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Four Potential Home Seller Responses to an Offer

smiling woman holding a contract and exulting because she's good at her work

How you handle an offer to purchase has a direct bearing on successfully negotiating the eventual sale. This blog “Four Potential Home Seller Responses to an Offer” contains information critical to the entire negotiating process because it outlines different ways to react to an offer to purchase. How the seller responds to the initial offer has tremendous influence on the final outcome, so reviewing these options with the seller prior to offering the property for sale helps prepare them for the entire negotiating process prior to actually having an offer to present.

Four Possibilities

  1. Accept the Offer. Time is critical in handling any offer, and if the offer is acceptable to the seller, it should be signed immediately and delivered to the buyer’s agent ASAP. Verbal acceptance is notsufficient; the offer should be delivered in some written form, whether digital or hard copy. “Sleeping on the contract” is a dangerous idea, and the listing agent should steer sellers away from doing so in advance of listing the property for sale so action is immediate when an acceptable offer comes in.
  2. Counter the Offer. All offers should be in writing! Making verbal offers over the phone is worthless and requires no commitment on the part of the buyer or seller; neither agent should initiate such behavior. Changes should be made on the existing contract, initialed by the seller to make them legal, and the sellers should sign the contract. If the changes are numerous, it’s a good idea to list them on a separate document just for clarification.
  3. Reject Softly. If the offer is a lowball offer, or if it’s not acceptable for other reasons, try rejecting the offer by inviting the buyer to make another offer while also indicating to them that the sellers may be willing to make some considerations, such as paying closing costs, providing a home warranty, etc. A really good technique is to include a letter with the rejected offer thanking the buyer for making an offer and stating, “We would be open to negotiating some of the items you want, but we are firm on the price and hope you will consider making another offer.” This is an especially good technique if the property has been on the market for an extended time with very few/no offers.
  4. REJECT! If the offer is one of those not worth the paper it’s written on, it’s probably not worthy of a counteroffer.

The BIG NO-NO

Negotiating an offer electronically is a bad practice for many reasons, but negotiating an offer without a contract is an absolute NO-NO. It usually starts out simply, with the buyer’s agent calling the listing agent to ask if the seller will take a lesser price, pay closing costs, etc. Let’s be honest: if the buyers are interested enough in the property to buy it, they should be willing to submit a contract—and that’s what the listing agent should request from the inquiring agent. The way to find out what the seller will do is to MAKE A WRITTEN OFFER!