Accepting an Offer

Purchase Negotiations

If you are selling your home, you should be prepared for the day your first offer comes in. When your real estate agent calls to say there is an offer on your home, you will naturally get excited. When your agent describes the offer, you will probably experience an adrenaline rush. Whether the offer is good or bad, you should just remain calm--and discuss a counter-offer with your agent. The negotiations of a purchase begin with the buyer's ideal terms and a counter offer that communicates the seller's ideal terms.

A good agent will look beyond the price when evaluating an offer. If the buyers' financial qualifications are shaky or the offer includes potentially problematic terms or conditions, your real estate agent should be there to minimize any risk to you and to address these items in your counter-offer. Your agent's job is not to make a decision for you, but to be sure that you understand fully what the offer includes and what is expected.

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.

Know Your Price Range

As a homebuyer, you may have found the perfect new house for your growing family, but what if it is a little out of your price range? You might list your current home for more than it is worth and be lucky enough to find a qualified buyer who is willing to pay the price, but it is impossible to know in advance what your home will sell for.

If you want to sell your home quickly, have a frank and detailed conversation with your real estate agent to determine the best price for the house. Setting your price within 5% of the fair market value of your home greatly increases your chances of getting solid offers that will result in a relatively quick sale.

Don't buy and sell so close to your target amount that you become anxious when the numbers don't meet your expectations. There may be other approaches, such as adjustable rate mortgages or owner financing, to increase your buying power and get you into that new home. When you are selling one home and buying another, you will need more than good luck. You will need a highly professional and experienced real estate agent who can give you solid advice on how to make the transaction work for your particular requirements.

Evaluating Multiple Bids

Competition for homes is high in hot markets. When you are a seller 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.

A Tough Sale

Here is a situation that many buyers have experienced. After searching for weeks, 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.