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How to Deal With a Counter Offer

by Jann Seal, studioD

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller of real estate, purchase contracts are often responded to with a counter offer. Price is usually the cause for a counter offer and sets the stage for negotiations. Once a counter offer is issued and signed, the door to new terms is opened. A timeline for acceptance is reset from the original and, in effect, a new contract is put into play until both parties sign and initial all pages.

Respond to a buyer’s purchase contract in a positive manner, even if the price is considerably lower than what you anticipated, when you’re the seller. Keep in mind that this is a business transaction and put your emotions aside. Use market research to counter his offer, and defend your price by reducing it slightly. Increase your offer in response to a counter offer if you’re a buyer, knowing your financial limitations. Consider a counter offer to be a new purchase contract, nullifying the original contract and putting new terms in front of you. Check all pages of the counter offer to be sure of all the changes. Respond within the time allotted to keep the contract active.

Let both real estate agents handle counter offers and the negotiations, as they know their clients and the limitations involved. Resolve back-and-forth negotiations by agreeing to leave behind items that are of interest to a buyer while buyers can entice a seller to agree to a lesser price if closing terms and expenses are shared.

Determine if the lesser offer, if you’re the seller, is offset by the time it’ll take to find another buyer, the conditions of the market, and your personal situation. Ask your real estate agent to do another market analysis of “sold” properties within in past month, in your locality, to substantiate price.

Back away from a difficult seller if you’re a buyer and you’re not seeing that the seller is compromising on the counter offer. Know your financial position and where you have leeway. Try to learn whether the seller has other counter offers out to other potential buyers and if he’s manipulating to achieve a higher price. Withdraw if you become uncomfortable when negotiating.

Do not respond, whether you’re the seller or buyer, to an offer you consider far from what you expect. The contract will die on its own. Write “rejected” and return the offer or counter offer if you want closure on the transaction. Accepting other offers while a counter offer is in play is allowed as no signed contract is in effect.

Step back from the negotiations if you’re far away from your goal. Revisit in two weeks’ time. If the property is still on the market, consider a new offer, upping your price a few thousand dollars. Ask your real estate agent to find out about the seller and his situation, and try to appease him by agreeing to other conditions that may encourage him to accept your offer. Respond to his counter offer only if you think you’ll eventually agree to terms.

About the Author

Jann Seal is published in magazines throughout the country and is noted for her design and decor articles and celebrity *in-home* interviews. An English degree from the University of Maryland and extensive travels and relocations to other countries have added to her decorating insight.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images