Receiving an offer on your home

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Preferred SL# 3221750

Congratulations on receiving an offer on your home.

So how can sellers evaluate and respond to an offer in a way that protects their interests but doesn't send buyers running?

The first thing to remember is that all offers are good. They show that a buyer has chosen your home over the competition in the marketplace. Any offer, regardless of how high, low, or crazy it might be, should be taken as a compliment. Now the harder question - should the seller accept the offer?

When sellers receive an offer on their home they have three choices. They can accept, reject, or counter. While many sellers instinctively counter all offers, wise sellers take a deep breath first. Most view making a counter offer a natural part of the sales process, but they are really rejecting the buyer's offer then presenting a new offer back. They risk releasing the buyer from the deal. In many cases the risk may not be worth the reward.

If the seller must make a counteroffer they should keep these three tips in mind:

1)Attempt to understand the buyer's position

A negotiation is never a one way street. In order to create a sale, both parties must feel they are receiving a good deal. Learn as much about the buyer, including their background and reasons for making their initial offer, as possible. In doing so it may be possible to find common ground that nurtures a successful sale.

2) Use the give and take technique

When making a counter offer sellers should think not only what they want, but what they would be willing to give up to make the sale happen. For instance, if sellers are asking for a higher price, perhaps they can help pay the buyer's closing costs or pay points to help the buyer secure lower payments?

3) Emphasize the positives

In writing the counter offer I first emphasize all of the areas that buyer and seller agree on before requesting modifications. For instance, I point out all the areas of the original offer that are acceptable. This might include the closing date, the possession date, the down payment, the inclusions and exclusions, the financing type, specific conditions or contingencies. Then I list the areas of negotiation. This helps both parties see how close they really are to making this deal a reality and helps improve the likelihood that a deal can be struck.


Joseph Schutz
Exit Ryan Scott Realty
Ft Lauderdale, FL


Comments (16)

Deborah Laemmerhirt - REALTOR® Brookfield,Newtown,Roxbury,Bridgewater,Washington,Sherman
Keller Williams Luxury Homes International - Brookfield, CT
Luxury Homes,WaterFront,Equestrian,NewConstruction

Hello Joseph, Great article - right to the point.  There always seems like there is a great difference between the seller and the buyer but really there can be a several areas of agreement.  Thank you for summing it up!

Sep 29, 2013 10:41 PM
Joseph Schutz
RE/MAX Preferred - Wilton Manors, FL
A Realtor with Experience You Can Trust!

Thanks for commenting Deborah.  I appreciate the feedback!

Sep 29, 2013 10:46 PM
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!


Nicely written blog. Negotions can sometimes be stressfull but they don't have to be. I like your idea of pointing out the positives!  Some of the things I have negotiation would be perhaps paying a year or even up to five years of the HOA fees, it is less expensive than the offer amount, or some landscaping care or pool care to help sweeten the deal without taking thousands of dollars of the top, assuming the price is not out of whack.

Oct 09, 2013 11:35 PM
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Excellent!  Excellent.  This is a good primer for new agents who often believe that everything is a slam dunk.

Oct 10, 2013 01:31 AM
Elizabeth Bouchard
Samson Properties - Arlington, VA
Associate Broker in Northern Virginia, DC and MD

I am glad your post talks about "writing the counter offer".  I was recently in a situation where the selling agent verbally came back to us with a counter offer and said they were also verbally making a counter offer to another party.  I think its okay to have a discussion between the agents and their clients about what it might take to come to terms, but to make verbal counters to two different offers doesn't sit well.  Give it to me in writing so I know if my clients sign off on it, we have a ratified contract.

Oct 10, 2013 01:42 AM
Suzanne Otto
Six Twenty Designs - Lansdale, PA
Your Montgomery County PA home stager

It has to stop being seller vs buyer. No good comes from it. Both parties working together towards the same end goal will yield the best results.

Oct 10, 2013 01:44 AM
Marc McMaster
RE/MAX Centre Realty - State College, PA
Putting my clients before myself

Great ieas on how to not take things personal and get the best price for your home!

Oct 10, 2013 01:59 AM
Nancy Conner
Olympia, WA
Olympia/Thurston County WA
This is a great summary of a seller's choices when receiving an offer, and some very practical advice on how best to end up with a successful conclusion to negotiations. And it's so true that sellers don't always understand that once they counter the buyer's offer there are no guarantees that they haven't just killed a sale before it ever got off & running.
Oct 10, 2013 02:07 AM
Jay & Michelle Lieberman
Keller Williams World Class - Agoura Hills, CA
Creating Calm in the Buying and Selling Chaos

I try to get my sellers to counter even the very low ball offers as you have to start somewhere.

Oct 10, 2013 03:40 AM
Laura Gaither
Crye-Leike - Bartlett, TN
Memphis, TN (901) 239-5284

 Negotiating is my favorite part of the transaction (well, maybe closing is).  I like to preface my counters and offers with 3 good things and an appreciation.  No one wants to be told their home is heaping pile... nor does a buyer want to feel like the seller isn't really interested in their offer. 


Oct 10, 2013 04:24 AM
Jill Winchel
Royal Shell Real Estate - The Koffman Group - Cape Coral, FL
We make it easy. You make it home.

Great thoughts regarding offers. I also agree with #5 above that a discussion is ok but get the counter in writing.

Oct 10, 2013 04:38 AM
Rosie Crow
Serving Sugar Land, Richmond, Rosenberg, Missouri City - Sugar Land, TX
Exceeding Expectations. Delivering Results

Excellent post.  This epitomizes the traits of a collaborative negotiator (versus a competitive one primarily focused on a win lose mindset) who is willing to understand the concerns of both parties and offer solutions to satisfy both sides.  I totally believe in the exchange principle --- if I give you this item of value, I expect this item of value in return.

Oct 10, 2013 09:04 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Good starting ground for those who have a seller who wants to sell, and a buyer who wants to buy.  Some negotiations fall off track because of what (seems to be) the silliest of things.  

Oct 10, 2013 11:41 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

I always tell my sellers there is no such thing as an offensive offer. What's offensive is never getting an offer! That being said, I also remind them that receiving an offer is just a door opening towards negotiations and that we might need patience to get to where we want to be.

Oct 10, 2013 09:57 PM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I love the suggestion to start with the positives first and then bring up the area(s) where there is still a need to negotiate. 

Being on the buyer's end of things, only once was one of my buyer's offers responded to in that manner, and it did make a huge difference in setting the tone of negotiation.


Oct 10, 2013 10:11 PM
Joseph Schutz
RE/MAX Preferred - Wilton Manors, FL
A Realtor with Experience You Can Trust!

Wow, thank you everyone for all of your comments and feedback.  They are all great points and I think we all agree that as the listing agent, we must be aware of how we present offers to sellers.  They look to us for guidance and it's always a good policy to be positive and look at the glass as half full.

Oct 13, 2013 10:53 PM