The Seller’s Counter Offer: Sellers, choose your battles carefully

Real Estate Agent with eXp Realty License #142914

The Seller’s Counter Offer: Sellers, choose your battles carefully

Seller's Counter Offer

My home buyers put an excellent offer on a home they wished to purchase - what we refer to in the industry as a “clean offer” - and my Buyers awaited the Seller’s counter offer. My home buyers offered an extremely fair price, a huge earnest money amount (3% of sales price), asked for a minimal amount in repair cost, and asked for a quick close. We didn’t ask for closing costs and didn’t have a string of demands - it was a fair, attractive and clean offer with conventional financing through a local and reputable Lender. We countered once and had almost come to a price and terms that all agreed upon.

Excited about their new home purchase, my home buyers wanted to visit a second time to show friends, measure for appliances and re-examine a few things they might want to modify. On our subsequent visit, we noticed that there was not an electronic garage door opener, although there obviously had been at one time. It was our turn to counter, so we added to the contract “Seller to purchase/install Brand X electronic garage door opener at no cost to Buyer.” Cost was approximately $600.

We then patiently awaited the Seller’s counter offer. There were no external handles on the garage doors. There was no way to lock or open the garage door other than from the inside of the house.

And, the Sellers refused to spend $600 to provide my Buyer’s their desired garage door opener. I was dumb-founded.

Now, my home buyers just negotiated their home sale. They worked very hard to compromise with their Buyer - they came down a significant amount on their sales price and agreed to pay a portion of the Buyer’s closing costs. They were FAIR and GENEROUS when negotiating their counter offer. So, imagine their reaction when THEIR Seller refused a simple request of accessing the garage?

Seller's Counter Offer - Negotiate in good faith

This did not go over well with my Buyers, particularly Gabbi. I asked my Buyers to “sleep on it” and reminded them to think of the “big picture” - all those comforting things Realtors say to their frustrated clients.

Well, Gabbi thought about it and jumped right back on the computer to house shop. The next day she had selected two more houses she wanted to see.

The Seller’s Counter Offer: Sellers, choose your battles carefully

And, as you might have guessed the “end of the story,” we all fell in love with one of Gabbi’s selections. Better floor plan, much larger and open, better price, guest bathrooms in more convenient places, utility room in a better location, and, although it’s NOT an industry standard - this house had better “karma.”

The Seller of the first house gets to keep his $600 he would have had to spend on garage door openers. And, he gets to keep his house until the next offer comes along.

Sellers - pick your battles. Negotiate in good faith. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Pick up your crayons and put them back in the box, please. Take a nap.

When you counter your offer, please think that your Buyer may be just like my Buyer - she might just find your counter offer offensive and continue to shop.

And, instead of the clean offer we just presented you, your next offer may be cluttered with objectionable demands and a laundry list of requests. The longer your house stays on the market, the dirtier your next offer will be.

Lori is a residential Realtor serving the greater Tulsa area, and specializing in midtown Tulsa real estate. Please visit Lori’s web site, or call 918-852-5036.

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Please visit my web site if you are shopping for Tulsa homes for sale or call 918-852-5036 for more information about Midtown Tulsa Real Estate. In addition to my advanced grasp of the internet to market your Tulsa home for sale, I include a home staging consultation with every listing AND professional photography - at no aditional cost to you!

Lori is a residential Realtor with eXp Realty serving the greater Tulsa area and specializing in downtown Tulsa and midtown Tulsa real estate.

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Lori Cain
eXp Realty - Tulsa, OK
Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer

Bryan and Gary - my Buyers LOVED this first house, but were truly offended at the Seller's response. If a Seller has a GOOD offer in hand, why give the Buyers a chance or REASON to continue to shop? And, as chance, karma, and Gabbi would have it, we found a home we love MORE! Go figure. Sellers - pay attention!

Apr 14, 2010 05:26 PM #15
Don Spera
CR Property Group, LLC - East York, PA
Serving York and Adams County, PA

Great post for all to see.  I think we all have had stubborn Sellers.  Preparation given to the Seller at the time of taking the listing on potential concessions would have been to everyones advantage.  Educating the Seller would have saved this transaction, but I am very happy that you had found a great property that they love.

Apr 14, 2010 06:18 PM #16
Samantha Davault
Alexander Chandler Realty - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth, TX

Lori- Some sellers just don't understand that a buyer has plenty of other houses to choose from.  Lost a sale over $600 that should have been something that was addressed before they listed the house anyway.  Dumb move for the sellers, but it worked out better for your buyer.

Apr 14, 2010 06:19 PM #17
1 ~Judi & Don Barrett & Chassy Eastep - Integrity
Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK

It was meant to turn out this way.  They have a house they love and they have a story to tell! 

Apr 14, 2010 11:46 PM #18
Lori Cain
eXp Realty - Tulsa, OK
Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer

Don - stubborn Sellers, yes, but I would NEVER have allowed my Sellers to make that counter!!

Samantha - this house was fairly new on market - will be interesting to see how long it takes to sell . . .

Judi - love your pictage!! Yes, they do have a story to tell!!

