Profile picture for user6333311

How Would You Proceed with this "Motivated" Seller?

We just sold our house and are looking to find a new one to move into.  We found a house we both like and fits our needs, but it is in nee of updating.  (Older couple owns it.)  When I first looked at the house, the realtor said the sellers were motivated.  The house is vacant, they are already living in a new townhouse they purchased, and the house has been listed for 200 days.  They have the house priced about $25k higher than its assessed tax value, and about $15k than we feel comfortable paying.  We offered them 89% their asking price to see where they stood.  It took them two days to counter with an amount that was about 1.5% off their asking price. We did not make a counter offer, as I was annoyed that they are being described as "motivated" and it took them two days to drop the house so little.  I just assumed they were not going to be willing to budge any on price like I thought I was being led to believe.  I told my wife we should just forget the house and move on.      We both really like the house.  Right now, in Dec-Jan, there doesn't seem to be a lot of good options for us.  Those who may be experienced with real estate, should we forget the house and just rent until more houses hit the market this spring (I'm afraid interest rates are climbing) or should we try again dealing with these sellers?  If we make another offer, any advice on approach?  Should I just say "This is the max amount I can offer--take it or leave it" 
  • January 05 2014 - US
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Answers (17)

A house is worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it and what a seller is willing to sell it for!  If they are able to let it sit on the market vacant that is their choice if they are not willing to accept less.  If you can afford to pay more and love this house than that is the price you are willing to pay for it!  I would encourage you to make another offer with the most you are willing to pay for the house, write a letter explaining your offer price and include what you love about it and then see what happens.  I hope you are successful in buying this house-good luck!
  • January 12 2014
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Profile picture for sunnyview
"Anyway, I took Kenny Roger's advice and walked away..."
LOL Thanks for the update. Just like Kenny you knew when to fold em and walk away. It's true that some are sellers by name only and don't really want to sell. I wish you success on your house hunt.
  • January 12 2014
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
Thanks for stopping by and updating us with the end of the story.

May all go well in your search.   From our experience, our ears are deaf to words such as "motivated". 
  • January 12 2014
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Profile picture for user6333311
Well, we're in a have-to-buy or have-to-rent situation.  I submitted another offer to the seller as a take it or leave it offer of my max amount I'd pay.  We really liked the house.  Great home plot in a good area, but it did need some updating and a major kitchen and 2nd bathroom overhaul.  I think the house is overpriced by $10k easily at $229k.  The "motivated" sellers had said they would take $226k, my take it or leave it offer was $218k, and they said no, they didn't really have to sell the house and didn't want to negotiate.  

So, I walked away.  That's it.  I understand sellers are in no way obligated to drop a penny in price, but I felt misled into looking at this house in the first place and making a couple of offers based on the fact that their realtor described them as motivated sellers.  A vacant house that's been on the market for 200 days and has sellers labeled as "motivated" would make most anyone think these people were ready to accept a fair offer.  Their realtor even said the $218 was a good offer and he felt good about it.  Which, that leads me to think the realtor is more motivated than the sellers are.  

I just feel like the realtor wasted a LOT of my time looking at the house twice, taking measurements and calculating costs to update it, having my realtor write up the offer, when in reality the owners are in no motivated desire to sell and even saying they don't need to sell it.  Very unprofessional, in my opinion.

Anyway, I took Kenny Roger's advice and walked away...
  • January 12 2014
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Profile picture for dylantanaka
Unless you "have to buy" you should offer your max price and walk away. They need you more than you need them. Then go and seek out private sellers who have houses that you like in the neighborhood you want. Start offering them your max buy price and you may find just the house you wanted whether it's listed for sale or not. You can knock on their door, write them a letter or hire an agent to call on them for you.
  • January 09 2014
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We all wish you well!
  • January 08 2014
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Profile picture for user6333311
Thanks for the feedback.  The market value of the house is tough to accurately assess.  It is one of about 20 homes on a dead end lane.  The sellers are the original owners, so there's no sale record.  Most of the houses are 20 to 40 years old, and only a couple have sold in the past decade.  PVA assessed values range from a few over $300k to a few about $160k and most between $180-220k.  The lane used to be rural, but in recent years an expanded road nearby and a few upper level neighborhoods are developing in what used to be farm land.  So for the older, established--and what started as more moderate housing--their actual market value is kind of speculative.

When a development of $300-400k houses springs up, how much value does that actually add to the houses across the other side of the road that were $160 homes prior to development?

Anyway, I submitted one more offer.  It is 2k under what my wife said she would go up to and 11k under their asking price.  Take it or leave it. The house appears to be very solid and maintained....just horribly outdated.  I've just decided me doing a lot of the work myself (which I have the skills and tools to do) will put us at the same investment pricepoint as if we'd have gotten the house at a price "motivated sellers' led me to think about. My preference would have been to get the house where we want it in 30 days through contracted work instead of 6 months me doing labor. 

