Selling Real Estate

Getting an Offer

What happens after someone decides that your home is their perfect dream house? They will probably make you an offer.

There's a good chance that their offer will be less than your asking price, which is when the negotiating begins. At the successful conclusion of the negotiations, you will enter into a contract with the buyer. It's important that you educate yourself about the specifics of this important document. You may find that hiring an attorney is a good investment at the contract stage.

A savvy buyer is doing the same type of analysis you did when you put your property on the market. There's a good chance they've asked to see comparable listings and, unless they have just entered the market, they've already seen other homes before arriving at your doorstep.

If they decide to make you an offer, they will be deciding how reasonable your asking price is. Did you intentionally set your price way above your ultimate settle price? If you did, the buyer may be able to recognize that and begin horse trading at a number far below your asking figure. Even if you feel you priced your home fairly, expect to get a lowball opening bid. Don't take it personally! It's all part of the process. Buyers assume that asking prices have a fair amount of give and take built into them. If you have already decided what your ultimate selling price is, and you have set that price realistically, then this haggling process is just a necessary step to reaching your goal—selling your home quickly, fairly and profitably.

Your role is to decide if the opening bid will be their highest, or whether you have just been sent a trial bid to see where you really stand. In either case, stay focused. Remember, your goal is to ultimately agree on your final price and terms.

SUGGESTION: If the buyer is using your agent, try to get some insight as to the mindset of the buyer. Is their intention to haggle or is this offer really what they think your property is worth? As a seller's agent, your agent must pass along to you any information disclosed to him or her.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If your buyer intends to use Veterans Administration (VA) financing, you must pay all financing points and bear the cost of a termite inspection, both of which are normally buyers' expenses. Keep this in mind when negotiating since these costs will reduce your proceeds.

Negotiating your deal amounts to more than just setting the price. You will be agreeing on the personal property to be included with the sale, conditions of the sale, time of possession, closing date and other variable items. Look at it as a package deal. You may get a great price, but the terms of sale may not be agreeable to you. Another offer may not be worth as much money, but have terms that are more to your liking. Don't look just at the dollars—look at the whole picture.
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