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If you’ve fallen in love with a house that needs repairs or remodeling, you might be able to convince the seller to lower the price. In some cases, however, that might not be possible or financially beneficial.

Are Repairs Necessary, or Do You Just Want the House Updated?
Whether the seller will be willing to lower the price will depend, in large part, on the types of repairs or renovations needed. If the house needs a new roof or has a cracked foundation, those repairs will be necessary to make the house safe to live in. On the other hand, if the kitchen and bathrooms are dated, any changes would be cosmetic and designed to meet your preferences, not to make the house safe or functional. The seller might be willing to make concessions for necessary repairs but tell you you’re on your own when it comes to cosmetic changes.

How to Handle Price Negotiations
If the house you want needs significant repairs, you’ll have to figure out approximately how much they would cost. You can have a contractor visit the house to inspect the damage and provide you with an estimate. You can then submit an offer that’s the difference between the list price and the estimated cost for repairs.

Be prepared for the seller to reject your offer. If a house needs major work to make it habitable, the seller most likely already knew that before putting it on the market. The owner’s real estate agent probably already took the cost of repairs into account when setting the list price. An inspection might uncover other problems the seller wasn’t aware of or didn’t take into consideration. In that case, you might be able to submit a lower offer based on the cost to fix those additional problems.

Is Negotiating a Lower Price the Right Move?
Convincing the seller to lower the asking price could lead to unintended consequences. A lender might not give you a mortgage for more than the sale price of the house. If you negotiate a lower price and get a smaller mortgage, you’ll need to find money for repairs elsewhere, after you’ve already forked over thousands of dollars for a down payment and closing costs. The seller might be willing to stick to the higher list price and make repairs before closing. That means you would have a larger mortgage that could be paid off over many years and wouldn’t need to worry about finding cash for repairs right away.

Seek Professional Guidance
If your dream home needs work, you might be able to negotiate a lower price. In some cases, however, that might not be possible or advantageous. Discuss any concerns about the house you have your eye on with your real estate agent, and ask for advice on how to proceed.

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