Blowing Your Counter Offer

Published: 10th April 2008
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Whether we will admit it or not, we all think we are pretty clever. This can manifest in many ways. In real estate, it often happens when a seller blows their counter offer to a buyer.

A real estate transaction comes around in a time tested manner. The seller woos buyers until one is enticed enough to make an offer on the property for sale. The seller will rarely agree to this offer. Instead, the seller will make a counter offer that the buyer must then decide to act upon. This process can go back and forth a number of times depending on the particular issues being negotiated.

Although the offer procedure can bounce back and forth like a ball in a tennis match, the first return of serve by the seller is key, to wit, the first counter offer. More than a few sellers will make an awful mess of it and kill the deal. This often occurs because they are offended by the initial offer from the buyer. Instead of correctly viewing the situation as a business transaction, they view the offer as an insult to the hard work they've put into their home, their style and so on.

When this occurs, the seller gets that gleam of cleverness in the eye when preparing their counter offer. The goal is no longer to get a deal done. Now it is to zap the buyer back with an indirect insult. A classic approach that is not really particularly clever is to counter on price, but only drop the price by one to two thousand dollars. It is essentially a way to give the buyer the metaphysical middle finger if you will.

Alas, the emotional satisfaction of taking this approach with the counter offer soon passes. Reality sets in. The seller is expecting the buyer to "get serious" and make a "real offer." Instead, the buyer does nothing. Why? The buyer has moved on to other properties! Yes, the seller has just chased off the only real prospect he's had in a month or two in this ice cold real estate market. Clever indeed!

If you are going to be selling your home in this market, you need to accept some basic facts. It is a sellers' market. This means you are going to get low ball offers. Everyone knows the market is slow. Divorce yourself from your emotions when dealing with this situation. Objectively evaluate the offer made and make a reasonable counter offer if necessary. The buyer has the leverage in this market, so figure out your bottom line and negotiate anything you can above it.

Raynor James writes about issues surrounding FSBO properties for FSBOAmerica.org where you can list your home for sale by owner for free for 1 month.


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