Counter Offers in Real Estate

Cori Dunphy
Published on November 30, 2020

Counter Offers in Real Estate

Real Estate Counter Offers

It is rare that an  initial offer gets accepted and it is MUCH more likely that the seller will respond to the offer with a counter-offer.  Today I am  going to give you some tips and tricks to help you navigate through a counter offer in real estate

Today’s topic is:  The Do’s and Don’ts of responding to a Counter Offer

Hi Everyone, welcome back.  It’s Cori and I‘m a proud Marlboro Township resident and your local REALTOR® with the Monmouth County Dream Homes Powered by RE/MAX CENTRAL.  It’s time for another video and this week, I’m back to talking about good old real estate.  It may not be the most fun topic, but it’s an important one!

You put in an offer to purchase your dream home and now the Seller has come back with a counter offer. Darn, you were so hoping your offer would be accepted.  Don’t worry about it.  Initial offers rarely get accepted!  Stay positive.

But the good news, is you do have a counter offer, and that matters.  Now, you have 3 options on how to counter a counter offer.

  1. You can accept the counter offer, and you will have an accepted contract! YAY
  2. You can reject the counter and simply walk away and not even engage in negotiating
  3. Or you can counter the counter offer!

The negotiating process is super stressful.   You really want to be working with a realtor who can guide you on how to counter offer real estate.  For the purposes of  this video I am taking the assumption that you really REALLY want a specific house and for the deal to proceed, So i’m here to give you some tips on how to negotiate the counter offer process.  Here are a few Do’s and Don’t you need to be aware of:

  1. DON’T take it personally.  A counter offer is not about YOU, it is about the seller and their needs.  
  2. DO try to gather as  much information as may help you to navigate a counter offer that might be successful.
  3. DON’T think of the seller or the other agent as the enemy, it is only with their consent and approval that this deal will happen
  4. DO be reasonable, try to take into consideration the concessions that both sides are making to allow the deal to move forward.  For example, if you have asked for early possession, and the seller is not willing to agree to this but has agreed to most of the other terms, consider making other arrangements during that time, like staying with family or getting a hotel room.
  5. DON’T nickel and dime the seller!  Is $1,000 really all that significant when you are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on your new home?  $1,000 is a small fraction when viewed against the purchase price.
  6. DO be flexible where you can.  If the seller counters with a different closing date and it doesn’t pose any major issues for you consider conceding this point.  Choose your battles wisely.

There is no clear cut answer of exactly how negotiating will go because each situation is so different.  There are so many scenarios that can come up.  What if the sellers counter offer is too high?  Or what happens if buyer does not accept counter offer?  Do you even know how to counter offer on a house?  What type of market are we currently in.  This is a big one.  Sellers market?  Buyers market?  Balanced market?

I like to think that there is such thing as “real estate counter offer etiquette”.  But is there really?  Well there is when I’m involved.  

If you want to get off on the right foot with the seller, lowballing them isn’t the way to do it. An offer is typically considered a “low ball” if you’re coming in at 15% of below market value. So let’s assume you did that and they still came back with a counter.  Current market conditions are going to dictate how this entire process goes down.  As your agent I have to have a clear cut real estate counter offer strategy for buyer.

Here are some common counter offer tactics:

  • Increase sales price
  • Increase earnest money deposit
  • Modify contingency within offer
  • Modify time frame
  • Exclude or add a personal property from the contract

Let’s look at an example of a counter offer:

✅House is listed at $429,900
✅Washer and Dryer are Not included
✅Buyer offers $400,000 / close in 30 days
✅Seller comes back at $425,000 / close in 60 days
✅Buyer comes back at $410,000 with washer and dryer included and close in 60 days
✅Seller counters at $415,000 with washer and dryer / close in 60 days.
🍾Buyer accepts the offer and are moving to attorney review.

In this case the process of making a counter offer went pretty smoothly.  

The Code of Ethics set by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) holds agents to a certain standard of conduct. One rule Realtors have to follow is to disclose when their seller accepts an offer from a buyer to other buyer’s agents, even if that offer comes with contingencies.  This is usually done by marketing listing, under contract, pending or simply putting it in the agent notes section in the MLS. 

Hopefully this helps you to feel more confident in your negotiations.  This tends to be an area that I spend a lot of time with my clients when we reach the negotiation stage.  

That’s it for today’s post, so, if you want to stay up to date on all things Real Estate, make sure you like my Facebook Page at Monmouth County Dream homes ’ my Instagram page at or subscribe to my Monmouth County Dream Homes Channel on Youtube!

Do you have a question you would like me to answer?  Have something fun that you’d like to share about Monmouth County NJ?  I want to hear from you; leave me a note in the form below

Remember, if you or anyone you know is looking to buy or sell their home, please give me a call!  It’s always the right time to make a move with Monmouth County Dream Homes!

I’ll see you next monday!

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