Keep calm and let your agent do the talking

Contrary to popular belief, the “bottom line” in contract negotiations is often actually not the bottom line, especially in real estate.

“When selling a home, for example, the price to be paid is usually the major consideration, but it is worth noting that sale agreements can and regularly do fall apart when parties fail to agree on non-price terms of the contract,” says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group.

This means that even if you receive a quick offer to purchase at a satisfactory price, there is still a lot for your agent to negotiate with the prospective buyer to ensure a successful sale, including:

* The amount and availability of any cash deposit;

* The time limits on any suspensive conditions regarding the buyer’s need to obtain a home loan or to sell another property;

* The arrangements for various compliance certificates to be obtained and paid for;

* The date of occupation by the buyer and/ or continued occupation by the seller during the transfer process; and

* The amount of any occupational rent to be paid by either party.

“Then there’s also the question of whether the bank evaluation of the property will confirm the asking price, and that of which fixtures/ fittings the seller will have to leave in place or be entitled to remove,” he says.

Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, Everitt also notes that as a seller, you will naturally be inclined to resist – for financial or other reasons – whenever a buyer asks for any kind of concession.

“And if you can’t agree, it won’t really matter whether the sticking point is one of ‘principle’ or one of ‘pride’ – it will just be all too easy for the atmosphere to become heated, and for an item as minor as a leaky tap to become a complete deal-breaker.

“This is because most owners have an emotional attachment to their properties that can make them defensive when even minor problems are pointed out, while most buyers are determined to find leverage to lower the sale price – or at least get sellers to cover the costs of any repairs they regard as necessary.”

What is more, he says, the number of potential stumbling blocks is vast, while it is actually very rare for any buyer to offer the full asking price, “which is why it is always best for sales to be negotiated by a third party – a qualified and experienced estate agent who is able to stay calm and focus only on achieving an agreement that satisfies both buyer and seller”.

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