Crossroads Finder Network

Evaluating offers and negotiating


The dream scenario for someone selling his or her home is a long line of prospective buyers shouting at the top of their lungs in a protracted bidding war for the home.

Unfortunately, that rarely happens.

Since the odds are against that taking place, it is best to have a firm grip on what you will consider an acceptable offer for your home.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when evaluating offers:
  • Is the offer at or near the asking price? Is the offer above the asking price?
  • Has the buyer included money-eating discounts and costs in the fine print of the offer?
  • What are the alternatives to the buyer’s offer?
  • Does the owner have enough time to wait for other offers?
  • What if no other offers are received?
  • What if several offers are received?

The best way to sort through the questions is to rely on the advice of a real estate professional, someone who is familiar with the market and the factors that influence it.

Buyers (and sellers) have three choices in any proposed real estate transaction: 1) No thanks; 2) I’ll take it; 3) I’m interested, but here’s my offer.

The third choice, the one most frequently used, will initiate a series of counter-offers between the buyer and seller. A counter-offer is nothing more than a new offer. Negotiating is a natural part of any real estate deal. Unlike traditional negotiations, there should not be a "winner" or "loser" in the process. Both sides need to be ready to compromise. Remember, it’s not winner take all, and a seller should not take personally any comments made by a buyer. It’s just business, pure and simple.

Buyers should be treated with respect, and homeowners should never lose sight of either their best interest or their baseline transaction requirement, the standards unique to each owner and which must be met for the home to be sold.

You want your home to attract multiple offers, giving you some flexibility when it comes to choosing a buyer. It is important if you use a real estate agent to make sure your listing agreement provides that your home be included in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) within 24 hours.

A buyer is not obligated to accept the highest offer. You may want to sell to a better qualified buyer or seek more attractive terms.

You are free to counter as many offers as you want, but experts advise that you be careful. If you accidentally accept more than one offer, you’ll be legally obligated to sell the home to two buyers. Experts advise using a standard counter-offer form that stipulates the counter-offer isn’t accepted until it is signed by the buyer and accepted by you to help avoid this.

Sources for these stories include: Coldwellbanker.com, Moving.com, Federal Citizen Information Center Home Page, Realtor.com, Homestore.com, homebuilder.com, forsalebyowner.com, San Diego Association of Realtors, Monstermoving.com, Interest.com, Century21.com and Amsouth.com.