Home Selling in 02140>Question Details

Sarah, Both Buyer and Seller in Cambridge, MA

I am selling FSBO and recieved a very low offer yesterday. We will decline the offer today. What am I?

Asked by Sarah, Cambridge, MA Fri Jul 4, 2008

supposed to do with the written offer and attached checks?

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34
darn realtors, thinking they help people! can you believe it?

really, you do need an agent - commissions are negotiable, and there are limited service agencies out there if you want to do part of this yourself. but coming on line to ask bit by bit advice is gonna get you in trouble eventually. this is very serious business. some people can do it. but 70% of all transactions involve an agent.

come on, agent haters - can you at least respect the fact that we work hard to bring value to the transaction and to help people? even if you don't believe it, we do. we know what we do. i think of all the responders, there is ONE that was actually soliciting business. everyone else here was just trying to help out. our best advice - you need help, more than we can give online.
9 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
If you don't know how to decline an offer, how did you know how to price your house? This "very low offer" may be the market telling you that your price is TOO HIGH. One of those people, what do they call them? Relators? They may be able to help you with this and the multitude of other questions you didn't know enough to ask. It ain't rocket science but it ain't easy.
8 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
Sarah,
You've received very good advice from very good people that are here to give their expertise away in a forum that reflects on their honesty and forthrightness.
Don even took the time to see what advice you'd get from the link provided. Sylvia is absolutely correct. You don't know what you are doing and you are selling the most expensive thing you own.
Everyone has the right to sell their property themselves but most don't have the ability to do it at all. Most are motivated by the desire to save money.
Here is the first bad news the buyers know that and they want to save that money for themselves not for you. The buyer that buys from a FSBO, whether they have representation or not, is not going to give you their money so you can save the brokerage fee. They are going to keep it for themselves.
Here's the next bad news. They are going to try to take advnatage of you and if you don't know the process by gosh I think they can take real advantage of you.
A large part of what we do when in transactions is to seek advantage and exploit it for our clients. I have closed deals at prices that were very advantagous to my client. If you were on the other side OMG.
You've gotten the best advice that any group of professionals can give. Get an agent, preferably a Realtor but get someone to look out for you and help you sell this very valuable asset without being taken advantage of by anyone.
5 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
Jed Lane; Fog…, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
MVP'08
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I agree with the other advice that you should counter the offer. Yes, it's possible, as the others suggest, that maybe the market is trying to tell you that you're overpriced. But maybe you're not overpriced. Maybe the person making the offer was just testing the waters. I often post here that, when making an offer, a buyer shouldn't worry about "insulting" the seller. And I stand by that. On the other hand, sellers shouldn't be "insulted" by a low offer. At the very least, it is an offer. Unlike others who may have viewed your home, this person is saying, "Yes, I could see myself living there. If we can agree on a price, I'm willing to buy." And that's a good thing.To use an analogy, you've got a fish on the line. Can you reel him in?

Even the somewhat Realtor-hostile response from Beeja (saying to discount the advice here and Google for an answer) provided a link to RealtyTrac. The advice there on RealtyTrac says in part:

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In most cases, the first offer you receive will be at least slightly less than your asking price. This is to be expected and does not necessarily mean that you need to take the offer as is or halt all further discussions. A common trap FSBO sellers fall into is the desire to stop all negotiations with a potential buyer simply because they are insulted by a low offer. Keep in mind that a buyer’s initial offer rarely represents the highest price they are willing to pay. Rather than throw away a possible sale, you should take the opportunity to draw up a counteroffer.
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Meanwhile, double-check the value of your property. If you asked a Realtor for comps initially, ask for another CMA. If you used some other method, at least revisit that. Prices and values do change, even if you started off at a reasonable number.

Hope that helps.
5 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Fairfax, VA
MVP'08
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Hi Sarah, Jeannie Feenick here - I am an agent in New Jersey, and as such am not in any way offering my advice in an effort to sway you to hire me. I do not have the local market expertise that could, if you open yourself to the possibility, help you.

In reading over the responses, I would add that the suggestion of offering a counter rather than just killing the deal is a good suggestion. The process of negotiation is much like a game of tennis - why not return the volley and see if you can keep the discussion going.

