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Endless counter offers

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Dear Phyllis,

Our real estate agent has been showing us homes for quite some time. Last week we finally found the perfect one and we made a formal offer. It seems there have been endless counter offers with the seller’s agent for more than a week and we still did not come to an agreement on price and some patio furniture (we asked that the patio furniture be included but it wasn’t a deal breaker). After a week of no movement, another offer was received and now we are bidding against that buyer. The initial delay is perplexing and I feel the seller is playing us, what do you think? Dan T.

Dear Dan,

The real estate waiting game is very frustrating for you and your agent. Most sellers have a set price in mind that they “need” when they list their home for sale. Obviously each seller wants to sell for the highest price and likely as the buyer, you want to purchase at the lowest possible price. Unfortunately it’s not unusual for offers to be countered several times before both buyers and sellers come to agreement.

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There is a simple way to avoid endless counter offers. Prior to writing the initial real estate purchase offer, I attempt to connect with the seller’s agent with questions about closing date, possession, etc. In the future, prior to asking for personal property (such as patio furniture) have your Realtor ask the seller’s agent whether the owner might include it. This will give you one less item to negotiate in any possible counter offers. If your initial offer was low, and your agent thought it not likely to be accepted, you might have omitted the inclusion of the patio furniture. On the off chance your price was accepted, that should be most important. In the event of a counter offer, when you increased your offer price, you might then consider asking for personal property.

Time can be a home buyer’s worst enemy because as you discovered another buyer has jumped in. When writing an offer for a client, I try to prepare them for a possible counter. If a counter offer is received, my buyer should already know if they are willing to increase their offer and if necessary by how much. Because we do this daily, most real estate agents are very experienced in these back and forth negotiations. Trust your agent’s expertise; you hired her to find the home you love at a price you can afford. A good agent will work hard to do just that.

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