“What do I do when I get an offer?” That’s a common question from my sellers looking to negotiate the sale of their homes. If the offer is at or above your asking price, the answer may be easy. But remember, money is not only one consideration. It’s possible that you may prefer a lower offer with better financing, or a stronger buyer, or a more convenient settlement date. When all factors are favorable and the price is right, set the contract and reel your buyer quickly.
Negotiation is an art where you might give and take over price, terms, special conditions, contingencies, or closing costs. Here are some tips to help you throughout the process:
Aim for a sale
Remember, while your aim is to get as much as you can for your home, the buyer’s aim is to find your lowest acceptable price. In the end, however, you’re both angling for the same catch: a sale on the best possible terms for both of you.
Evaluate the buyer
By requesting a pre-approval letter, find out whether the buyer can afford to purchase your home. You will gain peace of mind knowing your buyer is qualified to pay the price you agree upon.
Keep communications on an agreeable level. At all stages of negotiation, be as flexible as possible. Don’t lose your cool – even if your buyer gets tense – or you might lose your sale.
When offers come in, they may contain complicated terminology, sometimes even two or three addenda. They should be carefully considered in person either at my real estate office or in the quiet of your home. Unless you are out of town, avoid discussing contracts on the phone.
Consider all offers
Remember, you have three basic choices:
- You can accept the offer
- Reject it
- Or make a counteroffer with an alternative that suits you
Consider all written offers signed by the potential buyer, but never sign more that one – you might end up paying two commissions or in court with an irate loser. Give consideration to every offer, even if it’s lower than your asking price. Outright rejection is seldom wise, unless, the offer is so ridiculous, you know the buyer is simply “fishing”. With my counsel, you might make a counteroffer closer to your asking price. That will seem fair to the buyers and will let them know, while you are not inflexible, neither are you so anxious to sell, you’ll take anything.
When buyers make offers, they are in the mood to buy. But moods change. Be sure to respond immediately, even with the counter. Buyers are known to get “buyers’ remorse” in the middle of the night. Don’t delay responding if you really want that sale now. Keep mum, of course, about the minimum price you’d accept, but keep the dialog going. It’s not unusual to exchange two or three counteroffers. The goal is to find a meeting of the minds.
Rely on your agent
Rely on me to keep negotiations moving forward. All real estate agents are required by law to bring you any offer – no matter how low. Knowing what you want from the sale, I’m in a unique position to help negotiations along. By relaying your counteroffers, I can depersonalize the delicate money discussions and keep negotiations flowing toward eventual agreement. After all, as your representative, I want to see you get the highest price the buyer is willing to pay.
Exercise confidence and patients as the buyer weights the counteroffers. Be forthcoming with all information requested and call attention to all areas of agreement. Be positive. When disagreements occur, iron out all the small negotiation areas before getting down to any real stumbling block later when most items are agreed upon.
As the bidding gets close to your acceptable price, you might offer some extras – to make a higher price acceptable to the buyer: the inclusion in the sale of draperies, lawn furniture, riding mower, the barbecue grill – whatever you don’t mind giving up.
Take care with contingencies.
In drawing up your contract, consider requests for contingencies carefully. Contingencies – stipulations such as obtaining financing or home inspection – are typically used to smooth acceptance of a contract without delaying the buying decision. Each contingency must me satisfied before the sale is final and should include a time limit for work to be completed.
When you’ve landed the buyer, your signed acceptance of a written offer becomes your sales contract. Except for removing a few contingencies, this document is the binding basis for the sale.
When you ready to put your home on the market, contact me, and I will help you net the best offer.
And please don’t forget to download my Seller’s Guide!