Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate 3106292

Have you ever been involved in selling a home where an offer was made and you refused to counter the buyers offer? Here is some advice for sellers to consider, especially in today’s economic environment.

If a buyer has taken the time to put an offer on paper and submit it to your listing agent, I think you would agree that this is a good sign that they are interested in purchasing your home.

Your agent calls and says, “great news, we just received an offer!” They come over to review it with you and you immediately get defensive. The offer price is way too low or the terms of the contract aren’t favorable. These terms could include financing contingencies, a long and drawn out closing date or a request for you to pay some of the buyers closing costs.

Do your best to leave your emotions out of this! Consider this a business transaction that, when completed, will get you to your eventual goal. That goal may be buying your dream home, retiring to a different state or country, downsizing and buyer a less expensive home allowing you to stash some cash, and the list goes on.

I have been involved in a few transactions with sellers who have absolutely refused to counter a buyer’s offer. 9 times out of 10 this is the worst thing you can do! Your strategy is that if you do not counter, the buyer will come back with a better offer in a few days. What!? This is like catching and releasing a fish where there are other fishermen around you and hoping the fish decides to come back to you because you think you have better bait on your hook. Why would you take a chance at losing an interested buyer when there is a lot of inventory for them to choose from? Chances are there’s another home out there that could work for them. You may have a special home unlike any others on the market. If priced properly, maybe holding out is the right thing to do, but that is a big risk to take. Make sure holding out for a better offer is worth the risk.

If you have received multiple offers while listed on the market that you feel have been too low, perhaps your agent is not being upfront with you. There is a high probability that your home is overpriced. If your agent has made you aware of this and you have refused to listen and agree to a price reduction, then you are missing the chance to get your home sold for the best price with the least amount of stress. I have seen more sellers that have ended up in foreclosure, short sale, not selling at all or receiving 20% less than an offer they received months or a year earlier because they held out for a better deal. As an agent, it’s hard to see this happen to a client. The agents best bet is to walk away from the listing if there is no agreement to reduce the homes price. The ability to sell your home depends on you and your agent working together to achieve that goal. If you have done your homework and hired a full time, professional and knowledgeable agent, take the time to discuss your concerns with them, they will do the same. Listen to the advice they have given you. This is their daily job. They eat, breathe and sleep real estate!

They have their finger on the pulse of the market and know what needs to be done to get your home sold.

Make the counter offer and keep the negotiations moving. This may be changing the price and terms, just the price or just the terms of the contract. You may have to go back and forth 10 times to get to a final agreement, but there is a good chance you will come to an agreement if you and the buyer are reasonable along the way. Not countering an interested buyer’s offer is not reasonable!

You may not always like what your agent has to say.  It’s not your agents’ job to agree with you all the time or be your best friend.  There are days you will not like them and you’ll wonder why you hired them. Ultimately, their job is to sell your home.  If that means you getting upset because your agent gives it to you straight, that’s ok.  You’ll thank them and get over it once your home has sold and you’ll be glad they weren't sugar coating anything.  In fact, I have a good feeling you’ll become great friends…

I hope this helps to keep you focused on the ultimate goal of selling your home!


Re-Blogged 23 times:

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advice for home sellers

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Lisa Hultgren
Prudential California Realty - Escondido, CA

The more consumers that see this, the better!  Something for agents and sellers alike to consider.

Aug 30, 2010 09:59 AM #243
Ken Gramley
Cary, NC

Always, always, always counter!  When I have had sellers that didn't want to counter an initial offer I have encouraged them to think about what they would counter if the offer hadn't insulted them, and then get them to counter that.  No counter, the buyer walks.  It's pretty simple.

Aug 30, 2010 10:46 AM #244
Ryan Hukill - Edmond
ShowMeOKC Real Estate Pros of KW Elite - Edmond, OK
Realtor, Team Lead

I agree completely. I've had several situations in which the seller didn't want to counter, but after my talking them into doing so anyway, we ended up with a sold house. ALWAYS counter!

Aug 30, 2010 11:06 AM #245
Mary Macy
Top Agents Atlanta Metro - Roswell, GA
Top Agents Atlanta Metro

Great Post.  Even if the seller counters at full price, you never know when a buyer wants the house so bad and just wants to check out the waters first and will pay full price.  It is foolhardy not to counter!!!

Aug 30, 2010 04:31 PM #246
Peggy Wester
Realty Executives Integrity - Grafton, WI
Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County

I wish there were a way to ensure every seller saw this. Excellent post. Simply excellent.

Aug 31, 2010 01:36 AM #247
Kathie Burby
Coldwell Banker Mother Lode Real Estate - Sonora, CA
REALTOR, SFR, Tuolumne County Real Estate Guide
Great advice. If only the sellers would listen. You can lead a horse to water but.....
Aug 31, 2010 03:28 AM #248
Dawnita Griffith
Meadow Lake Real Estate, LLC - Pinedale, WY
It does matter who you hire.

Many sellers need that advise and guidance.  Realtors need to say these things to their clients when presenting offers.  If your sellers don't listen refer back to all of the posts about unrealistic sellers and if you should be handling their listing at all.

Aug 31, 2010 05:12 AM #249
Heidi Hovatter - Sonora & Twain Harte
Century 21 Wildwood - Selling Homes and Cabins in Tuolumne County - Sonora, CA
Heidi The Home Hunter

I list a lot of foreclosures.  I love when a buyer low balls and then I get a full price offer from someone else.  These buyers just don't get it.  No, you can't really buy a home for a dollar!

