How to Handle a Home Seller’s Counter Offer

By Kristen Kish

|10 min read

A real estate counter offer is generated by the seller after a potential buyer submits an offer to purchase. However, the offer is inclusive of terms that are not agreeable. Furthermore, counter offer addresses the following issues:

  • Increasing the earnest money deposit size
  • Changing the total consideration to be paid
  • Changing the closing/possession date

The home sellers might want to change the contingency time frame and have the deposit released early.

Seller Countering a Home Buyer's Offer.

How to Handle a Home Seller’s Counter Offer?

Let’s say you’re a potential home buyer and you present the home seller with an offer. Now let’s say the seller hits you with a counter offer. The counter offer either includes changes to one or more items such as:

  • The closing date
  • Sales price
  • Closing cost contribution
  • Contingencies requested by the home buyer
  • Earnest money deposit

The sales price is the most common item that home sellers often want to use when making a counter offer.

They might want to change it by offering a price that is between your offer and the asking price. Or they might simply counter back with their original asking price.

Now once the seller presents a counter offer, how you handle it can make a huge difference. It is advisable to negotiate the seller’s counteroffer depending on the type of market that you’re in. For example, if you know that it’s a seller’s market that the home seller has already received multiple offers then you need to tread carefully. This is because if you’re offering a low amount and simultaneously asking for a lot of contingencies then the seller could reject your offer and consider another.

Therefore, when you negotiate a counter offer with a seller, it’s important that you act reasonably and not irrationally. Remember that, it is not personal it is business. Since both parties want something out of the deal, therefore both parties must meet halfway if not more.

Seller’s Market vs. Buyer’s Market

However, you can have an upper hand in this situation if it is a buyer’s market. This is because when it is a buyer’s market, you can have much more leverage in terms of your purchase agreement. So, if the seller hasn’t received an offer in over 3 months, they will be willing to negotiate with you.

Also, they may accept a lower sales price along with a shorter escrow period and even a contribution to the closing cost. Furthermore, they may even take back their counter offer. Remember that a counter offer always has an expiration date. This means that if you don’t or fail to respond to the seller before the date of expiration, the offer you have made will become void and then the seller can accept another offer from someone else.

What to Do with the Counteroffer?

If you’re completely fine with the conditions that the seller makes in their counter offer then you can go ahead and sign it to accept the offer. However, if you don’t fully agree to it then the best way to go about it is to involve your real estate agent. Discuss the specifics of the counteroffer with the agent and see if there are certain parts that you can accept.

In some situations when the counter offer just seems unreasonable, then you too can make a counter offer to the seller by presenting them with a new price or by offering them a different set of contingency dates. Here it is important to understand that you need to stay within the confines of your preapproved mortgage. This is because once you may a counter offer you will be obligated to go through it in case the seller accepts it. So, you have to be 100 percent sure that you’re comfortable with the offer that you’re making.

In some situations, the seller may not respond to this is when you can make another counter offer to see if you can nudge them into negotiating. However, in these situations, we suggest you talk to your real estate agent for help and guidance. Ask them to find out what is more important to the seller. In this way, you’ll know about the seller’s motivation and it will be easier for you to handle a home seller counter offer.

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Kristen Kish

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Kristen is the Content Marketing Manager for FastExpert Inc. She has been writing professionally for 4 years and knows the Real Estate market like the back of her hand. She's obsessed with dogs and all things Disney related.

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