Why it’s crucial to know the motivations of the vendor

Written by realestateview.com.au in Buying

An agent shows a vendor some paperwork.

As a buyer, the one person you really need to convince to accept your offer is, simply, the vendor. This is the individual, or possibly a group, that will officially say yes or no to the price you have suggested you’ll pay for their home and the terms that you have presented to them.

Each vendor is likely selling for a different reason. Some will be simply looking to move on, possibly tentatively seeing if their home will sell so they can upgrade. Others will be needing to sell due to a change in circumstances or even a move overseas or to a different place.

For this reason, the mindset and motivations of the vendor are crucial for you to understand to determine three things:

  1. How much to offer
  2. How hard to push
  3. What terms to include

Vendor motivations

Remember that a vendor has a financial and emotional stake in their home and reasons for selling will vary. The big question is what this reason for selling is. Real estate transactions can be stressful and expensive. Undertaking a sale is not something that a vendor enters into easily.

If they need to sell the home quickly, they may opt for a shorter settlement and a lower price. Meanwhile, others may actually want a longer settlement.

How to contact the vendor

As, usually, the vendor’s agent will be the way you communicate to them and will know their circumstances, it is worth asking them the following queries:

  • Why is the vendor selling? Is this a deceased estate?
  • What settlement terms does the vendor desire?
  • Can you describe the ideal outcome for the vendor?
  • How long has the home been on the market?
  • Do they have another property lined up?
  • How motivated are they to sell?
  • Have there been any reductions in price already?

Some vendors will be more open to negotiation than others. However, this may be due to personality or some other factor. On its own this isn’t necessarily an indicator of motivation.

There is a limit to what the real estate agent can tell you and, remember, they act on behalf of the vendor and so are likely to present information that is more positive about them.

Things to look out for

Look to see if there is furniture in the home, and consider looking for rental records – perhaps this hasn’t been their primary place of residence for a period of time. If the property is actually a rental home, and the owner is an investor, then that may also be a clue as to their perspective. It’s worth knowing whether it was used as a holiday home or for some other purpose.

Sometimes real estate agents will let you know some of these details in their advertisement or in their usual spiel about the home. They may be downgrading due to children moving out of home and they may have already moved overseas.


If your offer is knocked back, remember that price isn’t the only factor. Do ask the agent why the buyer didn’t accept the offer as you could adjust your terms in a way that they might be more interested in.


While common ground may not always be possible and their expectations could simply be beyond your range, you may find that you are not far off of what they want to achieve.

It’s worth knowing if the seller is facing a loss on the purchase. You can usually find this out by searching on portals offering sales history of houses. When was it last purchased and for how much? Have they been dropping the asking rent? Sometimes, these records can fill in the blanks.  They can also be useful for determining whether there have been any discounts already that may suggest an increasing desire to sell the home.

While a price drop or falling rent can indicate why a homeowner or investor may be selling, it can also be worth ensuring that the reason isn’t the property itself or the area. Have a look and see how many other properties on the street and in the suburb are selling. Consider council plans near the home and any upcoming developments or changes that may affect the home’s value. The owner may be trying to sell before a price drop.

Tip: Bear in mind that most vendors have an emotional connection with the home and you don’t always want to make negative comments about that the agent can pass on to the seller to put them on the defensive. However, it sometimes doesn’t pay to seem too enthusiastic for the same reason. Being genuine, but explaining that you have a number of considerations, is usually the best option when asking about the vendor and the home.