Best,
Jeannie Feenick
Weichert Realtors
Search and connect at http://www.feenick.com
Web Reference: http://www.feenick.com
5 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
As stated below, simply return all of the paperwork/check. Be sure to indicate "declined" on the offer, and initial it, so that your prospective buyers are have what they need to prepare a more realistic offer. Have you considered a counter offer? If not, you might try it- many buyers go in quite low today, with the expectation that you'll counter with a price that is acceptable. Don't take the offer personally, but make certain that you provide what may be a good (but uninformed) buyer with the opportunity to purchase your home at your terms. You never know! Best to you.
Web Reference: http://optionsrealty.com
5 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
Before declining the offer make a counter offer ( make a copy for yourself). A lot of buyers will test you to see what you will take. If they deny the counter or come back to low then make a copy of the offer and write denied (another copy for yourself) and return the check. Do not sign the original offer. -- I haven't used a realtor since the 1970s and sold the last house (2001) for $15,000 above what the realtors wanted to list it. If you feel like you need a realtor definitely use one.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
Hi Sarah:

Seriously, if you have a difficult time declining an offer as FSBO, you really should engage a Realtor's service. I worry about your doing this by yourself.

Just think about if you have to counter offer back, negotiate, open escrow..,etc. There could be many more questions you have and need answerd along the way!

Sylvia
4 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Novato, CA
MVP'08
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I received a few TDs, and I suspect is because I advised Sarah to engage a Realtor's service. I also understand this is suspicious seeing that I am a Realtor, so it can certainly seem to be self-promotion.

However, I think anybody who is advising Sarah bits and pieces really should take a step back and reconsider. She is not at a stage of researching how to do FSBO, she is in the middle of a contract and she has no idea of what to do on a basic situation - how to decline an offer; this is not considering any other complex situation later - what she really should do considering negotiating, counter offer, decline offer, etc.

I think it is prudent to give advise according to a specific situation. I still feel that if Sarah is asking how to deal with some very basic situation, she really needs professional service. .

Sylvia
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Novato, CA
MVP'08
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Obviously all the respondents but one are trying to get you to hire them as agents, so are not exactly impartial. Try googling for the answer; a search on "for sale by owner decline offer" yielded this site as the 2nd result:

http://www.realtytrac.com/for-sale-by-owner/fsbo-negotiations.html

I can't help you any more than that as I have never sold my own home, but just as one citizen of the world to another--consider the source of your answers.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
Hi Sarah, return the checks and the offer, retaining a copy for your files. Call your real estate attorney and ask the same question and follow his/her guidance.

My experience is that generally the effort to sell on your own yields the result you are getting - very low offers, as buyers calculate in what they think you are saving on real estate commissions right off the top and then keep cutting from there.

I would recommend that you interview a number of agents from a variety of firms in your community and select one that you trust and has local market expertise. I am always amazed at how few people ask for references, and then even fewer who follow up to speak to them. Do both - selling your home rates among the most important transactions of your life - find yourself a pro that can get the job done.

In a declining market, time is not your friend. My advice -- don't lose any more of it by trying to sell on your own. Unless you are fortunate enough to buck the odds, you will likely yield more net proceeds working with an agent who can do the best job to substantiate and negotiate a fair market price.

Good luck to you!

Best,
Jeannie Feenick
Weichert Realtors - New Jersey
Search and connnect at http://www.feenick.com
Web Reference: http://www.feenick.com
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
Good morning Sarah:

If you were a frequent Trulia user, you would be aware of the many, many pitfalls of selling a home without representation.

Please find yourself a great Realtor to work with you.

Happy Fourth!!
3 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
Because........telling her "return the check and write cancelled" on the contract only answers the question she asked.
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My impression was that she was looking for the answer to the question she asked. I also got the impression that when she said "we will decline the offer today", that she had decided to decline the offer. The question did not appear to me to be open to as much interpretation as is being implied.
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As a professional, and a real estate agent, I can tell you there IS more to it than what was asked. Obviously I wasn't the only real estate professional who thought that.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 9, 2008
Hi Sarah,

Did you counter? In most cases, it is worth it to keep the conversation going. Did the buyers submit a pre-approval letter with their offer? Did you look at the entire offer? The merit of an offer is more than simply the price.

If you decline the offer, write that across the offer, make a copy and return the offer and ck to the buyer.

While some sellers can and do successfully sell on their own, there are times when the bottom line net after the sale is less than if you had hired a Realtor. Try to put on the “objective” glasses, take a step back, and evaluate whether you think that you would do better with or without a Realtor. Make the decision that is best for you. Come back and ask more questions; you will find people here who will provide you helpful input.

Regards,
Deborah
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 7, 2008
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Red Bank, NJ
MVP'08
Contact
Why Trulia will fail -- 100s and 100s of great answers ... never one acknowledgement.
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You've been on Trulia an entire month, and you've already managed to determine that it will fail?

Even without acknowledgment, there are plenty of participants and lurkers who benefit from the conversations that ensue after a question is posted. I don't consider that a waste.