Aug 31, 2010 01:04 PM #250
Lisa Ackerson
JP and Associates REALTORS® - Keller, TX
CRS - Dallas Fort Worth Area Expert

Low ball offers are certainly frustrating.  But if sellers would only realize that having someone interested is just the beginning.  I've received many low ball offers that were nothing more than the buyers testing the seller.  One of my most recent experiences was when a buyer low balled my seller and then ended up buying the property for just $2,000 under list price.  It took an inordinate amount of time to calm the seller down and explain why she "needed" to counter.  She was so angry and insulted that she didn't even want to deal with the buyer.  Even though we eventually got them to come up to a realistic price, she was angry with them through the entire transaction and it showed in how she countered the repairs and in how she felt when she vacated the property.  Since the buyers in this case were just "testing the waters," they probably would have gotten more from her had they not insulted her right from the start. 

Sep 03, 2010 03:55 AM #251
Tom Waite
Thomas Waite Real Estate Broker - Cypress, CA
So Cal-Apartment Bldg Investments

Great Blog and great advice for sellers.

Now if you can only get the Agents on board...

Sep 03, 2010 12:17 PM #252
Ashley Harris

I don't agree that a counter is always warranted.  I had a buyer make an offer $30K below list price (list was $299K and reasonably priced).  The buyers were financing with an FHA loan and they were only putting down 10K.  They didn't have enough of a down payment to make it work unless my seller agreed to take their lowball offer.  My seller didn't counter and the buyer walked, but the buyer was just fishing to see if they could someone to cave to the highest price they could afford.

Sep 30, 2010 07:25 AM #253
Marnie Matarese
Showing you the best of Sarasota!

First of all, here in Florida, an offer only $30,000 under asking is not considered a lowball offer.  I would have immediately countered with 295,000 to let them know what I expected to receive back as a counter from them. 

Second, did you represent the buyers as well as the sellers?  If not, how do you know the true buying situation of the people making the offer?  Maybe they just have a very good agent who negotiates well and is trying to get the them the best deal.

I believe that the simple action of countering takes only a few minutes and is in the best interest of the seller.  I say this based on the last 6 "low-ball" offers I have received and negotiated into successful closings. 

Sep 30, 2010 07:48 AM #254
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

Thias is good stuff Dan. I always want to counter.

Oct 06, 2010 03:53 PM #255
Jason Beattie
Professional Realty Group - Edmonton, AB

Well put Dan.  I believe you never want the deal to die in your hands.Even if we need to keep countering at the same dollar figure.

Oct 07, 2010 07:02 AM #256
Don Wixom
RE/MAX Executives Nampa, ID - Nampa, ID
"Looking out for your next move..."tm

Dan, great post & so true! Sometimes the first offer is the best offer, as we have found out oh too often, in this declining market!

I like this the best:  "Do your best to leave your emotions out of this!"

Oct 25, 2010 02:46 PM #257
Juston and Stephanie Dickson
Exit Realty Success - North Ogden, UT

Dan, I completely agree, always look for what is possible.

Jan 10, 2011 08:22 AM #258
Matt Robinson
Professional Investors Guild - Pensacola, FL

Great post!  We don't see quite as many lowball offers as we did in 08 & 09, but whenever we do receive them...I always feel like I have to walk on eggshells in presenting it to not offend sellers.  I agree 100% that you have to check the emotion at the door, forget the fact that you laid the brick walk way with your own 2 hands (father of the bride, part 2) and just deal with the matter at hand.  Make a counter, negotiate, and see if a deal can be made...if not, move on.

Jun 24, 2011 05:13 AM #259
jo call
We made an offer on a 39,000 home. Not a great neighborhood it was a rental also. The home had some repairs done like vinyl siding and a 6 year old roof. But, It needed new windows some were broke out, It has a tree growing into the home it didn't have any steps on the doors and was a 2 ft drop it needed about 6,000 in additional repairs. We offered 28,000. With the thoughts we would possibly go to 32,000 at the MOST. His counter offer came back at 38,000. My agent was argumentative with me, saying there is no way it would cost that much in repairs, We took a guy over to give us an estimate. You really don't want to be like that to a potential buyer. I decided not to counter offer. She had been telling me that he was very ready to sell so we low balled it hoping he would come back with a counter offer that was fair. Well neither happened.. Agents...Be careful how you treat your buyer...Being rude will drive them away also. Just my 2 cents worth.
Mar 17, 2013 11:19 AM #260
jo call
Oh and by the way...We were going to pay cash.
Mar 17, 2013 11:23 AM #261
Marnie Matarese
Showing you the best of Sarasota!

Jo, it sounds like your agent was not very responsive to your concerns but I think that this particular post is more about how a counter offer, no matter how high or how low, either keeps the buyer in play or lets the buyer know what the price expectation of the seller is.  As an agent, I can not make the counter offer decision price for my seller but I can certainly encourage that a counter be made.  Sorry that you had a bad experience but it seemed to be more about the agent than the fact that the seller has the right to set the price of a counter.


Mar 17, 2013 09:17 PM #262
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Dan Jasmer

Changing the way you look at real estate
Need advice? I'm here to help.