3 min read

Having to negotiate with a home seller isn’t a bad thing, unless you let your emotions cloud your judgement. Don’t let negotiations get away with you. You want the best deal you can get, but push too hard and you could lose your dream home to a less pushy buyer waiting in the wings! Here are our negotiation do’s and don’ts. 

The “Do’s” for negotiation

Feeling like the seller can sweeten the deal a little? Here’s what you should go for in negotiations.

Closing costs

Closing costs can be hefty: up to 2% to 5% of the sale price of the home. If you can get the seller to pick up some or most of these costs, you can roll that extra cash on your side into more purchasing power. Ask about a seller’s credit – unless you are buying a luxury home at a high price pint in a competitive market. Then the listing agent and seller might start to think you aren’t in a position to qualify for the home.

Furniture in the home

Did you walk through the home with furniture in place and just love the interior design? Ask the seller if they are willing to let the furniture come with the house. Large pieces that might not fit in the seller’s new home could be a good starting point, so zero in on things like the pool table in the basement, the pit couch in the den, and the formal dining room set or master bedroom suite. 

Closing timeline

If you are preapproved, and have a home inspector lined up (or have arranged for a preispection), you may be able to offer a quicker closing. As long as your timeline is reasonable and poses no risk on your end, you can leverage this for seller credits or a lower purchase price. This usually has more chance of working if the market is slow and the seller needs to move out of state.  

The “Don’ts” for negotiation

Knowing when to rein in your negotiator impulses can save a home sale. Here’s when you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Pushing boundaries

If the seller keeps saying yes, don’t think that it’s time to go for broke and make even more demands. This can wind up with a straw breaking the camel’s back as the seller gets fed up and walks away rather than deal with you any more. Make your list ahead of time, note privately what you’re willing to let go of, and present your list to the seller as a one and done deal. Once they agree, don’t come back asking for more. 

Bad faith 

Lowball offers just to “test the waters” might make you feel tough, but they can be insulting to a seller who knows their home’s worth. Even if they are desperate to sell, insulting them with a ridiculous offer isn’t going to do you any favors. Play fair and be straight with your offer.

Tiny increases in your offer

Unless you’re in a bidding war with many other people, escalating your offer in tiny bites can be extremely annoying. Make your offer, know in advance what your maximum is, and have no more than two secondary offer points between those two figures. 


A “take it or leave it” answer if a seller tries to negotiate back can lead to a hard pass response and the seller shutting you down. You can be firm in your offer without being a snob about it. If your offer is the best you can do, express your regret that things didn’t work out and leave on amicable terms. Who knows, they might come back after finding out there are no better bids on the table.

Negotiations are sensitive things. Don’t make the house a hostage. Instead, have honest, transparent conversations and see if you can work towards a solution that benefits everyone. 

View loan limits in your area

Rates & Money is your go-to destination for free information about mortgages. Our home buyer guides and home loan articles are designed to help you make informed decisions when buying a home


Additional Free Tools

Use our free mortgage calculator tools to estimate your monthly mortgage payments based on your unique loan scenario. See how your monthly payment changes by making updates to your home price, down payment, interest rate, and loan term.

Stay informed with what's important to you

Subscribe for Notification

Notification popup

Selected options