I've had calls from lurkers, as have others, referencing our conversations here on Trulia, even though they've never participated in a single thread.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 7, 2008
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in 60201
MVP'08
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Obviously all the respondents but one are trying to get you to hire them as agents, so are not exactly impartial. Try googling for the answer; a search on "for sale by owner decline offer" yielded this site as the 2nd result:

http://www.realtytrac.com/for-sale-by-owner/fsbo-negotiations.html

I can't help you any more than that as I have never sold my own home, but just as one citizen of the world to another--consider the source of your answers.
~~~~~~~~~~
Consider where she came for advice.
Sarah, your attorney may be able to help you.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
Points well taken by the responders.

This is your most valuable asset.

The services provided by a real estate professional will save you aggrevation and provide you with the best advice and in the end the highest price.

Would you represent yourself in a lawsuit?

Call a local realtor today.

All the best!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
Sarah,
Consult Your Trusty F.S.B.O. Manual.Oh,You do not have one? Break Down And Hire a

Professional.Who Knows You Just might End Up With More Money in Your Pocket And Definitely alot less

Stress! P.S. Buyers With a Check and a written offer are few and far between right now.Are You Sure You

Want To Let Them"Get Away".That is where we come in as Professionals(Keeping Deals Together).
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 9, 2008
Sarah noted in the question that she received an offer and will be declining it. Her question was "what am I supposed to do with the written offer and attached checks?" Her response to the other party does not need to include any information on how long the house has been for sale, how much she owes on it, what she paid for it, etc..., and I would be surprised if any Realtor would advise her to include that information in her notice that she is declining the offer. None of that information is typically provided to the other party when declining an offer.

I have no problem with people suggesting she counter, or asking more information from Sarah so that they can try to help her out further, but it is annoying when people do so without making any attempt to answer the question that was asked.
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Because........telling her "return the check and write cancelled" on the contract only answers the question she asked. It does not explain that your first offer is often your BEST OFFER. It is not an informed answer because we do not know if it WAS a good offer. There is a lot more to being a real estate agent than spouting out information automatically. There is actually a thought process behind our answers. In fact, telling Sarah what to do with the written offer and the attached check is a question she should be asking her own attorney. We're not supposed to give legal advice, remember.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 9, 2008
Many of these questions it is not possible to answer without more details. Including this one. What is the offer? How long is the house for sale? How much is the house? Where is it? Why are you selling? What do you owe? What did you pay for it? Frankly, Sarah needs an agent to advise her.
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Sarah noted in the question that she received an offer and will be declining it. Her question was "what am I supposed to do with the written offer and attached checks?" Her response to the other party does not need to include any information on how long the house has been for sale, how much she owes on it, what she paid for it, etc..., and I would be surprised if any Realtor would advise her to include that information in her notice that she is declining the offer. None of that information is typically provided to the other party when declining an offer.

I have no problem with people suggesting she counter, or asking more information from Sarah so that they can try to help her out further, but it is annoying when people do so without making any attempt to answer the question that was asked.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 9, 2008
Hi Sarah,

I always encourage my seller clients to make a counter-offer, regardless of how low their initial offer is. To do so, you can take their written offer and adjust the amounts and any other terms and submit back to the buyers or their agent. Initial the changes.

Try to keep the communication lines going back and forth. Ask for a preapproval letter from their lender, if you don't already have one. Try to find out details about why they are moving... their situation. All of that can help you negotiation with them. Perhaps they will pay more, if you can be flexible with other terms of the deal, etc.

Try not to take anything personal. Remember, the buyer is trying to get the best deal they can and you are trying to get the best price you can. No one can blame either of you for working from opposite ends of the price range.

One other thing, do you have comparable sold properties to use to justify your asking price? If so, you should share those with your potential buyer.

Best wishes,
Christopher Rich - REALTOR
William Raveis Real Estate
Your Fairfield County CT Real Estate Agent
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 9, 2008
For example, it is fine to advise Sarah to hire a realtor based on her limited knowledge of the workings of transaction, but don't do so unless you take the time to actually answer the question she asked. It makes these people sound like the type that would respond to someone's request for the time of day by saying "Time to get a new watch." Nobody likes that person.
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Many of these questions it is not possible to answer without more details. Including this one. What is the offer? How long is the house for sale? How much is the house? Where is it? Why are you selling? What do you owe? What did you pay for it? Frankly, Sarah needs an agent to advise her. Even with these details it is better for her to have her own fiduciary rather than asking for advice of strangers on the internet. Half the people that reply aren't professionals unless "troll" is a professional designation.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 9, 2008
Why Trulia will fail -- 100s and 100s of great answers ... never one acknowledgement.
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Responses are often acknowledged, and I have thanked those who have helped me. I have also emailed leads to Realors on this site that appear to be knowledgeable.

