Dogs playing tug of war - words seller concession, buyer concessionWhat is a seller concession? This refers to anything that the seller gives or grants to the buyer. Sellers are not the only ones who can grant concessions, but right now it’s in the news more due to changes underway in how we sell real estate and the forms and clauses we use to do so.

Concessions are a normal part of negotiation. Most of the time, both sides concede something in the arena of price and terms. In a sense, it’s a bit like tug of war in that both sides want the best price and terms, but most of the time the negotiation is a little give, a little take, unless there are a lot of multiple offers.

Seller concession examples

A good example of a seller concession would be accepting a price less than the list price. The seller concedes the desired price.  A concession can be about money, time, inclusions, or any number of things.

Other home seller concessions might include:

  • accepting an offer with a contingency, or some contingencies
  • home owner agreeing to pay for a home warranty
  • providing a credit to help with the buyer’s closing costs (if there’s a lender involved, there may be limits to that credit)
  • paying the buyer’s agent’s fee as outlined in the buyer representation agreement (there’s a box to check in the contract)
  • allowing a longer close of escrow than typical if the buyer requests it (perhaps to close escrow on their current home)
  • leaving personal property, such as the washer, dryer, and fridge – or patio furniture, a pool table, a TV, etc.
  • permitting a longer than typical timeframe to meet buyer’s needs for contingency removal or depositing money to escrow (we have run into religious reasons for this to be requested)
  • granting access to the home for visits beyond the typical 17 days
  • agreeing to remove a fixture that the buyer does not want
  • making repairs prior to close of escrow (termite work, roof leaks, or anything else that the buyer asks and the sellers agrees to cover)
  • with buyers of homes in common interest developments, sometimes the seller only orders the bare minimum, legally required HOA documents – if the buyer requests newsletters or other non-required items and the seller pays for and provides them, that’s another seller concession
  • the seller could agree to pay points on the borrower’s mortgage – this would also be a seller concession

 

Buyer concessions

Buyers sometimes make concessions, too. Some of the buyer concessions that we’ve seen included these:

  • waiving some or all contingencies
  • signing off on price or terms in a counter offer
  • agreeing to a rentback
  • permitting the seller to leave behind things that normally would be removed
  • accepting more restricted access than is typical in escrow
  • paying fees that traditionally would be covered by the seller
  • taking on unusual tasks (once I had a seller who fed feral cats, and the buyers wrote in their offer that they would continue to do so)
  • agreeing to a shorter or longer close of escrow to meet the seller’s needs
  • accepting the seller’s pre-sale inspections and not getting any new ones in escrow
  • accepting the seller’s counter offer price if it’s higher than the price the buyer initially offered
  • sometimes the seller has a contingency (example, a short sale requires a contingency that the bank approve the sale, or if there is a seller contingency to find a replacement property) and that would be a concession also

 

For example, the California Association of Realtors has a boilerplate 17 days for access to the property. The seller might counter offer that since they are living in the home, they want that access restricted to 5 or 10 days. If the buyer agrees, that’s a concession. Or a seller may say “this weekend we have family visiting, please do not come to the house on the weekend” and if the buyer agrees, that’s a concession.

If the seller is elderly, sometimes buyers will allow the seller to leave behind debris. For older sellers with unwanted items in sheds, in the garage rafters, or other places, removing those items can be a big hassle. That kind of buyer concession can sweeten the deal in multiple offers and appeal to sellers wondering how they are going to get it all done in time.

We have at times seen strategic concessions offered to effect an outcome that is favorable to both. For instance, we have seen some buyers offer to pay all commissions and request a lower sale price. The net to the sellers may be the same. That may be done for property tax reasons (and it could backfire – the county tax assessor’s office may revise the assessment later), or in San Jose to keep the sale price from going over $2 million since at that point a second transfer tax kicks in, thanks to Measure E.

Also seen are longer rent back periods if the new owner doesn’t need to move in immediately but the seller wants to find the next place before moving out. Sometimes this kind of buyer concession can sweeten the deal such that it’s a tipping point in their favor in multiple offer situations.

A word of caution on buyer or seller concessions: as with all negotiations, it’s important to understand what the other side wants. If asking for too much, it can blow up the deal by angering the other side such that they don’t want to work with you at all. I once heard of a buyer offer in which they requested that the seller’s dog stay with the property. Needless to say, that didn’t go over well, and the sellers apparently refused to sell to those buyers at any price. Let common sense prevail!

 

 

Related Reading

Play the Field and Lose the Game: Work With Just One Realtor (on popehandy.com)

What makes an offer lowball? (this site)