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Nine Tips for Home Sellers: What You Should Know to Land a Buyer’s Offer

“What do I do when I get an offer?” That’s a common question from my sellers. If the offer is at or above your asking price, the answer may be easy. But remember money is not the only consideration. You may prefer a lower offer with better financing or a stronger buyer or a more convenient settlement date. When all factors are favorable, and the price is right- set the contract and reel your buyer in quickly.               

Typically, with my assistance, you’ll negotiate. It’s an art (somewhat like fishing), where you may give and take over price, terms, special conditions, contingencies, or closing costs. Even carry-back financing, dates of possession, or included person property may come into play.               

Here are some tips to help you throughout the process:

Aim for a sale.               

Remember, while your aim is to get as much as you can for your home, the buyer’s aim is to find your lowest acceptable price. In the end, however, you’re both angling for the same catch: a sale on the best possible terms for both of you.
Qualify buyer.               

Be sure your buyer is financially sound. Either I or the cooperating selling agent (who assists the buyer) will have information regarding the buyer’s employment, income, general financial position, debts, availability of cash for down payment and closing costs. After all, you don’t want a buyer can’t deliver.

Stay cool.               

Keep communications on an agreeable level. At all stages of negotiation, be as flexible as possible. Don’t lose your cool-even if your buyer gets tense-or you might lose your sale.

Ask questions.               

When offers come in they may contain complicated terminology, sometimes even two or three addenda. They should be carefully considered in person either at my real estate office or in the quiet of your home. Unless you are out of town, avoid discussing contracts on the telephone. I and/or the cooperating agent will help you understand all the ramifications.

Consider all offers.               

Remember, you have three basic choices: you can accept the offer, reject it or counteroffer with an alternative that suits you. Consider all written offers signed by the potential buyer, but never sign more than one. You might end up paying two commissions or in court with an irate loser. Give consideration to every offer, even if it’s lower than your asking price. Outright rejection is seldom wise unless the offer is so ridiculous you know the buyer is simply “fishing”. With my counsel, you might make a counteroffer close to your asking price. That seems fair for you buyers and lets them know, while you are not inflexible, neither are you so anxious to sell you’ll take anything.

Respond quickly.               

When buyers make an offer, they are in the mood to buy. But moods change. Be sure to respond immediately, even with a counteroffer. Buyers are known to get “buyer’s remorse” in the middle of the night. Don’t delay responding if you really want that sale now. Keep mum, of course, about the minimum price you’d accept, but keep the dialogue going. It’s not unusual to exchange two or three counteroffers. Remember, I’m professionally trained to find a meeting of the minds where everyone wins.

Rely on your agent.               

Realize an agent is required by law to bring you any offer-no matter how low. Since I know your situation and usually the buyer’s, I’m in a unique position to help negotiations along. Even simply relating counteroffers, I can depersonalize the delicate money discussions. I represent your interests, and it’s also to my own financial benefit to see you get the highest price the buyer is able to pay. Unless the cooperating selling agent has a special contract to represent the buyer, that agent also is your agent. If the cooperating agent actually does represent the buyer, the agent can only do so with your knowledge.
Be patient.               

Exercise confidence and patience as the buyer weighs the counteroffers. Be forthcoming with all information requested and call attention to all the areas of agreement. Be positive. When disagreements occur, iron out all the small negotiation areas before getting down to any real stumbling block later when most items are agreed.

Consider “sweeteners.”               

As the bidding gets close to your acceptable price, you might offer some extras-“sweeteners”-to make a higher price acceptable to the buyer: the inclusion in the sale of draperies, lawn furniture, riding mower, the barbeque grill-whatever you don’t mind giving up. If you’re in a position to offer financial support, now is the time to offer to negotiate points or hold a second mortgage-or whatever financial aid might help sell your home.

Take care with contingencies.               

In drawing up your contract, consider requests for contingencies carefully. Contingencies—stipulations such as obtaining financing or home inspection-are typically used to smooth acceptance of a contract without delaying the buying decision. Each contingency must be satisfied before the sale is final and should include a time limit for work to be completed.               

When you’ve landed your buyer, your signed acceptance of a written offer becomes your sales contract. Except for removing any contingencies, this document is the binding basis for the sale. Call me when you’re ready to put your home on the market, and I’ll help you get the best offer.