The Realtor is not likely the one advising the bank on whether to accept the offer or not. The agent in a short sale works for the seller not the bank. The bank still has to approve the sale because they are the one accepting a loss, which is why the counter is from the bank. At this time, they are not willing to accept the loss your offer costs them.
It is difficult to understand why the banks make some of the decisions they make. I personally have had short sale listings that received full price offers that the bank did not accept. After going to sheriff sale and reselling with an REO agent they bank sold at 1/3 the offer price they had when I listed the home.
Just one of the reasons I don't take short sale listings anymore.
The seller or listing agent likely feels that the home is listed at the fair market value and if it is, it will sell. If not, at some point they will lower it or accept your counter offer some time in the future.
What made this situation strange was this house was regularly listed for about 1 and a 1/2 with no prior offers. Reason being, it is in a rural area and not convenient to drive to civilization although it is a really nice house. Coupled with the fact no house within a 5 mile radius even sold within $50k of it's list price. Tax records show $150k less than asking price. We are perplexed that a counter would be the original asking price. We spoke to 3 different lenders because this house would potentially qualify for USDA loan. None of the 3 would lend out anywhere near the asking price. They would lend out closer to the tax records and that was what we bid.
Unfortunately our realtor and theirs work for the same company. If we were lower than the bank's target price, then we would have expected a counter to reflect that. We are dealing with a local bank which they should know what the average home prices are.
If the house goes into foreclosure, would the selling realtor be on the hook for advising their clients to turn away a potential interested buyer?
The seller wants to get the highest bid possible so that both you and the seller has the best chance possible of getting the bank to approve the short sale. If the seller is countering now, your offer may be behind other bids or the seller doesn't believe your offer would be high enough for the bank to approve.
As for whether the price makes sense, only you and your Realtor can determine that based on your assessment of a fair market price.