Some times you will find that no matter what you do you won't be able to convince a seller to take your offer. Having helped buyers in hundreds of transactions I have found a number of different tactics that have been useful. Here are a few that each had their own time and place.
With my recent situation I was able to show to comparable sales that were far superior to the property that my client was attempting to buy. I sent them to the seller's agent with an explanation that they both had much more finished square footage and the other pluses that these properties had versus the property she was trying to buy. A lot of people don't realize that a lot of sellers are coached by their Realtor the same way when they choose an initial price. They may tack on a little bit extra to have room to negotiate down to a lower price, but they have already been made aware of the comps. The key to this negotiation was to show that the price they were asking was too high because the property would need to be significantly updated to equal the comparable sales.
Keep in mind that you can likely find comps to downgrade a property's value when you're buying it and upgrade it when you're selling it. The beauty of Real Estate is that very few properties are exact matches for comps. In this case, even though the location was similar (one block apart) the location of the property she bought was better than the comps that we were using (you don't want to mention that). You're argument for the price you have come up with doesn't seem insulting when you have data to back it up. The seller accepted the offer once they saw the comps that we were using.
In another case, where my buyers were up against multiple competing offers, I told them to write the seller a letter. The letter stated why they liked the seller's home and how they liked that she had taken extra care in maintaining the home. Despite the fact that one of the other offers was higher, the seller choose my buyer's offer because of the letter. She said she liked the Idea of a family being in the home. Its not always the money that motivates a seller to choose your offer.
One other area to consider is either be more flexible than the other competing offers, or to lessen the number of contingencies you have with your offer. You are gambling a bit if you choose the route my buyer did with the following example, but it may be worth it if you have knowledge about a buildings construction.
One of my buyers, wanted a home badly, and he felt that it was in excellent condition. He chose not to have an inspection. We found out that it was this decision that made the seller accept his offer over his competition. I caution people that are doing this to be careful because this could haunt you. As far as being more flexible with a seller, it is good to ask the selling agent questions about the seller's situation and when they need to close and also what would help them out with the sale of their property. Realtors often blindly make an offer with their clients, and when the seller looks at the offer they make not accept it or negotiate in a fair way because the terms that the buyer has offered don't work for them. The buyers and their agent missed a golden opportunity to get a favorable deal done because they didn't find out the seller's motivation.
If you want help buying a home feel free to contact me via email or call 612 332 9000.