You spent a month getting your home ready to go on the market. Fresh paint, clutter removed, carpets professionally cleaned. Your home goes on the market and just a few weeks later your Realtor calls to tell you an offer is coming in. You hope for the best but when the offer comes in, it is low. You’ve received what is commonly termed, a “lowball” offer on your home.
Questions start running through your mind. Is the buyer serious about buying your home? Are they just looking for a deal? Are you too far apart to make it work? Should I even waste my time making a counter-offer?
Try not get discouraged or to take offense. Everyone has different negotiating styles. So, unless you’ve been a real jerk to people lately (I’m just kidding), the low offer price has nothing to do with you or your home. Assuming your home is priced properly, it just may be their way of negotiating and is not intended to insult you. Remember, while your aim is to get as much as you can for your home, the buyers aim is to find your lowest acceptable price.
Don’t say no right away
Enter negotiations even if the offer is substantially lower than your asking price. Outright rejection is seldom the answer (unless the offer is ridiculous). Try responding with a counteroffer closer to your list price. That lets the buyer know, while you are ready to sell, you’re not so anxious that you'll take anything. By the way, there’s no market time lost because during negotiations Realtors can continue to show your home. You may even receive a better offer from another interested party that knows there’s competition for your home.
Don’t view the buyer as an adversary- enter negotiations in a positive frame of mind.
No one wins if you enter a negotiation with an all or nothing (win-lose) attitude. If you’re completely inflexible, the buyer may walk. First, review the offer and call attention to all the areas of agreement. Exercise confidence and patience throughout the negotiation as you may give and take over price, terms, special conditions, closing costs or even date of possession. It's not unusual to exchange two or three counteroffers.
See what a buyer will see
If you haven’t looked at comparables in a while, take a look at current inventory and recent and pending sales. Was there a substantial increase in inventory during the time frame in which you were getting your home ready to go on the market? Have similar homes recently sold for less than your asking price? There may be a reason they’ve come in with a lower price. And, keep in mind that many buyers are still concerned about buying high and then being under water.
Not quite there yet? Sweeten the deal
As the bidding gets close to your acceptable price, you might offer something extra to make a higher price acceptable to the buyer. For example, draperies, speakers, lawn furniture, riding mower, a BBQ – whatever you don’t mind giving up. Don’t negotiate these items upfront even if they are included in the buyers original offer. These items should be saved for last to sweeten and to seal the deal.
Susan Borrelli is a Realtor with Ron & Susan Associates, Re/Max Gateway in Lorton.