Buyers: How to Handle Counteroffers

Buying a home is not always a linear process. After you have found the right house, made an offer and started getting excited at the prospect of owning a new home, the seller may not accept your proposal. In some cases, the seller will make a counteroffer, delineating their desired terms. The seller might be making counteroffers to multiple other buyers, too.

What are your options when you receive a counteroffer? Read on to learn more about the process.

What Is a Counteroffer?
A seller’s counteroffer usually includes added specifications that will make the buyer’s offer acceptable. Expect to see the following:

  • A higher price, closer to the original asking price.
  • A more substantial earnest money deposit.
  • A change in closing date or possession date.
  • Alteration to the contingency time frame.
  • Modification of service providers.
  • Payment of various fees excluded.

The seller expects the buyer to accept the counteroffer, make their own counteroffer or withdraw completely from the negotiation. If the terms are acceptable to you, then congratulations on your new home. If you do not agree completely with the seller’s counteroffer, you have a right to appeal with your own counteroffer.

How to Accept a Counteroffer
To accept a counteroffer, write “accepted” on it, then initial and date it. If you do not do so before the offer’s expiration date, a seller can accept another buyer’s purchase offer.

Multiple Counteroffers
Depending on the laws in your particular state, a seller may be able to give counteroffers to multiple parties. Each one can be different. Know that even if you accept a seller’s counteroffer, they have the right to choose to accept someone else’s counteroffer instead. Act quickly and close the deal so that you don’t miss out on the house you want.

Has Your Counteroffer Been Rejected?
Sellers are not required to respond to your counteroffer. A seller can write “rejected” across the contract with a signature and date, or initial it at the appropriate place at the bottom. If you do not hear from the seller, the offer will expire anyway, according to the expiration date that most offers have.

What If the Seller Refuses to Accept a Counteroffer?
Suppose a seller does not answer your counteroffer, and the asking price is too high. Consider this advice from real estate professional Michael Emilio: “Inform the listing agent (or the seller, if he is acting as his own agent) that you will be handing over a new counteroffer in a week’s time. Add $1,000 to your original offer. Continue with this strategy until he accepts your offer.”

Your persistence may motivate the seller to resume negotiations with you and possibly agree to your terms. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to walk away if your counteroffer is not accepted. It’s better to move on to a potential win than to frustrate yourself with a home purchase offer that isn’t going anywhere. With a sound offer and counteroffer strategy, you’ll surely get a great house in the end.

Posted By:  @ Sep 23, 2013