At times during the negotiations, which took a little over a week and half, I was frustrated with the bank's seeming intentional disregard of the problems of the home they were trying to unload. Some facts:
- In better times, the value of this home was between $225k and $300k.
- The original list price by the bank was $179k.
- We made our offer six months or so later when it was listed at $119,900.
- In an area with very strict environmental laws, the home needs a new septic system on a lot too small for any leach field, thus holding tanks.
- The process to receive the variance for holding tanks takes 30-45 days, with an outcome that isn't guaranteed.
- The bank is very clear in all their documents that they know nothing and make no representations as to condition, and will pay for no repairs.
- We received some initial ballpark estimates for the septic work before our first offer.
That's the situation on the day we made our offer. There were no other offers out there, though the home was being shown a bit. It was in surprisingly good condition, requiring the addition of a heater for immediate occupancy if the septic was right. Let's walk through the process with the basic main points and items of importance:
- Offered $108,000 with 20% down financing.
- Contingent upon the granting of the septic variance.
- Contingent upon the seller paying $10,000 for septic installation before closing, as new lender was requiring that.
Those are the highlights of the offer, and it was pretty bold, as the home is a steal at the full asking price, even if the septic must be replaced after closing at the buyer's expense. However, this person did not have the cash to do that, so we needed it done by the seller, or at least financed in the price. We went through six counter offers with the following items of contention:
- Bank would only use their counter offer forms, reiterating every negotiation item in each one, computer generated.
- Bank wanted a closing date too soon to guarantee the variance could be approved and septic installed before closing, and they wanted $100/day from the buyer if we went past that date "at no fault of the seller."
- Their first counter iterated that they wouldn't pay for a survey, but would credit the buyer $1500 toward their closing costs.
- Their first counter offered to pay nothing toward the septic installation.
- Their first counter was at full list price of $119,900.
I won't go through every counter, but our negotiations centered around sale price, septic cost, survey/closing costs and the $100/day damages clause with the short period until closing. Every counter from us asked for more and to remove any payment of damages if the buyer couldn't get the items done in time due to delays at the county.
At the end, it took some creativity to get the deal done, and we did get the deal done. Here's the way we made our final counter, and they came back with an OK on it:
- Selling price to be $120,500, though we had during the process gotten them all the way down to $112,000. You'll see why.
- Seller will pay an up-front fee of $1500 to get the septic varianc process done.
- Seller will pay $10,000 for a new septic system.
- Seller will pay $500 toward buyer closing costs. And, closing date was extended.
As you can see, by sending our final counter to them with the sale price increased from $112,000 with almost no other concessions, we got them to take it and shell out $12,000. That's a net selling price of $108,500, but the buyer won't need any more cash than the 20% for down payment and other closing costs. It's a great deal for the client, who'll close on a home ready to live in with about $50k+ in immediate equity.
The point is to never quit with a bank. As long as they keep coming back with counter offers, you do the same. At some point, you'll make a deal, and it might be better than you ever expected.