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Evaluating and responding to different offers

Published: Oct 14, 2009

Congratulations - you have received an offer on your home! So how can you evaluate and respond to the offer in a way that protects your interests but doesn't send buyers running for the hills?

The first thing to remember is that all offers are good. Why? Because it shows that a buyer has chosen your home over the massive amount of competition available in the marketplace. Any offer then, regardless of how high, low, or crazy it might be, should be taken as a compliment. Now the harder question - Should you accept the offer?

As a seller, when you receive an offer you always have three choices. First, you can accept the offer - this means subject to the conditions of the sale your home is officially sold. Second, you can reject the offer, and in effect tell the buyer to kindly kiss off. Or third, you can counter the offer. While many sellers instinctively reach for a pen to counter all offers, wise sellers take a deep breath before making this decision.

Many sellers view making a counter offer as a natural part of the sales process, but what many don't realize is that they are really rejecting the buyer's offer first and then presenting a new offer back to the buyer. The trouble with this is, the instant you give the buyer a moment to pause and reconsider their decision, even for a minor point, you run the risk of losing the buyer. Because of this the question that successful sellers have learned to ask themselves first is: Is it really worth a counter offer? This simple question should be the measuring stick with which to evaluate every item you plan to ask for from a buyer. In many cases the risk is not worth the reward.

If you are forced to make a counter offer keep in mind these three tips:

  1. Attempt to understand the buyer's position

    A negotiation is never a one way street. In order to create a sale, both parties must feel they are receiving a good value. Learn as much about the buyer, including their background and reasons for making their initial offer, as possible. By doing so you may able to find common ground that can create a successful sale.

  2. Use the give and take technique

    When making a counter offer, think in terms of, not only what you want, but what you might be willing to give up to make the sale happen. For instance, if you are asking for a higher price, can you help pay the buyer's closing costs or perhaps pay points to help them secure lower payments?

  3. Emphasize the positives

    In writing your counter offer you may want to emphasize the areas that you do agree on before you begin asking for modifications. For instance, point out all the areas of the original offer that are acceptable. This might include the closing date, the possession date, the down payment, the price, the inclusions and exclusions, the financing type, specific conditions or contingencies, or even something as simple as the size of the earnest money deposit.

By taking the time to evaluate each offer and establish a negotiating strategy, based on an unemotional analysis of the market and your needs as a seller, you will be far ahead of your competition.

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