Like any major purchase, buying a new condo involves a significant financial commitment. Obviously, no one wants to pay more than they have to. It's also nice if you can get a better deal than you originally expected. If you need to talk a seller down on price, be prepared with the right research.
Asking Price and Market Value
Enter into the negotiation armed with the seller's asking price as well as the previous selling price. County real estate records are the best and most accurate source for this information. You may be able to get these records online or at your local tax assessor's office. In addition, real estate websites may give you an estimated market value, and such an estimate can serve as leverage if the seller is highly motivated to sell the condo. Note that older sale prices are less relevant than newer ones because housing markets and values can change dramatically over time. If the home has sold in the last five years or so, the previous price provides useful information. But long-ago sales prices may have been influenced by factors that have no bearing in today's market.
Sale Price for Other Condos
Since condos are usually attached to other condos, the neighboring condos are an excellent source for getting information about your condo's value. Research the asking and selling price for other condos of a similar size to yours, particularly those in the same complex or in a nearby location. Use this information to help you negotiate a better price, particularly if the seller's price is well above what other condos are listed at or sold for. Real estate websites such as Trulia or Zillow offer information about the prices of similar condos.
The condition of the condo can significantly affect its value. If the condo hasn't been recently updated, or looks dated compared to similar condos in the complex, it should sell for a proportionally lower price. Showing the seller the selling price of more attractive condos, or getting an estimate on the work needed to make the condo livable, can help you negotiate a lower price.
Changes in the housing market itself can alter the value of the condo. If other nearby condos are foreclosing, many people are moving out of the area, or there are numerous vacancies, you may be able to negotiate a lower price. Likewise, if there are no other buyers or other buyers are offering a lower price than you, you can also get the seller to consider a lower selling price.
Negotiating the Deal
After you've gathered the information you need, it's time to begin negotiating. Negotiation is usually done through third parties such as real estate agents, but developing a rapport with the seller and negotiating in person can be effective in some cases. You'll need to judge whether it's right for your situation. Making an offer slightly below what you are willing to pay can help you negotiate because the seller may make a counter-offer to a price in line with what you want to pay. If the seller is unwilling to budge on price, you may be able to negotiate for other concessions such as repainting the condo, fixing a fence, installing new flooring or making other home improvements.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.