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September 25, 2021

Buying a home: how to negotiate the buying price

  Compiled by myLIFE team myHOME February 8, 2021 61

Recognising the margin for negotiation and successfully making use of it

If demand is significantly greater than supply, buyers are more likely to be at a disadvantage when negotiating prices. This is a fact. This imbalance very much gives sellers the upper hand here on the Luxembourg property market. So anyone wishing to negotiate a lower purchase price needs to have a sound argument and employ the right tactics. Such negotiations need to be properly thought out and well prepared.

The first step is to get a detailed overview of the market. Make a comparison of the type of property – house, flat or plot of land – with similar properties in the area that are advertised in the newspaper or online. It is also a good idea to approach local authorities or real estate agents directly. It is worth knowing market dynamics, prices per square metre and land values so that you can enter into negotiations with realistic purchase offers. There are a number of useful tools available on the internet that you can use to obtain a more accurate calculation of a property’s value.

It comes down to three factors

The following three factors basically determine the price and margin for negotiation: the property’s location, type and condition.

“Geographical location is the deciding factor” – these words of estate agent wisdom still ring true today. This means that for a property in Luxembourg City or in one of its neighbouring municipalities, there is very little room for manoeuvre in negotiations, especially compared to a property located in the north of the country. While the average gap between the listing price and the actual sale price is around 15% nationally, there is practically no chance of making a successful bid in Luxembourg City with an offer below 5% of the listing price. Let’s talk about prices: Bertrange is the most expensive municipality in Luxembourg. Contrary to popular belief, Luxembourg City comes in at second place (2019). Prices per square metre in the municipalities of Clervaux, Lac de la Haute-Sûre and Troisvierges are half as much, leaving them to sit at the bottom of the price table.

A property that is not in great demand is harder to sell, which in turn has a positive effect on negotiations.

The more in demand a particular kind of property is, the lower the margin for negotiation. For example, there is a much stronger demand in this country for one or two-bedroom apartments and houses priced up to EUR 1 million. A property that is not in great demand is harder to sell, which in turn has a positive effect on negotiations. Owing to the tax breaks currently available to investors,  the margin for negotiation is very low on studios and apartments that are less than six years old.

One key factor that influences the price or negotiating scope is the specific nature of a property. The more specific, individual and unusual, the more difficult it is to sell. This is true, for example, of a house without a parking space or basement, or an apartment whose size is disproportionate to the number of rooms it has. Specific features should definitely be taken into account when negotiating prices.

Be cautious about property requiring renovation work. Before making an offer, get an expert to check the property over. This will help you more accurately evaluate the expected repair costs. Having a quote for work to be carried out provides a strong argument when negotiating with the seller.

Useful tips

Before starting negotiations, it is essential you know your own financial capacity. This is where help and advice from a professional, i.e. your banker, is a good idea.

In general, a property’s real value is usually between the asking price and the real market value. A property listed too high will have much lower interest, forcing the seller over time to adjust the price downwards. So it is always worth knowing how long a property has been on the market.

If you feel like that the asking price is accurate, it might be wise to avoid starting negotiations. Offers that are too low can deter the seller and even jeopardise the deal.

You will regret not buying a house for a week at most; a house bought rashly though – a whole lifetime.

In general, you should take your time and avoid making hasty decisions. To quote the wise words of one estate agent: “You will regret not buying a house for a week at most; a house bought rashly though – a whole lifetime.”

It is extremely important to find out the seller’s negotiating position. How do they react when they hear the case for a price reduction? Are they in a hurry to sell? Are there other interested parties? These are all questions that potential buyers should include in their strategy. Knowing these answers helps save a lot of money. Anyone looking to negotiate successfully must be aware of what margin there is and use it as calmly and effectively as possible.