“Low Ball” Offers
In every real estate market, there are buyers who make offers that are far below the current market value of the property. How should you react if your agent brings you one of these “low ball” offers?
If your home is priced very close to its fair market value, you can simply reject the offer and be reasonably confident that a better one will appear. However, if you have priced your home higher than other comparable homes in the neighborhood, the offer may not be unreasonable.
Ask your real estate agent for advice about the buyer’s overall strategy. Do they really want your house or will they move on to another property if you make a counter offer? Can they afford to pay a higher price? Are there ways to close the gap with a small owner take-back, or with terms that will increase your bottom line? Take a hard look at your asking price and explore all your options before saying “no”, especially if you are selling in a buyer’s market.
A Tough Sale
You found the perfect home and you made a very low offer. The sellers responded with a counter-offer which was several thousand dollars lower than their asking price. You came back with a slightly higher bid, and they came down some more. After many days of back and forth, you finally reached a meeting of the minds, and you are very pleased with the results.
If you have driven a hard bargain in purchasing a house, be sensitive to the seller’s feelings as the transaction proceeds. They may be suffering from the impact of a rough negotiation. Try to minimize any additional requests you might make of the sellers. As you move toward your closing date, keep in mind that the sellers may not share your elation. If you are considerate and avoid making excessive demands, you can help everyone walk away from the transaction feeling satisfied with the outcome.
Accepting an Offer
Your real estate agent has just brought you an offer on your home, and you want to think about it. You would like your agent to contact the other people who have shown an interest in your home. Whether your home has been listed for three days or three months, there is always a desire to hold out for a better offer, and sellers can feel considerable resistance to making a decision.
Some buyers will include in the offer a deadline for getting a response, but the seller should respond to an offer quickly even if a deadline is not specified. The interval between when an offer is submitted and when a response is made is a crucial period because the buyers are free to withdraw from the transaction during this time. Even though they are mentally landscaping your yard and arranging their things in your rooms, they may also be afraid that they will get the house, and are, therefore, extremely vulnerable to buyers’ remorse.
You have found a house that makes your heart skip a beat–it is in the right location and has all the amenities you want. The price is the only thing that is keeping you from making an offer, because you feel that it is more than you can afford. How can you maximize the possibility that the owners will accept an offer that is much lower than their asking price?
The first thing you should do is to make the offer as “clean” as possible by not asking for special contingencies. Avoid making demands on the sellers for minor repairs, such as cutting down the dead tree in the back yard or leaving custom drapes. Be as flexible as possible about scheduling the move-in date to accommodate the seller’s plans. Finally, you can offer a larger-than-usual deposit to persuade the sellers that you are a serious buyer and to make it harder for them to “just say no”. Each situation is different, but the “cleaner” the offer, the more likely the sellers are to accept it.
Evaluating Multiple Bids
When you are faced with multiple offers on your home, how do you choose the best one? Your real estate agent can help you compare and contrast the terms of each proposal.
Look at the price of each offer and evaluate your net profit. Next, consider the terms of each contract. How “clean” is each offer? Are there contingencies that affect the sale, such as the buyers needing to sell another property before they can finalize the purchase of your home? Can you work out a mutually agreeable date for you to move out and for the buyers to move in? Can you get reasonable assurances that the buyers will be able to qualify for the financing they will need?
Your real estate agent can help you weigh the relative merits of each offer, so that you can accept–or counter–the best one, and line up another as an alternative.
Is First Always Best?
Your home has been listed for just a few days, and your real estate agent calls with great news. The people who looked at the house last night have come in with an offer to buy it! When the agents arrive to present the offer, you are excited and hopeful. As they explain the price and terms, however, you feel that the price is a little too low and that the offer contains some terms that will be inconvenient for you to meet. Should you try to work it out or wait for something better? Work it out!
Often the first offer to come in is the best one. When a house is fresh on the market, there is usually a flurry of activity and the buyers who see it during the first few days of the listing are likely to be very interested. If you are fortunate enough to get a solid offer right away, it will probably be to your advantage to accept it or try to work out a compromise.
Offers and Counter Offers
Many of the offers we submit for prospective buyers aren’t exactly what the sellers want. The price may be lower than they are asking or there might be terms included in the offer that will require negotiation. What happens after the offer is submitted?
The seller’s real estate agent will present the offer to the sellers, along with the buyer’s qualifications. If the sellers accept the offer, then a purchase agreement is written and signed by both parties. If the sellers counter the offer, the next action is initiated by the buyers when they make a response, either accepting the counter offer or countering it with yet another figure. If you want to buy a particular house, your chances of succeeding are greater if your initial offer is as close to the asking price as possible. You could save money by engaging in lengthy negotiations, but you run the risk of losing the home if a more attractive offer comes in from another buyer.
Responding to Low Offers
The beginning of negotiations is usually the end of many months of hard work for the buyer or seller. The work ahead requires skill in order to maintain a strong position.
Sellers can lose their advantage if they do not counter an offer that a buyer has made. Even if the opening offer is beneath what the seller feels is reasonable, it is advisable for the seller to respond with a slight reduction from the asking price. The most important component in negotiating is good communication.
The best way to handle a low offer is to counter it with definite terms that are favorable to the seller. A counter offer has two advantages: 1) it keeps the buyer interested, and 2) it moves the negotiation forward and gives the buyer the opportunity to submit another offer that the seller is more likely to prefer.