Counteroffer Dos and Don'ts for the Seller

When you're putting together a counteroffer, use these tips to help keep sellers focused:

  • Don't be too quick to give a counteroffer before sufficiently going over the initial offer first.
  • "In writing your counteroffer, you may want to emphasize the areas that you do agree on before you begin asking for modifications." —Jim Remley, "Sell Your Home in Any Market"
  • Don’t let disagreement over a minor point take the focus away from a well-priced offer. Remind sellers that the value of the concession is probably far less than the profit they are making on their home.
  • Guard against “negotiating fever,” where sellers feel that going back with a counteroffer is part of the game. If you think the price is reasonable, encourage sellers not to keep pushing.
  • Work with the sellers to look for options to unacceptable contingency clauses. For example, if the sellers are able, suggest that they take back a second mortgage on the house for six months so that the sale can close before the buyers sell their current home.
  • Help sellers put a lower price offer into perspective. On a $200,000 home, an offer of $198,000 is only a 1 percent reduction. That’s like offering $.99 instead of $1. —Martin Shenkman and Warren Boroson, “Offer and Counteroffer,” Chicago Tribune, July 19, 1991
  • Encourage sellers to weight the offer based on their own urgency to sell and the time the house has been on the market.
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