Home Selling Strategies: The Art Of The Counter Offer, When And How Much

Counteroffers don't have to be tricky. It's all about timing, being flexible and knowing your bottom line.

When you put your house up for sale, you decide on a particular price you want the home to sell for. Most likely, you'd be happy to come close to that number. And if you get an offer for the asking price (and perhaps even more), you'd be thrilled. But the reality is that many buyers don't offer the asking price. The buyer might be stretching it financially as it is to get into that price range, or might be testing the waters to see how serious you are about your asking price. Either way, without a way to see into the buyer's head you don't know the buyer's motives. You can only go on your own instincts and needs as the home seller.

When you receive an offer from a buyer, remain positive. Whether you like that offer or not, it's a good sign that someone is interested in your property. Look at the whole offer, not just the price. Look at what terms the buyer is asking for, when he wants to close the sale and so on.

It may take you some time to think the whole offer over before you decide how to proceed. Or it may take you mere moments before you decide the buyer is way off. Before you do anything, take a deep breath. There's a lot of money at stake in any real estate transaction.

Don't Respond Immediately

Besides the time it takes you to mull over the offer presented you, there should also be time set aside to draft up a counteroffer and then more time to get it into the buyer's hands. When submitting the offer, the buyer most likely presented you with anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days to accept the offer or make a counteroffer. The amount of time depends on the situation. You should make the most of this time given to you.

One reason to not accept or make a counteroffer immediately is that you may receive another offer. In today's hot real estate market, many sellers are receiving multiple offers, and you could be one of those. Think about it. You receive an offer. Everything seems okay. You decide to accept it. And then you receive a second offer, even better than the first one. But now you're stuck with the first offer since you accepted it.

By not responding immediately, you are allowing time to receive any other offers sent your way. You are also giving yourself the maximum amount of time to respond with a thoughtful counteroffer, instead of something that was quickly thrown together. You want your counteroffer to encompass everything you need and want in regards to the sale of your home, and it may take you a little time to make sure everything is right there in black and white.

Do make sure, however, that the counteroffer is sent on time. It should be sent to the buyer before the deadline passes. Make sure to give the buyer a heads-up that counteroffer is being sent via fax, mail or however it will be sent. If wires get crossed and the buyer doesn't receive the counteroffer in time, you may be out of luck.

Think "Flexible"

The price of your home is just one item to deal with when selling your home. It is an important item, to be sure, but there are many other items to consider. Does the buyer want to take possession of the property before you can possibly make the move? Does the buyer want your favorite wagon wheel in the front yard thrown into the deal? Does the buyer want you to pay for all the inspections? Look through the offer carefully and be reasonable when you create your counteroffer. The more flexible you are in dealing with the buyer, the more likely the buyer will be flexible with you. If the buyer made an offer below your asking price, but was willing to pay for all closing costs, perhaps it makes financial sense to accept the offer, rather than go with a higher offer where you have to pay for certain items out of pocket. Crunch the numbers before you make your counteroffer and make sure that you are making a good deal. You want to look out for your own interests, of course, but you should also be fair in your dealings with a reasonable buyer.

Know Your Bottom Line

When you priced your home to sell, you most likely came up with a dollar amount that would be the least amount acceptable to you in your particular situation. Stick with that number. It may be tempting to go with that first offer. In fact, many real estate agents adhere to the adage that "the first offer is usually the best." In some cases, that may be true. But not all. If the offer made is ridiculously low, you can choose to ignore it, or you can choose to make a counteroffer. Some buyers lowball an offer because they want to see what they can get away with. They want to test the waters and see if a seller is desperate. But if you present a counteroffer with a reasonable figure, you may find a willing and able buyer who is serious about doing business with you.

Counteroffers are part of the negotiating process in a real estate transaction and should be looked upon as such. It's all about give and take. Negotiate in your favor, but with an attitude of fairness and you'll make the whole transaction a lot simpler!

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