How Should I Respond to a Low-Ball Offer?

There it is… smacked right down on your table from your agent. A low-ball offer. What’s considered low-ball? Well, it’s all subjective, I assume, but usually 10-20% below asking price or maybe even more. It also depends on what you listed it for and if that meets market value.How Should I Respond to a Low-Ball Offer?

If you priced it correctly, as we are assuming you took recommendations from your agent on pricing, a low-ball offer can be very insulting. I mean, this is your home, your castle, someone should appreciate the handcraftsmanship of your restoration hardware mirror frame or sturdy garage workbench. Do they not see the carefully laid tile in the bathroom or the paver patio perfectly staged for late night campfires?

No. They don’t see that. They see a house and they want a deal.

Don’t let emotions get the better of you. I’ve had sellers get so offended they immediately reject the offer. I’ve had other sellers that softly and reasonably negotiate and actually come relatively close to the asking price.

Our emotions can make or break a sale. They can get us trouble faster than anything and calm us quicker than expected. Sure, you’re upset, insulted, disgusted, but you have to also look at it from the buyer’s perspective to some degree. Don’t you want the best deal when you shop around? So do they. They have no emotional attachment to your home. They see it as a product. Do you walk into a store and expect to pay the highest price for an item? Okay, maybe you do…  But, if you’re bargaining for something you probably haggle just a little. Well, these people haggle a lot.

So what can you do about it?

First – remain calm. Breathe. Don’t panic (as the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy advises us).  Remember you are in control. You call the shots. But you don’t have to be rude or insulting. Just keep in mind that you don’t have to sell to anyone, but that you can negotiate with everyone.don't panic

Review all the terms. Maybe it’s a lowball offer because the terms are outstanding. Maybe they waived the inspection, have a 20 day closing period or offered all cash. These are things to consider.

Talk to your agent. Is the house really priced appropriately? Look at the comps in the area. Have your agent ask the buyer how they arrived at their offer price. Your agent, if they’re good, should do a little investigative digging to find out why the buyer came in so low and if they go higher. Finding all the details and facts can really help you make a better decision on how to respond.

Counter-offer. You’ll no doubt want to counter-offer. If it’s just too low for your budget or expectations you can counter-offer either with new terms, new price or both. Of course, you can reject the offer altogether as well but that really just frustrates everyone.

Negotiations can go back and forth for some time. Most offers have a 3-day expiration date, which means if the offer is not countered, rejected or approved in 3-days, it expires and the deal is terminated. It can be reinstated but a new offer will need to be written up.

My one piece of advice is this; try not to stress or feel frustrated. Maybe you’ve been on the market a long time and you finally get an offer but it’s much lower than expected. Before blindly counter-offering, have your agent talk to the buyer’s agent or buyer about the situation. Find some middle ground and negotiate so that it’s a win/win for all.

Have more questions? Let us know here anytime! We’d love to help you list and sell you house in Northern Virginia and the DC area. Find out what your home is worth today.

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