If it's your first time to buy a home, you probably already know that it's one tough ride. A lot of things can go wrong, and a lot of things can go right. The process isn't always straightforward and clean cut and there are complications that can be quite difficult to deal with if you're not ready for them. It's a far cry from buying furniture or a new car. Buying a home is going to affect your life in a big way for a long period of time. It pays to approach this experience with the right frame of mind and expectations.
One part of the home-buying process that many people find challenging is the part where you make an offer to buy the property. Offering to buy it at an unreasonably low cost may offend the sellers and give them the impression that you're taking advantage of their need to sell. It could jeopardize your chances at closing the deal. Conversely, if you offer something higher than what you should, it's obviously not going to be advantageous to you.
When figuring out how much to offer, it pays to do some digging on historical data. Don't jump on a deal or base your offer entirely on the list price of the property. Do some research and find out how much houses were selling for in the area within the last two or three years. Find properties in the same community with the same (or almost the same) specifications so that you can make a closer match to what you think would be a fair offer for the home you want to buy.
If possible, get the data on the properties that were recently sold in the neighborhood and how much the asking prices for those houses were. It may be hard to get an exact match to your house, but you'll understand what makes one house more expensive than others as you look through different houses. For example, if you're looking to buy Fountain Hills real estate, look through the same area for Fountain Hills homes for sale and find one that closely resembles the house you want to buy in terms of floor area, number of rooms, age, and the likes. You'll find that the asking prices for these houses will be similar.
Inspect the property to find out whether there are things that would justify lowering the price of the house such as minor repairs, things that need to be replaced such as light fixtures, faucets, etc. If you find things to be repaired, discuss this with the owner and see if he/she can lower the price or at least shoulder the cost of the repairs.
You should also consider other factors such as how long the house has been sitting, waiting to be sold. It may make an impact on the willingness of the the owners to lower the price of the house if they haven't been able to sell it for a long time.
It's considered good practice not to offer lower than 85% of the asking price. The idea is to offer something low enough so that even the counter offer may still be within the vicinity of your price range.