5 Tips for Buyers Who Want a Million-Dollar Home

By Dolly Lenz

Called the "Queen of Real Estate" and even "Jaws" for her aggressively successful tactics, super broker Dolly Lenz (pictured in the inset above) has sold over $8.5 billion dollars in high-end properties, catering to clients like Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel and P. Diddy. Now she's revealing five tips to buying a million-dollar home.

In a Buyer's Market: Be Aggressive

In a buyer's market, sellers have fewer options. Buyers are scarce and, therefore, they have the upper hand in that they are better able to dictate terms. In this instance, buyers can be aggressive in their bidding and are free to probe how motivated a seller is to sell. In this environment, buyers should consider asking the seller to pick up certain closing costs, include furnishings as part of the deal, and even request seller financing.

In buyer's markets, sellers become very competitive with one another and buyers can use this to their advantage. Buyers should not be shy about using one seller against another and see which one will offer a better deal. This is especially advantageous in neighborhoods which have similar homes and buyers are indifferent about which property they prefer.

In a Seller's Market: Be Prepared

In a seller's market, multiple bids on the same property are common as inventory levels are low. Nothing gets a seller's attention more than a buyer who is both ready and able to consummate a deal. For this reason, potential buyers have to be prepared before they start bidding. Obviously, cash is king and those paying cash are in a commanding position to seal the deal with a seller. But for most buyers, financing is a necessary element to a purchase, and those bidding with commitment in hand stand a much better chance of attracting a seller's attention than those without.

Demonstrating an ability to act quickly is also desirable to sellers. This obligates a buyer to be responsive to a seller's communications in real time and be prepared with pre-approved financing, a closing attorney and a flexible closing date. Most people think that the bidder offering the highest price will get the deal but often that is not the case.

Savvy sellers evaluate all the terms of a deal as a package and price is only one factor. For example, most sellers will find a $1 million offer with a commitment letter for 70 percent financing superior to a higher offer of $1,060,000 with a contingency of 80 percent financing, unless the buyer with the higher offer can demonstrate likelihood that they will obtain the necessary financing.

Beware the Onerous Mortgage Contingency

In negotiating a deal, both buyers and sellers assume risk. Just as you are taking a risk by agreeing to buy, a seller takes on risk by agreeing to sell. Naturally, a seller wants a deal with zero contingencies, to eliminate the likelihood of the buyer backing out, while a buyer wants a deal with as many contingencies as possible, should his circumstances change.

The mortgage contingency is a major contract issue for both buyer and seller, and as a buyer you want to obtain terms that are favorable to you. Failure to do this properly could jeopardize your contract deposit. The key element is to establish a maximum amount you are going to finance, and the higher the percentage you can get in the contract, the better off you'll be. The seller will try to negotiate a lower percentage, but the key is to establish a number that you are comfortable with.

See more tips to buy a million-dollar home at CNBC.

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Negotiating a Home Purchase
Negotiating a Home Purchase