When Not to Counter an Offer

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Success Realty

If you are a listing agent, I ask you...When do you NOT counter an offer you receive?  

If you are a buyer's agent - do you ever hint that you're hoping for a counter?  


As an agent who represents bothy buyers and sellers I say there is never an offer you can't counter.

Seriously - how much time does it take?  With automated forms and electronic signatures you really don't need to spend more than maybe 15 minutes on a counter offer and you might find it's worth it.

We've all received, and  maybe written, seriously rotten offers.  We received an offer once maybe $15,000 below list price.  That was almost 10% of the total price of the house.  We countered back at full price - they came up $5,000 - we came down $500.  Silly game, right? For two sides who are never really going to meet?  
Here's the catch.  While we were going back and forth we received another offer.  This gave us the ability to stop the current negotiation and go back to both for a highest and best.  The first slipped away into the night - the second came up and we made a deal.

There were no tricks or games involved in the multiple offer - we had 2 active offers on the table.  There was nothing deceiving about what was going on.  We made phones calls and explained the situation.

This case it worked out for our seller.  Actually it came to an acceptable level - they weren't thrilled with anything but to be done with a house they had been done with for a while (seems more than a few folks move away for their retirement long before really thinking through what they plan to do with their current house).  

So what if an offer comes in low.  There isn't an offer that isn't worth countering.  It's my opinion of course.  Just because a buyer wants to "try" a lower price doesn't mean they won't come up.  It looks very similar to a seller wanting to "try" a higher price...it's the process that brought them to where they are now.  

I challenge you - the next silly offer you get write a counter.  What's the worst that will happen? The buyer rejects the counter?  Buy me a bandaid.

Comments (4)

Suzanne De Vita
Online Associate Editor

I wonder if others share the same opinion. You've given us something to think about!

Jul 22, 2014 02:13 AM
Jim Beitz
Keller Williams Success Realty - East Layton, UT

I am always curious about the opinion of others.  Sharing ideas makes us all better.

Jul 23, 2014 04:30 AM
Jon Kolsky
Kolsky Realty & Management - Long Beach, CA
Licensed California Real Estate Broker

Utah Hassle Free Group ~ counter away is my motto... Great post!

Sep 04, 2014 03:07 AM
Claude Labbe
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

Countering, be it from the seller or the buyer, keeps the conversation going.  At times, that points on other angles that can be used, besides pricing.

For instance, my buyer in September, made a purchase for $80k less than asking.....but.....it was cash, it closed in 2 weeks, and we allowed the seller to stay in the home for another 6 weeks....because she was in the middle of a wedding and didn't have time to deal with the home sales process.

Money was important, but more important was the mental energy with "the home is sold and I can worry about moving after the wedding".

So yes...countering allows conversations which can benefit both sides.

Oct 27, 2014 10:37 AM