What Not to Say to a Sellerís Agent
Open houses are a great chance to see if a home is the right fit for you. You can peer inside closets, get a feel for the flow of the layout, and asses the curb appeal—just make sure that while you’re learning more about the home, you’re not revealing too much about yourself to the seller’s agent hosting the open house.
A seller’s agent is working to get top dollar on the sale of the house for the homeowners, as well as for themselves because they receive a commission on the sale. To ensure you don’t give them extra leverage during negotiations if you put an offer on the house, here’s what you need to avoid revealing.
How perfect the house is for you
“What do you think?” is a common question from agents hosting an open house. And while it’s OK to give a polite, general answer (e.g. “We can tell the homeowners put thought and care into the landscaping.”), revealing what aspects of the house you’ve fallen in love with could jeopardize your chances to negotiate the final sales price
Instead of gushing about the features you like, ask questions about them: When was the kitchen renovated? Is the roof new? Was extra soundproofing put between the floor and ceiling when the basement was refinished? Now you’ll be more informed should you make an offer on the house.
When you need to move
This is another piece of information that could be used to push you to pay a higher price. If the sellers know you are working with a short timeline and are in a pinch, they will hold out for the highest possible price and may be less likely to negotiate on ancillary closing costs.
Instead, ask if the homeowners are motivated to sell, how long the house has been on the market, and if they’ve had other offers. Keep the ball in your court by learning as much as you can about the seller and home. It would be better for you to find a home that’s under a time crunch to sell—then you have the upper hand when it comes to negotiating price!
How much you have to spend
The range and flexibility of your budget is for your eyes and ears only—well, and the agent representing you. You may be thrilled to learn the house you’re touring is well under budget, but don’t share that with the listing agent. If they know you have more to spend, they may increase the price. It also puts you at a disadvantage if the home inspection turns something up and the sellers believe you can pay for the original asking price and the cost to fix the problem.
Personal details about why you’re looking to buy
Like the previous information regarding your budget and timeline, keep other personal details close to your chest. It may feel natural to mention your recent promotion or job transfer, if you’ll soon be expanding your family, or if an elderly parent will be living with you, but what these details really tell the agent is that you have additional money to spend, that you’re under a time restriction, or that the house fits your unique needs unlike others on the market. These details, too, can be used to ensure you pay the highest price possible for the home.
Any financial difficulties you have
Sellers should view you as a serious buyer, but telling them about a past bankruptcy, a low credit score, or your current amount of debt might cause them to dismiss you—and your offer. If you and your lending institution have agreed a house is within your budget through a mortgage prequalification, then you don’t need to share any more financial details with the seller.