Consider the terms.
Price is paramount for most buyers and sellers, but it’s not the only deal point. A low purchase offer might make sense if the contingencies are reasonable, the closing date meets your needs, and the buyer is pre-approved for a mortgage. Consider what terms you might change in a counteroffer to make the deal work.
Review your comps.
Ask your real estate agent whether any homes that are comparable to yours (known as “comps”) have been sold or put on the market since your home was listed for sale. If those new comps are at lower prices, you might have to lower your price to match them if you want to sell.
Consider the buyer’s comps.
Buyers sometimes attach comps to a low offer to try to convince the seller to accept a lower purchase offer. Take a look at those comps. Are the homes similar to yours? If so, your asking price might be unrealistic. If not, you might want to include in your counteroffer information about those homes and your own comps that justify your asking price.
If the buyers don’t include comps to justify their low purchase offer, have your real estate agent ask the buyers’ agent for those comps.
Get the agents together.
If the purchase offer is too low to counter, but you don’t have a better option, ask your real estate agent to call the buyer’s agent and try to narrow the price gap so that a counteroffer would make sense. Also, ask your real estate agent whether the buyer (or buyer’s agent) has a reputation for low ball purchase offers. If that’s the case, you might feel freer to reject the offer.
Don’t signal desperation.
Buyers are sensitive to signs that a seller may be receptive to a low purchase offer. If your home is vacant or your home’s listing describes you as a “motivated” seller, you’re signaling you’re open to a low offer.
If you can remedy the situation, maybe by renting furniture or asking your agent not to mention in your home listing that you’re motivated, the next purchase offer you get might be more to your liking.
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Marcie Geffner is a freelance reporter who has been writing about real estate, homeownership and mortgages for 20 years. She owns a ranch-style house built in 1941 and updated in the 1990s, in Los Angeles.