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The Key to Negotiating the Best Deal when Buying a San Diego Home

The more “stuff” that is at stake, the longer and more complicated the negotiation process. That is why bartering at the Kobe's Swap Meet only takes a few minutes but negotiating complex international commercial deals can take months, and multilateral trade treaties can drag on for years. But, as in any negotiation, preparation and strategy are the best ways to secure the best deal.

It is no different when you are trying to buy a home in San Diego. San Diego home prices are skyrocketing. According to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, the San Diego market outpaced the rest of the country and California. After adjusting for seasonal variation, home prices were up 5.8 percent in November, compared to a year ago. Comparatively, the home prices went up 5.6 percent nationwide over the same period.

Which, who can blame everyone who wants to move to the San Diego area? It is equipped with a mild climate, world-famous beaches like Mission Bay, beautiful landmarks like Balboa Park, and a booming economy – everything a young family or professional needs to start building roots. But these steep prices mean that there is fierce competition to purchase a single-family home in San Diego. But the key to securing a favorable deal in any negotiation is coming up with a plan and executing it. This post will go over some strategies you can implement to maximize your opportunities.

Needless to say, now is a pretty good time to buy a home in San Diego!


Buying a home is a significant expense, so it requires deliberate thought and planning. Start with your goals: Why are you purchasing a home? Is it a vacation home? An investment property or rental? What does your spouse prefer? Is this going to be the home you raise your family in?

Then, consider the amenities and perks you need. For instance, does your dream home need to be close to a park? How important is central air to you? How about parking? Write out your objectives and list your goals in order of importance. Creating a list forces you to ascertain what you can compromise on and what is a deal breaker. The better you know your position, the better you can negotiate it with others.

Know Your Seller and Agent

Next, real estate agents in San Diego will work with you to try to understand the motivations behind your seller and their agent. Why are they selling? Are they in financial distress or looking to move for a job? You can ask, and most people will answer you. But they will also check out property records and do some homework on social media. The more you know about your seller, the more you can fit their needs.

Boost Your Appeal

The best-qualified buyer, not the highest bidder, is usually the one who secures the offer. The best-qualified buyer is the one who is the most reliable, most able to complete payment, and the least likely to be a hassle. It is imperative you do everything in your power to define yourself as a qualified buyer. With the San Diego real estate market moving rapidly, knowing your negotiation strategy beforehand is important to securing your dream home.

Occasionally, sellers will accept lower bids, even up to 30% lower, for offers from qualified buyers. There are a lot of ways to make yourself a more competitive buyer. You can boost your credentials by submitting a large earnest money deposit, mortgage pre-approval letters, and proof of funds. Do everything you can to appear as qualified as possible.


When you are buying your dream home, you are also purchasing that person’s memories. They want to know that you will take care of their home and their memories. Some people consider personal letters frivolous, but every act that humanizes you to the seller further secures your position to buy. Write about your family, how this house will become the home your kids grow up in, talk about the schools, and anything else that connects the home to your personal story.

Low Offers and Perks

People expect to negotiate offers. It is a typical strategy to provide initial lowball offers as a starting point for negotiations. How low of an offer depends on how much you want to land this property. If you are entertaining several properties, you can probably afford to be aggressive. But if this is the home you want, then you may need to submit higher bids, especially in an agressive market like San Diego, where there are often multiple offers on any given property. It is important to come up with your highest and best offer on the home that you want so that you are not disappointed if you miss out to another offer that is more competitive than yours.

Also, bear in mind that there are other perks or terms on the contract that you may want to negotiate. For instance, moving on inspection periods, closing dates, contingencies, remodeling, closing costs, and deposit amounts can all significantly affect the final deal. Additionally, think outside the box and strategize with your agent to come up with the best approach.  Maybe some foundation work was found on the home, but the seller is willing to split the cost.  Keep in mind that everything on a contract is negotiable!

If you're getting ready to purchase a new San Diego home, download our Buyer's Checklist to help you navigate through the steps of purchasing your San Diego dream home.

The Home Buyer's Checklist 

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