"This is Our Best Offer - Take it or Leave it!"

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“The seller countered at $435,000 and said that’s his bottom line.” Negotiate

Well, shucks. I guess the deal is done, then. The buyers said they won’t go above $415,000, so there’s no point in wasting any more time on this negotiation.

Uh, HUH?

Never, ever, ever believe that anything is anyone’s bottom line! Not saying that they’re lying or even that they didn’t mean it when they said “this is as low (or high) as we’ll go.”

They probably weren’t lying and they probably did mean it.

But that doesn’t make it true.

No one knows what the bottom line is until they reach it. Not the listing agent, not the buyer agent, not even the buyer or seller. And chances are that any proclamations of bottom line (or top offer) are thousands of dollars from what the seller would be satisfied taking or the buyer satisfied paying.

As the representative of the buyer or seller in a negotiation, never, ever allow the negotiations to die on your side of the table. Always counter a “final” offer, even if you “know” the parties involved are as low (or high) as they’ll go.

Because you don’t know. And, frankly, neither do they.

On a related note, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an agent on a real estate reality show push her OWN client to accept an offer or counteroffer because “the other agent says this is their bottom line.” Nonsense!

Never, ever advise your buyer or seller client to pay any attention to such proclamations, and push them to accept a “final offer” just to save you the trouble of drafting up yet another counter-offer. If your buyer or seller wants to push a little harder, just write it up! I think you’ll be surprised (pleasantly) how many times a “dead” deal will come together if you don’t accept anyone’s “final offer!”


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Comments (20)

Joan Congilose
New Jersey Properties - Manalapan, NJ
Helping Sellers & Buyers

Hi Jennifer, Good post and good point. I agree it is important to keep the lines of communication open between all parties and never give up

Jun 12, 2012 10:10 PM
Kathryn Maguire
GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881 - Chesapeake, VA
Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach

So true!  I get a bit irritated when I see agents coerce their clients that they HAVE to accept something.  Our job is to advise the client and present the facts and options... and allow them to make that decision.

Jun 12, 2012 10:12 PM
Brenda Mayette
Miranda Real Estate Group, Inc. - Glenville, NY
Getting results w/ knowledge & know-how!

Exactly! I try to never say those words if that's what my client has proclaimed because I know it's rarely an accurate reflection of their motivation. Meanwhile, it never hurts to push a little more. We did last week and saved another $2k. Hey! 2k is 2k!  ;)

Jun 12, 2012 10:15 PM
Scott Fogleman
New Home Team 804-573-9592 - Richmond, VA
Greater Good Group

I agree, you never know what someone will do when it comes down to it. Sellers, want a certain amount, but who knows how long it may take to get that amount of a serious buyer again. Buyers need to realise the market has changed and properties may not sit from months....

Jun 12, 2012 10:15 PM
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Exactly! I see it all the time on the reality shows... where the "agent" advises her client not to counter because the other guy said it was his bottom line. 

Jun 12, 2012 10:17 PM
Captain Wayne - Rowlett Real Estate School
Rowlett Real Estate School - Panama City, FL
Rowlett Real Estate School / Owner and Instructor

Well put Jennifer.  Great Blog with some very good advice for buyers and sellers both!

Jun 12, 2012 10:24 PM
Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Broker
Janisch & Co. - Conroe, TX
Selling Northwest Houston to good people like you!

We've found over the years that this is our final and best offer doesn't necessarily mean final and best.  Of course it does occasionally.

Jun 12, 2012 11:03 PM
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

JAH, it literally takes 2 seconds to put another offer together these days so why not keep on trying. 

Jun 12, 2012 11:16 PM
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Kevin - well, maybe more than 2 seconds, but it's true - it's not nearly as much work to counter and offer as it used to be. You don't even have to walk to the fax machine! 

Jeanne & Ralph - eventually you get to your "best" but I don't think I've seen it be the number that the person proclaimed as their bottom line or best offer!

Cap'n - Thank you!

Scott - I hear it's "fun" out there right now as expectations are adjusting!

Jun 12, 2012 11:30 PM
Doug Rogers
Bayou Properties - Alexandria, LA
Your Alexandria Louisiana Agent

I've had agents stamp their feet and fuss, "I thought I said this was our final offer?", only to have the deal accepted!

Jun 13, 2012 12:30 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Jennifer -- as agents, it is our duty to present offers/counter offers to our clients.   In presenting them, I give them the possible scenarios -- sometimes the best and final is indeed how it is presented but it is not our decision to accept or reject --- only the client can make that ultimate decision.   

Jun 13, 2012 12:33 AM
Nancy Conner
Olympia, WA
Olympia/Thurston County WA
Amen! Sometimes the agents are surprised....even the buyers and sellers are surprised....that what seemed like a dead end negotiation just turned into an agreement.
Jun 13, 2012 02:02 AM
Glenn S. Phillips
Lake Homes Realty - Birmingham, AL
CEO, Lake Homes Realty / LakeHomes.com

Great point Jennifer. And there are times people have not be completely candid with their own agent. Particularly true of people in financial trouble who are desperate but don't tell anyone. They can surprise everyone by taking a deal just to get out of something.  G

Jun 13, 2012 04:37 AM
Debbie Cook
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc - Silver Spring, MD
Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate

This is so true!  
I always say "I know you said you would not go any lower or higher", but I won't hold you to it!"

Jun 13, 2012 05:25 AM
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Oooh, Debbie... you reminded me of something... NEVER ask your client for their bottom line! Once they've spoken it out loud, they have ego invested in it and might feel wussy if they agree to go higher or lower. And if your client tells you something like "I won't go any higher than $xxx" just ignore it and act as if you didn't even hear ;-]

Jun 13, 2012 05:37 AM
Ann Cordes
Century 21 Randall Morris and Associates, Waco - Waco, TX
Home Ownership is Not a Distant Dream

I had a deal fall apart a few months ago 3 days before closing  because the contract price was $89,000 and the appraisal came back $74,000. I represented the seller, who would still have cleared $18,000. But she refused to take it. She was just determined to get the price she wanted. So it is hard to know when the parties will still budge and when they won't.

Jun 13, 2012 07:13 AM
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

I've seen some people "move" their bottom line when reality hits (on both sides!).

Jun 13, 2012 11:50 AM
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

JA, As that famous baseball sage Yogi said ""it ain't over till it's over". We need to remind all involved that 100% of nothing is still nothing.

Jun 15, 2012 10:42 PM
Brenda Mullen
RE/MAX Access - Schertz, TX
Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!!

Great point Jennifer...final is never final until it's written and signed off on lol :).  Always counter on a final unless the seller and buyer are satisfied.  It's definitely not the agent's decision.

Jun 16, 2012 04:27 AM
Judith Abbott
Coldwell Banker Residential - Dallas, TX

I am alway the last person to declare a deal "dead".  You need to continue to negotiate until everyone else standing around tells you that the deal is a corpse on the floor and the coroner's office needs you to get out of the way!  Before that point, continue to make suggestions for how a deal can be made to work.

Having said that, if something really is our "highest and best", and I tell the other agent that we have made our "highest and best" offer, that is what the offer really is.  Our Highest and Best.


Jun 28, 2012 04:54 AM

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