My limited house hunting experience has led me to believe that it can be tough buying from an older couple who are the original owners of a home.  Have seen this with two other houses.  Too much imagined equity.

Anyway, yes, I have my own realtor submitting my offer to theirs.  
  • January 08 2014
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- The fact the REA said the seller "is motivated" means very little, especially since the house is already at 200 days-on-market. To me, "motivated" means the house starts off priced to move and would not still be available.

That deserves to be repeated!

- We offered them 89% their asking price to see where they stood.  It took them two days to counter with an amount that was about 1.5% off their asking price

Yes. You offered them 11% off, they came back with 1.5% off. 

- We both really like the house. 

And you can get it for 1.5% off. 

- Should I just say "This is the max amount I can offer--take it or leave it" 

Only if you are sincere about "leaving" it.
  • January 06 2014
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Profile picture for CallTheSisters
I agree with Scott below but I would take it one step further - have the contingency say that if the home does not appraise and the seller will not reduce they will reimburse you for your inspection fees AND the appraisal.

Are you dealing with the sellers agent or do you have your own buyers agent?  You should have your own agent and not go through a dual agent.
  • January 06 2014
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
a consumer perspective...

The first questions I would want answered are...
1 - What is the current average for DOM in your locale, and at what price ranges?
2 - What are recent comparable sales? Forget assessed tax value or what you are comfortable paying (unless, of course, the number you are comfortable paying is based on comparable sales).

The fact the REA said the seller "is motivated" means very little, especially since the house is already at 200 days-on-market. To me, "motivated" means the house starts off priced to move and would not still be available. Based on your description of the situation, that doesn't sound like the case.

At a certain level, I think that consumers spend too much time twisting themselves into pretzels trying to understand the motivation of other consumers. If you both like the house, go ahead and make what you feel is a reasonable counter. When the seller responds, assess their numbers and then determine if you want to accept the terms, continue negotiating, or move on. Try not to worry about how long it takes to get the response.

Good luck...
  • January 06 2014
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I would make an offer with the contingency that if the home does not appraise for the sales price, and the seller does not lower the price to match the appraisal, then the seller needs to reimburse you for the appraisal fee.
  • January 06 2014
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Profile picture for RealEstateCrew
Go with your gut, if you can rent and wait for additional offers and will still have the same buying power with rates increasing, then by all means rent and wait.  

If you believe this is the home for you, make sure the contract is contingent upon the appraisal and move forward with your highest and best offer.

If it works out, great, if it does not work out, look at other options. 
  • January 06 2014
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Profile picture for MADREstate
I would agree they are not as motivated as the Realtor said. As Wetdawgs stated. Has your Realtor given you a CMA, comprehensive market analysis on the home you made an offer on?  How does their data compare to the tax data you found?  If you didn't seem to like the Realtor you met with you can always try asking another one and see if what they are saying is reasonable. The Realtor you choose to work with should be on your side and help advise you when making your decisions.

Here in OK, the interest rates have increased a little depending on when you starting looking from 3.5% to 4.75%. Along with increased interest rates you may have increasing home prices to think about also.

Good luck.
  • January 06 2014
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Excuse me, hpvanc?

While I appreciate your placing my original statement in the pantheon of "cliches," you should back off and let the pros handle this one. Unless you mean to tell this buyer that even if they can find a better property for the price that they should buy this one instead.

This is how a market place works. You buy the best property within your budget, or you buy something else. Personally, I'd buy the best property - explain to 633x why they should settle for second best?



  • January 05 2014
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Profile picture for hpvanc
Don't offer more than you think it is worth to you period. Additionally from your description, vacant and on the market for more than 6 months, means you can't buy it anyway, the most likely scenario is if you meet their price you will find yourself trying to renegotiate when the appraisal comes in at significantly less than contract price and the seller will still believe it is worth what they are asking.

Hopefully if you opted to use a buyer's agent, you will get actual buying advice to protect your financial interests as a buyer, rather than the cliche sales pitch you received from the agent replying to this thread.
  • January 05 2014
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
A 1.5% drop when the house has been on the market for 200 days is not a "motivated seller".  

Tax value is not a good way (or better,,, is a lousy way) to identify the fair market value of the property.   Has your agent prepared a CMA to give you a better feel for the true market value of the property?   Evaluate the houses in the CMA carefully, are they similar condition?

My humble opinion is that many buyers put far too much weight on "updates".   The important question is whether or not the house is solid and systems functional.   Some friends updated their 1957 kitchen a few years ago at considerable expense.   The cabinet quality was much lower than the original cabinets IMHO.  If I were buying the house today, I would prefer the original cabinets which could easily have lasted another 50+ years.



  • January 05 2014
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My advice is this: if you can find a property that suits your needs better for the price, then buy THAT one, otherwise, pay the people what they want.

All the best,
  • January 05 2014
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