Home sellers have been reaping the rewards as home values have risen over the past couple years. However, they may have been leaving money on the table. You can negotiate more than just price when selling your home. When you negotiate all the right pieces to the transaction, you will net more money in your pocket at closing.
Houses have practically been selling themselves. That's not to say that a real estate agent's services aren't important. In fact, an experienced and knowledgeable real estate agent can help you negotiate many pieces of the real estate transaction to net you more money. However, you may be able to negotiate the commission amount the real estate brokerage wants to charge you. Commission can be a percentage of the sales price or a set amount of money. If you are selling a home on the lower price end, your agent may not be able to give you a discount. If you are selling a home that is higher in price, your agent may be able to give you a half or full percent off of their commission. For example, if you are selling a $200,000 home and the brokerage charges you a six percent commission fee, you will pay $12,000 in commission. If you are selling a $600,000 home, that six percent commission becomes $36,000. In this case, if you asked your real estate agent for a half or full percent discount, you would now pay $30,000 or $33,000 in total commission. Remember, commission is split between the listing brokerage and the selling brokerage, so the entire commission doesn't go to your real estate agent's brokerage. Also, your real estate broker typically gets only part of the listing broker's commission.
Sellers have to pay the title company for their services and for a seller's title insurance policy. It doesn't hurt to ask for a discount. If you haven't owned your house for very long, the title company may have to do a shorter title search which isn't as much work and shouldn't cost as much as a full title search. If you have used the title company before, ask for a discount for repeat services.
If you live in a state that uses real estate attorneys, ask your attorney to negotiate her fees. Many attorneys charge by the hour. However, most real estate attorneys charge a flat fee for their services to represent you from contract date to closing date. An article published on May 31, 2022 on homelight.com, written by Stacy Sare Cohen and Christopher Rogacz, The Seller's Guide To Real Estate Attorney Fees is a thorough guide to what services real estate attorneys provide and how their services are charged. The article quotes a New York real estate attorney, Stephen Donaldson, "The cost for real estate attorney fees is based on geographic location, the attorney's level of experience, type of services rendered, and the complexity of your real estate transaction." If your real estate transaction goes smoothly and the attorney doesn't have to put in too many hours, ask for a discount in fees.
Be sure to negotiate the closing date that is the most convenient for you. If you are vacating your home too much earlier than the agreed-upon closing date, you are still financially responsible for all utilities, taxes, home maintenance and so on. In addition, the longer a home sits vacant, the more chance of problems since no one is present at the property to catch any issues that may arise.
Even though home values have been rising, be smart and put more money into your pocket by negotiating some of the other parts of the real estate transaction. You will be glad you did.