Apr 15, 2010 01:36 AM #19
Karen Crowson
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Rancho Bernardo, CA
Your Agent for Change

I would offer that there might have been a little hesitation on the part of the buyer as well.  After all, if you really love a house, you wouldn't let it slip away for $600 either.

Apr 16, 2010 03:33 AM #20
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

For 20 years this scenario has driven me crazy. People just don't understand opportunity cost. So often this happens when the house has not been on the market long. The sellers seem to think that regardless of our pricing the house correctly and marketing, that that totally acceptable offer means a better one is coming. 60 days later they often blame the Realtor. When the net fits, go for it, the chances of getting a better offer is much smaller than a lower one.

Apr 16, 2010 04:59 AM #21
Lori Cain
eXp Realty - Tulsa, OK
Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer

Karen - disagree. My Buyers LOVED this home, but when Seller countered refusing to spend $600 on garage door openers AND said that there had NEVER been a garage door opener, my Buyers started to mistrust him.

Joe - opportunity cost, indeed. It's the early offers that get the worst treatment. I'm beginning to ask Sellers @ time of listing . . . "are you going to be disappointed with me if I bring you an offer in the first week of your listing period?"

Apr 16, 2010 02:41 PM #22
Dick and Dixie Sells
Sells Real Estate, LLC - Trinity, FL
Realtors, Tampa Bay Florida Homes For Sale

Yes, it is the big picture! The bottom line! I have seen deals go south on much smaller items. Our sellers are told for instance that if such and such does not convey, box the thing up ( such as grandmother's chandelier) and get it out of a buyers sight. Replace it with something that can stay! Some folks get hung up on the smallest things and overlook the big picture. So glad it worked out for your buyers.

Apr 18, 2010 10:43 PM #23
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Lori, this is really good advice to sellers.  I think that as long as everyone remains "reasonable", stuff works well.

Apr 19, 2010 01:52 PM #24
Lori Cain
eXp Realty - Tulsa, OK
Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer

Dick & Dixie - you are so right!

Patricia - we certainly work towards "reasonable."  I think my Buyers would have been fine if Sellers had simply refused to add garage door openers versus telling us they never existed.  As you might have guessed, the Sellers came back the NEXT day and were happy to install garage door openers - no longer an option!

Apr 19, 2010 03:46 PM #25
Jane Cross
Homes By Cross serving Charlotte NC Real Estate Needs - Charlotte, NC

Lori, I love this line,  'The longer your house stays on the market, the dirtier your next offer will be."

In a buyers market, the sellers really need to get a grip on the big picture. And in a buyers market, it is unfortunate, but a fact. The seller feels a bit battled and bruised...the bruising gets worse if emotions are applied to the contract.

Apr 20, 2010 12:05 PM #26
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hi Lori,  Isn't it strange what can happen when one party ( or both ) loses sight of the big picture !?!?

Apr 26, 2010 04:34 AM #27
Kyle Jan
Scottsdale, AZ
Phoenix AZ Homes for Sale

I don't know why either side would have let the deal go for a $600 garage door opener.  Both sides could have made this deal happen.  Reading your reply, too little to late from the seller. 

Apr 26, 2010 04:38 AM #28
Lori Cain
eXp Realty - Tulsa, OK
Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer

Jane - quite true, isn't it?

Bill - yes, sometimes difficult to keep everyone focused on the big picture!

Kyle - it seems silly, but because the Sellers were adament that a garage door never existed in the first place, my Buyers just DISMISSED this house and started shopping for another. And the one they wound up buying was far superior.  Funny how it works out!

Apr 26, 2010 06:41 AM #29
Ted Tyndall
Davidson Realty Inc. - Saint Augustine, FL
FL Homes for Sale-Palencia, World Golf Village,Nocatee,St. Augustine

Lori, an interesting story that is close to home on a couple of sales. Good advice.

Apr 26, 2010 08:00 AM #30
Coleen DeGroff
eXp Realty - Gainesville, FL
Haile Plantation Real Estate - Gainesville FL

Hi Lori - LOVE this!  I always tell sellers when they balk at things like negotiating in appliances as part of a sale....well, sure, we can arrange for you to keep your appliances.  You'll get to keep your house too.


Amazing what people will blow a deal over....

Apr 26, 2010 10:42 AM #31
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Connecting you to the L.A. real estate market

Well thank you kindly.  And so do you :)

Apr 26, 2010 01:10 PM #32
Rita Fong
RE/MAX REAL ESTATE TODAY, Executive Broker 901-488-9590 - Marion, AR
Realtor - Marion Arkansas Homes for Sale

Lori, It always amazes me a deal fell through for some small issue, it is human nature, they don't like being told what to do, they want to win all battle.  Unfortunate, this seller lost his battle because of his "got to win" attitude.

Apr 26, 2010 02:58 PM #33
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

I think it's ridiculous that the buyers asked for something to be installed.  If it isn't there or didn't work it's not included.  I think that you should have advised the buyers better and told them not to be so riduculous.  Seller got tired of throwing in the kitchen sink - oh wait - you probably wanted a new one of those too!

Apr 28, 2010 10:33 AM #34
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