor you trust while you and the seller negotiate the details of the transaction.