So, you have found the perfect home. It's priced a little higher than you want to spend, but you'll try for it anyways. You work with your Realtor and decide to put in an offer. Your Realtor sends the offer to the listing Realtor. Now you wait..... hmmm....how long did we give them to get back to us? 5 hours, 24 hours, an hour?
The phone rings!!! It's your Realtor! Another offer? What?! What do you do now? Change your offer or sit tight? Your Realtor recommends that you 'put your best foot forward' (change your offer to what you're willing to spend on this particular home). You think about it and decide to let it sit. You think that you have a good strong offer and besides we're asking that they counter your offer. Your offer was in first, so they have to deal with yours first, right? WRONG...WRONG....WRONG!!!! The seller can look at all offers on the table at once and decide what they want to do. They can choose to work with one. They can choose to 'leap frog' the offers. (That's countering one offer and waiting for it to come back to them and then countering the other offer and waiting for it to come back and so on.)
Here's a scenario to clarify. 2 offers come in on the same home all have given until 9 pm tonight. It's now 2pm. The asking price is $299,900. Offer #1 is $290,000, offer #2 is $285,000. What to do? The offer for the purchase of a home has many different aspects to it. Appliances included? Window coverings included? House inspection condition? Financing condition? Possession Date? The listing agents job is to get the best deal for their client (not necessarily the best price). So, the $285,000 offer has the best closing date for the Seller, but the price is too low. You counter that offer at $299,000 and see how high they will come back with. You give them until 4p.m. They counter back $292,000 and give you until 6pm. You then take the $290,000 offer and counter it $299,000 to see what they're willing to spend and you change the possession date to suit the Seller. You only give them until 5:30pm to get back to you. They counter back the offer at $295,000 and give you until 7pm. Now that it's back in your hands, you can again counter the first offer and so on. Keep in mind that if the Buyer who was first countered accepted the counter offer, the game is done and the house is conditionally sold. You may not have had the opportunity to join in. That's sometimes how it goes.
On the other hand, you can be in the midst of negotiations with the Seller and another offer can show up. As long as you have countered back to them and the time frame is still open, they can start negotiating with the new person. Sometimes negotiations don't seem fair, but it's the way that it's done. The ultimate power in a sale is with the owner (It is their possession after all). If they don't want to deal with your offer first, (or at all), it's their perogative. They have the right to look at all of their options and make an informed decision. Could they be making the wrong decision? Of course. Could the deal that they agree upon fall apart? Absolutely! Could they be losing a potential buyer (YOU)? Certainly. Could they sell the house for less than you're willing to pay? Of course. That's why your best foot forward is important if you LOVE the house.
If you find yourself on the losing end of a multiple offer situation, consider negotiating an offer with a condition of the exisiting deal falling through. Then if the other deal does fall through, (and you never know what's going to happen), you will have purchased your house. Sometimes it takes months to find the perfect house. Sometimes you need to negotiate on a few (or more) to get one. REMEMBER: If you like the home and it's priced right in a great area where things sell quickly, chances are you're going to be dealing with competing offers! You won't be the only buyer that has found their dream home!!!