How to get a good deal on a house

We live in Auckland, home of the million-dollar average house price.  Recently, the market has gone off the boil, in fact, one could say it’s a waning market.  Sellers are bullish, but buyers are refusing to pay ridiculous prices.  Enough is enough is the sentiment!

While I can’t promise you a golden goose in any market, I’m going to share a few hot tips on getting the best price on a house.

I draw from my own experience in trawling the streets for nine months before buying a functional three bedroom, brick and tile unit with an internal access garage that Dad said ticked all the boxes.  With 0 character and all the practicality a pensioner would need, pink carpet with matching doorknobs was one of my many concessions.

My first advice to you is, take off those rose-tinted glasses. If you want a good deal, you’re not going to buy your dream home.  Keep your emotions in the closet.

Getting the best home deal can be whittled down to four essential strategies:

  1. Research, research and research that area

While ‘analysis paralysis’ is counter-productive, researching property is a different story…the more the better.  Choose an area where you want to live and a couple of suburbs outside of this.  Trawl those Trade Me and Real Estate listings.

Keep a spreadsheet and list every house you visit, recording basic information such as bedrooms, section size, location and CV.  When the place has sold, call the agent and ask for the sale price.  Do this religiously for three to six months.

Too many people say “It’s so tiring looking at houses, we just want to find one.” These aren’t the words that come out of a property poacher’s mouth.  Go hard or go home.  You want to be able to tell the agents what’s sold in the area for what price, not the other way around.

  1. Put in cheeky offers

Once you’re abreast of what’s been happening in the market, you’ll be a walking encyclopedia of house prices.  You want to know more than the average agent.  But information is power, so don’t go spouting off the price to everyone.  Pull it out at the right time, that is, when you put an offer in.  Set a figure, of say 10-15% less than what you think it’s worth.  Recite examples of properties, preferably ones that support your lighter price!.

Don’t show all your cards at once!  In an uncertain market, most aren’t sure  what they want to pay, so the sales process becomes a copy-cat game.  He/she thinks it’s worth that it must be.  So if I pay $20K more, I’ll get it.  No!  Go in with a low-ball offer.  Get in before the auction date, within the first week of open homes, while agents are ‘gathering feedback’.  Find out if there’s a motivation to sell.

  1. Give ‘em a deadline

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to make the auction, so your offer has to be presented early.  This will hopefully knock out a couple of the competition who are arranging finance or dithering over what it’s worth.

I repeat, never get emotionally involved.  You can like a property, love it in fact, but don’t let the feelings of owning it infiltrate your dreams. If you miss out on this one, there’ll be something even better.  Trust me!

  1. Work those agents, but keep your cards close to your chest

Agents are there to sell houses.  Sadly, as much as you think so and so is your new best friend, they really aren’t.  If you gad about, swaggering with cash and unconditional dollar signs, you may be flavour of the month.  But rather than them using you for their next commission cheque, a smart buyer will use them to their advantage.

Milking them for information about their latest listings, getting the first viewing opportunity, reminding them of their obligation to ‘present all offers’, these are hardly perfect conditions for people pleasing behaviour.

A word of advice.   If you want an agent to help you bag their new listing, make it friendly, be in their face, but keep your cards close to your chest. Knowledge is power and if no one knows your limit, there’s more room for negotiation.

Getting a home in the Auckland market can be achievable.  Around every street corner, there’s a motivated seller and there’s you, the educated, discerning buyer.  Armed with your own research, you are better equipped to know what represents good value and present your offer with confidence, remembering that firm deadline.  Not disclosing your final price to the agent is key to retaining power in the negotiation, as is remembering that you’re not in it to make friends.

Get out there and secure that pink carpet investment.  Armed with market knowledge and a wee bit of grit, that house that you’ve worked so hard for, the one the agents told you doesn’t exist for that price, will be yours!