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Negotiating the offer

You finally have an offer!

If you're like most sellers, the most difficult part of selling your home has just begun. When that agent or buyer comes over and you take a look at that offer, be prepared to be unsatisfied. It's very rare for an offer to have everything you're looking for.

Only now does the real process of selling your house begin. You have to negotiate with the buyers to get what you want and need.

In real estate, negotiations take the form of counteroffers. The way the buyers tell you they're interested in your property is the offer. The way you tell them their offer is unacceptable, but you're willing to negotiate, is the counteroffer. You must know what you want. And in the event that you cannot get it, you must also create a tentative fallback position — the minimum you will accept.

The right way to receive an offer

When you receive an offer, take charge and direct the proceedings. Here's a list of questions to ask when you receive an offer.

  1. Deposit: How much and who has it? (Is it a serious offer, as evidenced by a sufficient deposit?)

  2. Price: What exactly are the buyers offering?

  3. Down payment: Cash, and if not, why not?

  4. Terms: New first loan?

  5. Occupancy: How soon do I have to get out?

  6. Contingencies: Is there anything that could weaken the deal?


As you go through these questions, be sure you understand the answers that are given to you.

Usually, offers aren't great or terrible. They're somewhere in between. The buyers may give you some things you want in exchange for demanding others you don't want to give up. List the pros and cons of the offer so you can see what the trade-offs are.

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