Archive for Negotiating


Make Your Offer Irresistible

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You’ve found it, THE PERFECT apartment.  You want it; it’s going to be yours.  Or is it?  Here’s a few tips to increase your chances of being able to sign on the dotted line.

  • Pay cash.  Sellers love all cash offers because they are less likely to fall through at the last minute.  If you need a mortgage, a low appraisal could sink your chances, and cause you to lose your deposit.
  • Get pre-approved.  If you have to get a mortgage, make sure everything is up to snuff with your credit.  Get the letter from the lender saying you’re pre-approved.  While it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the loan, it shows that the lender has verified your income and credit score and determined that you can afford the payments on a mortgage at a certain amount.
  • Make your best offer.  In today’s market you may only have one shot, so make it your best offer.
  • Up the ante.  Add an escalator clause, with which you agree to increase your offer is there is a higher bid from another buyer.  Remember, if you agree to pay more than the market value (appraisal), you’re on the hook for the difference, whether or not the mortgage will cover it.
  • Increase your earnest money.  This shows how serious you are.  If you back out of the contract for any reason allowed in the contract or state law, you could get your money back.
  • Pay for extras yourself.  Offer to pay some of the closing costs or other prepaid costs.
  • Make contingencies easy to handle.  Sellers usually prefer no contingencies, but buyers need the protection contingencies provide if they need to cancel the contract.  Use your pre-approval and strong earnest money deposit to take the sting out of a financing contingency.  Seek the advice of your broker to help you determine what will help.
  • Write a letter to the seller.  This will help you connect with the sellers.  Make points like “We especially love…” and “We appreciate…”
  • Work with the seller’s timetable.  Express your willingness to go to closing on the seller’s schedule.

Inspired by Chicago Tribune article


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It’s a Seller’s Market – Every Minute Counts!

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With all cash offers becoming the norm, open houses packed to the gills, bidding wars, and some listing prices actually rising, there’s little doubt in New York City that it is a seller’s market.   The rules of engagement have changed.  Serious buyers need be prepared to act quickly.  Know what you want and strike while you can.  All cash offers help a lot since sellers are choosing offers with the least amount of hassle.

Recently, fewer apartment listings – down 27.6% last month over a year ago – and low interest rates have increased competition among buyers and driven up prices.  Add to that, listings going into contract faster, and the pressure is on to decide and act on the apartment of your dreams.

Some tips to help you get the perfect place:

Automate Your Search:   Websites like and eliminate some of the work, and will allow you to save searches and receive emails with new listings that meet your requirements.

Don’t Wait for the Open House:  Schedule a showing during the week before the first open house if at all possible.  If you wait until the open house, there is a good chance you may not even get a chance to make an offer.

Forget About Getting a Deal:  If this is THE apartment for you, make your best and final up front.  Let the seller know you are really serious.  Consider making the offer with a 24 hour ending time.

Don’t Delay:  Being the first to make a solid offer can give you an edge.

Be Thorough:  Have your financial statement prepared and ready to go, a short personal biography and anything else your broker recommends to put you in a strong position.

Increase Your Down Payment:  The standard 20% down is very old school.  Most brokers are recommending 30% to 35% down.  Appraisals are lagging behind asking prices because they are based on past sales.  If the appraisal comes in low, the bank will not lend more than the appraised amount, so buyers need to have cash to make up the difference.  A larger down payment can give you the edge in multiple bid situations, as well as make you look stronger to a co-op board.

Beware of Mortgage Contingencies:  Fewer sellers are willing to accept contingencies, and the buyers may be desperate enough to waive the contingency and risk losing their deposit.  But beware; if you don’t have cash to cover your losses, it’s not really a good idea to give in to the pressure.  If the appraisal comes in low, or the bank finds a deficiency with the building and won’t lend you the money, you could lose your deposit without the contingency.

Negotiate the Contingency:  Get your broker to help you structure the contingency so that it is attractive to the seller, but protects your interests.

Set Your Ultimate Price:  Decide what your number is, and be prepared to walk away.  This way, hopefully you’ll be able to sleep at night.

Sign Your Contract Quickly:  Today’s sellers get impatient when buyers take too long with their due diligence and negotiations.  A contract isn’t binding until it is signed.


