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Home Selling Guide: Counteroffers Explained

Living room annexed with kitchen set up

As the seller, you can make a real estate counter offer if you’re dissatisfied with the buyer’s first bid. Countering an offer typically means that you accept the buyer’s offer on the condition of one or more changes to the sales price, earnest money deposit, contingencies, closing date, and other terms.

Mastering the art of the real estate counter offer

The counteroffer is the seller’s reply to the buyer’s original offer. Depending on your conditions for the sale, your counter offer can change the terms of the deal, including sales price and closing date. You may decide to counter the buyer’s offer for various reasons. This allows you to renegotiate with the buyer so you can meet in the middle and close the deal.

The secret to mastering the counter offer is to never let emotions cloud your judgment or impede negotiations. Take a step back if you’re feeling frustrated or annoyed with the buyer. Let your agent act as your go-between. Continue to ask questions, do research, and request for adequate time when considering a new offer.

You should also be willing to reach a happy compromise with the buyer. While you may not get your way one hundred percent of the time, you should be willing to finalize negotiations once you’ve achieved your ultimate goal, which is the timely and successful sale of your home.

What to include in your counter offer

Your counter offer may include a request for supplementary information or a clarification of terms to help you come to an acceptable agreement with the buyer. It can also include new conditions to ensure fairness for both parties.

Changes and modifications typically include:

  • Increase in the earnest money deposit
  • Waived fees for reports and other documents or processes
  • Changes to the sales price
  • Changes to the closing date or possession date
  • Changes to the contingency time frame
  • Requests to have the deposit money released earlier

Whatever requests or modifications you include in your counter offer will ultimately depend on your unique needs and circumstances as a seller. If you need to sell your home quickly for life events such as a divorce or job offer overseas, you may request a closing date that fits your personal timeline and be more flexible on pricing. Talk to your agent to decide which negotiation strategy best works for you.

There is no cap for the number of times that the buyer and seller can counter each other’s offers during negotiations. During the back and forth with the buyer, you may find that the price becomes lower than the previous offer. This sometimes signals that the buyer is inching closer to their final offer. In some cases, buyers and sellers might have to deal with up to five counters during negotiations, according to The Balance.

Neither one of you is obliged to settle until you fully agree on a contract, which happens once the counteroffer gets accepted. Once a binding contract is formed, it becomes enforceable against all parties. You can only finalize counter offer negotiations when both parties accept the terms without any additional modifications or new conditions.

For more questions on real estate negotiations in Pennington, Ewing, and other NJ communities, you can call us, David DePaola and Company Real Estate, at 609.883.4161 or shoot us a message at David(at)DePaola(dotted)com. Our boutique agency brings over 40 years of experience to the negotiation table. We’re here to secure the best terms and conditions for the sale of your home.