Home Buying in Dekalb>Question Details

Christopher C…, Home Owner in Cortland, IL

How low of an offer can I make without insulting the seller?

Asked by Christopher C Weiler, Cortland, IL Wed Feb 15, 2012

This is a repost of a question I had asked last year. Im not sure how but it got deleted, as did all the answers. I can happily say I no longer require advice on this, however I know many people were answering and participating in the discussion so I wanted to make sure it was reposted.

The original question referred to a house priced at $185K in DeKalb, IL. I was contemplating a bid of $163, based on comps in the area. I will post what actually happened with this in a subsequent answer.

Help the community by answering this question:


OK, so after seeing this property on two seperate Open Houses, I really really liked it. Tremendous yard, awesome sunroom, great neighborhood...just awesome. The price at the first Open House, which was in May 2011, was $187,900 (on the market about 2 months at that pricepoint according to the Selling Agent). The 2nd Open House, which was in mid-June, saw the price drop to $185,500. At this point, I was truly in love with the home and thats when I asked this question.

However based on the many foreclosures, Short Sales, and regular comps in the neighborhood I didnt feel the $185K pricetag was appropriate (and neither did my agent). So I was contemplating a first time bid of around $163K, but was worried if bidding that much below the list price would be insulting to the seller.

The answers I received on here, as well as from my agent when we went for a private showing, convinced me to go a little bit higher just to get things rolling. So, 3 days after asking this question I put in an offer of $171,900. A day later, they came back with a counter of $184,900 along with a note from their Selling Agent that read "Thank you for your offer. We would love to work with you on the price of this great home, but we're not giving it away".

It was at that point where I was the one insulted. Their counter, along with their note, made it clear they wanted to play hardball. And in this market, with Short Sales literally up and down every street in the neighborhood, I was literally disgusted. At $172K I already felt I was near the top of my limit, and I had no intention of going above $174K. So I walked away.

About a week later (and after seeing about a dozen more homes in person), I found a house with more room, more amenities, and quite frankly in a better area...all for a list price of $164900. My wife was in love with it, and so we went ahead and offered list. Fast-forward to August and we closed the deal, and I love my house. (In hindsight, I probably should have haggled the price down a little on this place too, but with the way my wife fell in love with it I just wasnt willing to let it get away at the time).

As for the other house, Ive kept tabs on it. In August, while we were under contract here, they dropped to $175. In September, it went to $168. October, $159. And in November it listed as a Short Sale for $149,900. At some point in December it was taken off the market altogether because I havent been able to find it, and I know it wasnt sold because it doesnt show up in the sold listings.

Bloomberg is predicting that home prices will go down another 5-7% this year in IL, as a new glut of foreclosures hit the market. And thats evident in my neighborhood as there are a few vacant houses with For Sale signs out there even in the dead of winter. The market conditions are not going to improve anytime soon around here. So the moral to this story is ANY offer is better than NO offer at all. Sellers dont have the luxury of being insulted anymore...if you get a bid, you should feel extremely lucky and be willing to work with whatever that number is. The owners of that first home had a bona fide bid of $172000 on their plate, and because they chose to play games they now sit with a place they couldnt even move for $30000 less than that.

In this market, the buyer holds all the cards and as a seller you need to understand that. If you insult the buyer, they can and WILL walk down the street to the next home, because Lord knows there's a ton of homes to see.

Anyone else who wants to restart this discussion thread, please feel free to chime in. As the Spring selling season begins, I think this is a valid subject that should be discussed among Agents and Sellers alike. Having been through both sides of it last year, and knowing what this extremely depressed market is like firsthand, it bears some real discussion.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 15, 2012
Great posting! Quite helpful!
Flag Mon Feb 10, 2014
Flag Mon Dec 10, 2012
I agree with Tom, if you look at it percentage wise...it's not to far off from the asking price. For DeKalb County, the homes on the market that are priced competitively will sell within 92%-98% of the asking price. As for a distressed sale (short-sale or foreclosure) you may see things selling at 100%+ of the asking price.

As for insulting the sellers, it's always a case by case scenario. Some sellers/agents find things insulting, but I feel this day in age, you should try and work with ANY offer that comes to the table. Sometimes buyers are just "testing the water" and will offer a low bid, but, in fact are willing to come up in price. I always keep things professional, to see if the two parties can come to an agreement of terms or not. If not, everyone moves on.

Great discussion!
Alison Rosenow
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 26, 2012
Sounds like the seller wants to keep their home and not sell it to you. My advice is look for another home, you will probably find one you like better. Homes that are priced right to start are selling for about 97% if the list price in Minnesota. Your 1st offer was about 92% so they should have viewed that as a good offer and negotiated better with you.

Good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 15, 2012
This is business, not personal. Why do you care if you insult the seller? But at the same time, realize, that they may not agree with your price. Even though this is a buyer's market, certain price and geographical areas are very competitive. I always say, make an offer based on what the home is worth and how much you want it. If you don't care if someone else gets it, you can offer whatever you want. But if you low ball and someone else swoops in with another offer and you are mad, don't blame anyone but yourself. And by the way, low balling usually doesn't work on short sales, bank or government sellers. But you just never know, you can get a good deal. Work with a professional on what they think the home is worth, what you can or want to pay and work from there.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 15, 2012
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