How can you sweeten an offer to make it more attractive to the seller, other than increasing the price?
Offer to pick up the cost of a fee/expense that is normally paid for by the seller.
e.g. Title insurance or other closing costs. If you cover these expenses instead of the seller, it will increase the sellers proceeds. This can amount to a few thousand dollars on an expensive property.
Amy has some good points there, my only problem is; I don't like to increase my (monetary) investment!
I usually look hard at the property and see if I can figure out exactly what it was about the place that I THINK was causing it NOT to sell, and try to turn that to my advantage. I realize that sometimes we can't figure that out very easily, but sometimes we can pick up hints.
Some examples of what I've done:
While "looking at" the high up shelves and other hiding places I "found" lots of past due notices from utilities, credit cards etc. I did some quick addition in my head, calculated a ZERO OUT price and offered a 5 day closing, no inspections, as is deal. He took it.
Saw one place where the only furniture in the house was a lawn chair, portable TV and a smaller bed than I had in my Air Force barracks. The Realtor said, "oh, it's a transfer, she's gone, he's waiting here to sell the house". I checked the court records, they had filed for divorce, I assumed the sale was causing the divorce to hang fire (this is a community property state), and made them a low ball/slightly less than ZERO OUT offer. The Realtor was sick of trying to move this place, and cut her commission to make it happen.
One place had a BUTT UGLY kitchen and a leaking roof. There were two quotes in the kitchen for fixing both. I pointed out that both seemed a bit low-ball but if he would take a net out that was based on roof and kitchen each costing 20% more, we'd take it.
In short order we replaced the countertops and floor (about $1,000), re-roofed in my spare mornings and weekends (about $800), and cleaned the carpet. IIRC we turned the place within a month but did replace the carpet, but we raised the price by 1/2 the carpet cost.
Generally pointing out what the seller already knows, and then offering to "eat" that item yourself is the least costly way to go.
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