The question asked on Trulia Voices …
Short answer is it depends on the seller. Most contracts these days include some sort of seller assistance for the buyer, whether it’s a request to cover the buyers’ closing costs (usually 3% or so in Arizona) or to also help with the down payment (through a third party non-profit such as Ameridream, at least until such programs goes away October 1 barring saving legislation from Congress.)
Whether such a contract is successful depends on a few different factors, most prominent of which are the sellers’ equity position and their motivation. If the sellers lack the equity to cover the buyers’ closing costs, then clearly it’s not a possibility. And if the sellers aren’t willing to take a chunk out of their proceeds to help the buyer, the sale won’t happen.
Requests for assistance from the seller usually succeed most often with offers a little closer to the list price, assuming the list price is based in market reality. In essence by offering the seller a little more than you otherwise might, you’re financing your own closing costs as part of the loan.
Combining 3% seller acceptance (or more) with a lowball offer, say more than 10% below the current asking price and/or market value, usually don’t succeed unless the seller is in a must-sell situation. There’s no harm in asking, unless you really, really want that one particular property because you’re often starting negotiations in a highly adversarial position. There’s a decided difference between being strong and belligerent.
Lastly, seller assistance also varies depending on the current market conditions. A couple of years ago it never would happen. These days, it’s remarkably common.[tags]Phoenix real estate, real estate negotiations[/tags]