Inspired by New York Times article


Sorry says the Board: The Price isn’t Right

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Manhattan buyers and sellers have known for years that the real estate market has its share of challenges.  Co-op boards, who can reject applications for many reasons, are now rejecting sales if they think the price is too low in order to protect the property values in the building.

Buyers undergo intense scrutiny during the co-op application process, including providing volumes of financial and personal history, even references for their pets.  Co-op boards can reject an application for almost any reason, and they are not required to state the reason.

Some boards are determined to maintain the value of the building even if it means rejecting serious buyers.  Sellers want to sell their apartments, and buyers are determined to get a good deal or not overpay for the apartment.   Lawyers are fielding phone calls from boards and purchasers seeking legal advice.

For those outside the New York City area, this is astonishing since co-ops are rare.  But in New York City, where co-ops make up about 75% of the housing stock in Manhattan, this is a way of life.  Brokers are becoming accustomed to brokering deals where the contract price would be acceptable to a board, but the seller gives concessions like splitting the flip tax or paying for renovations as part of the contract.

Sometimes the board will reach out to the broker or individuals involved and let them know what the sticking point before flat out rejecting the application.  However, when a board is unwilling to approve based on low price, they run the risk of being considered a difficult board causing people to shy away from the building; or miss the clues that a seller might be in distress and default on the maintenance charges if unable to sell, putting the building in a tough financial situation.

A good broker will be able to negotiate the ins and outs of a board package, explain the pitfalls and advantages, and advise you on what position you should take.  Manhattan real estate is unlike real estate any other place in the world.  Having a broker by your side who knows their market is an asset to your team.


Inspired by New York Times article

In this buyers’ market when negotiating for a Manhattan co-op, condo or townhouse, having flexibility with regard to the date of closing  (some sellers may want to close later rather than sooner depending on their circumstances)  AND having cash (something I call FLASH) you will surely get you the best deal.

With regard to financing, many buyers and sellers believe that the purchase of a coop, condo or townhouse in Manhattan will either have or not have financing contingency.  But there are actually three options when it comes to the loan financing provision.

The latest version, the co-op contract spells out these options and allows the attorneys to choose one of them. Although the standard condo and townhouse contract forms do not contain a similar provision, an experienced attorney could add it into a rider.

The options are as follows:

#1 Contract contingent upon purchaser obtaining a loan/financing commitment

#2-Contract NOT contingent upon purchaser obtaining a loan/financing commitment, but purchaser may use loan financing to complete the transaction

#3 purchaser may NOT use loan/financing (i.e. must all cash and can’t have a loan)

The existence of #3 is particularly important not only in today’s lending environment, but to leverage maximum negotiability.  When placing an all cash offer the seller will want to know that it is, in fact, ALL CASH and that the purchaser will not even apply for financing.

This post was taken from a tip written by Alex Suslensky, Esq. and published in PDE Title’s Spring Newsletter. PDE Title is a Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate company.


Kids + Cribs = Motivated Apartment Sellers

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Let’s face it, this is probably the worst time to sell an apartment in Manhattan. This is very good news if you are a buyer.

Virtually all apartments currently on the market-especially during the holiday season- are placed there by motivated sellers rather than sellers just testing the waters. One of the most powerful motivators for sellers is their kids. Kids here or on the way.  I call it the crib effect.

As a buyer, keep your eyes open for bedrooms, alcoves or even closets with kids’ paraphernalia. Especially cribs. Quietly make note and negotiate accordingly.

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Buyers who can pay in full in cash for their co-op or condo apartments are in the driver’s seat.  Right now, being able to offer a seller a sure thing – with no surprises on the way to closing – will go a long way to assuring you of negotiating the best possible deal.

Pair some flexibility with cash, and you’ve got the magic ingredients of what I call FLASH.  Being flexible means being open to the seller’s needs in terms of setting the closing date – being ready to close immediately or allowing ample time for the seller to find a new home rather than demanding a quick move – offering to take care of needed repairs or accommodate the start of a school year.   With FLASH, you’ll find that the door to your new home is open, ready and waiting.

If you’re like most people – who can’t afford a full-cash sale – you can still find yourself in the “most attractive buyer” finals.  If you have great credit and can put down at least 20% on a jumbo conforming mortgage (up to $729,750 in New York), or at least 30% for higher mortgages, you’ll still set setting hearts aflutter.  Pre-qualifying for an adequate mortgage is a fabulous move to round out your VIP buyer profile