The type of responses that will never be appreciated are the ones that make no attempt to answer the question. For example, it is fine to advise Sarah to hire a realtor based on her limited knowledge of the workings of transaction, but don't do so unless you take the time to actually answer the question she asked. It makes these people sound like the type that would respond to someone's request for the time of day by saying "Time to get a new watch." Nobody likes that person.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 9, 2008
There have been a couple who came back and thanked us and updated us. Unfortunately many of the threads are infiltrated by trolls.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 7, 2008
All great answers. After the offer expires, it's a dead deal. I would mail the check back with a confirmation of receipt. Unfortunately, many of the people who look at for sale by owner properties don't qualify to work with a buyer agent (or are not serious enough to), so you're left having to deal with unreasonable offers. Consequently (with respect), it results in the blind leading the blind. Call anytime, one my team members has sold over 60 condos in Cambridge and Somerville during the past 2.5 yrs.
Best regards,
Mike
C: 617-610-0716
Web Reference: http://www.mphughes.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
Because........telling her "return the check and write cancelled" on the contract only answers the question she asked.
----
My impression was that she was looking for the answer to the question she asked. I also got the impression that when she said "we will decline the offer today", that she had decided to decline the offer. The question did not appear to me to be open to as much interpretation as is being implied.

To be clear, I think that it is important to give advice and to make the the poster aware of things they may not have considered, but to do so without answering the question (or telling the poster that real estate agents are not permitted to provide legal advice) is not very helpful. This is not an isolated event, it is common on these postings. Someone can ask what the best elementary school is in Peoria, IL, only to have someone reply "Have you considered living in South Bend, IN."
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 9, 2008
I take the Bayou's point and without looking at my first post I'd like to think I naswered the original question. This raises a very good point in all communication. Listen for the question. In all of my years working in client service positions and training and managing client service workers I've seen over and over the rush to answer the percieved question being formulated before the question is even finished. It takes focused listening to actually hear and understand the question.
That said, it is also very possible that many of us could hear a cry for help from Sarah. She doesn't understand the contract timed expiration, how to counter an offer, or what to do with the check. She needs to have eduacated herself on the process quite a bit more, we'd all agree.
But if the question was just as straight foward as stated, then write a letter back saying declined or write on the offer declined or just send it all back letting the buyer know it is rejected.
But that doesn't start a good discussion does it?
Focused listening is a skill that we all need to work on and be reminded to do periodically. We all listen to questions and conversations from our own frame of reference and we answer from that frame but it's possible to miss the intended meaning sometimes.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 9, 2008
Jed Lane; Fog…, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
MVP'08
Contact
Cross out any words that say I accept this offer and replace it with I reject this offer and sign it .
Good Luck!

Susan Karp
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 9, 2008
Interesting how some feel they have the need to determine how the conversation flows.
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This is the type of quick response I'd like to see.
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Many of the threads I've been involved in have been responded to. I've also been contacted by people that are not posters but are moving to the area.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jul 8, 2008
Jed Lane; Fog…, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
MVP'08
Contact
Don Tepper,

Far and away the best answer; as per usual.

-John
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 7, 2008
Hmm ... time spent on a site to determine credibility - interesting. Spunk noted and appreciated. This is the type of quick response I'd like to see. Basically, I'd like to know how the store ends. I think it's fair to request a response, so I will. I expected this forum to be more conversational than a one-sided know it all rant.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 7, 2008
Why Trulia will fail -- 100s and 100s of great answers ... never one acknowledgement. As I continue to check the answers, I have yet to see one grateful questioner. Although I enjoy sharing my knowledge, soon the answers will cease due to ungrateful takers. Would love to hear if anyone has ever heard from back from the originator. I have decided to post this question if no response in 7 days. I think that it’s only fair for anyone sharing a thought to get a response. I urge ALL agents to share this same expectation …
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 7, 2008
Very simple answer. It depends in large part on what the asking price was. I tell all my clients that if they visit a FSBO to ask how the FSBO owner arrived at their price. If the FSBO owner says that they used realtor-assisted sales comparables, then tell the FSBO that the most they could ask is realtor-assisted price minus 5% to 6%. And they should expect to pay 90% to 95% percent of that. Why should a FSBO owner reap the profits of a broker-assisted sale without paying a brokerage (and expecting the buyer to)?

In other news, I have noticed that FSBO buyers assume that the owners are inexperienced and thus an easier mark than represented sellers. They will try low ball offers and other nonsense.

Also, since I work in Massachusetts and you are selling in Massachusetts, there are a number of required disclosures that you may or may not know about. If your property was built before 1978, lead paint disclosure is a big liability issue. Underground storage tank? Asbestos? Big trouble if these are not disclosed properly. Also, if you are selling a condo, 6D etc. is an issue. As the rest say, much better to get a good listing agent. Best luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 7, 2008
Return the checks Good luck http://www.lynn911.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 4, 2008
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