Buyers must bargain more, says Geffen

If you're a homebuyer now, you should be honing your haggling skills.

That's the word from Lew Geffen, chairman of Sotheby's International Realty in SA, who says that sellers know that there is much more stock on the market for buyers to choose from now, and that those who are genuinely intent on concluding a sale will be open to offers.

Further advice to buyers in the current market, he says, is to change the dynamics of the past few years and sell their existing properties before they go hunting for a new one. "There are great opportunities to upgrade at the moment but it is important to secure your own sale, and know just how much you can spend, before you go shopping for a new home.

"What is more, you will be better received as a buyer if you can make your offer to purchase without any strings attached."

And, Geffen says, buyers can strengthen their bargaining position even more by getting pre-qualified for a home loan through their mortgage originator. "At this stage, with the proceeds of your own sale in hand and your financing lined up, you are the picture of a serious buyer, and the seller should be much more willing to make concessions to you than to someone who still has to sell their property and still has to establish whether they can obtain a home loan.

However, buyers should be careful not to get hung up on price to the exclusion of other considerations. In fact, they should be even more diligent about area research and home inspections than before, says Geffen.

"There may be more choice and it may be easier to buy now, but there is also a lot of second-rate stock on the market and your objective should still be to get the best value for money in the best area that you can afford."
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