So I'm going to be buying a new house in the next couple of weeks (assuming all goes well). At least, we have a house hunting trip in the city we're moving to scheduled next week with our realtor. The bank that has pre-whatever us (I'm pretty sure the load officer told me over the phone were pre-approved for $X, but my wife rightly thinks that at this stage we should only be prequalified for that amount - another bank specifically did send us pre-approved notice) said that we should try to get the seller to pay closing costs (even if that means that we pay more) so we can get a larger downpayment.
Is that hard to do? In the negotiation process, if they say they want $X, do we offer them that, but ask them to pay closing? Offer $X+4k in exchange for closing? Is it common for sellers to pay those costs? Does it depend on how long the house has been on the market?
I mean I get why the bank wants us to have more down while having the closing costs paid, but I just don't know how this whole thing works. I'm crappy at negotiating and I sort of feel like any real estate agent won't really be on our side because they get paid 3% of the final sales price (unless they're the selling agent too, then they get 6%), so it's not really in their best interest to get the price as low as possible.
That and, since every house is different, it's hard to know what the fair market value for a house is (I had the same problem on a much smaller scale with engagement rings, but I don't have to live in that for the next 30 years). Unless, is a tax assessment a reasonable peg for value? There's one house that looks good from the listings we've been sent online, but the sellers have been trying to sell it for at least a year through various real estate agents from the looks of things and they change agents every 6 months or so. So far the house has dropped ~1/4 in price from original asking, but it's still about twice what the neighboring houses are estimated to be worth and the tax assessment is 2/3 what the asking price is. I see lots of houses and the prices are all over the place and, since I don't know the city, I don't know if it's a neighborhood thing, a school district thing, or some other thing beyond my current guesses. I guess it's just sort of a freaky thing for me not to be in control of so many variables in such a big decision.