Why I Counter Every Offer
Twice now, I’ve run into agents who have straight-up turned down an offer without giving a counter. I say agents, and not sellers, because the agent is the one who directs and guides negotiations. It reminds me of a quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding: “The man is the head, but the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she wants.” (I actually don’t even know if that’s a direct quote; it’s just how I remember it.) But the same is true for Realtors, I think. The sellers are the head, but the agent is the neck and (s)he can turn the head any which way (s)he wants.”
So why, oh why, would an agent tell sellers to turn an offer down flat???
I, personally, feel this affronts our fiduciary duties. If we’re there to sell, we should make every attempt to sell. I also think one of our primary responsibilities is to diffuse high emotions. If we can’t do that, what good are we? Why don’t we just let sellers and buyers duke it out themselves?
I had an offer come in once for roughly $280,000 on a listing I had for $350,000. I counseled a counter! Why not? Some people just want to feel like they really squeezed you. So fine! Let them feel that way! We countered based on value, not based on their coo-coo offer. We came back at $348,000, and suddenly they came back at $300,000. For our $2000 move, they came up $20,000! When all was said and done, we closed at $345,000. But those buyers really felt like they fought for it. It worked out in that instance. If we had turned them down flat, I feel confident that they would have moved on because we would have made them feel angry. Nobody likes rejection!
One case that didn’t work out was when I had an offer come in for $800,000 on a listing that I had which was listed at $1,300,000. We countered! We countered based on value, not based on their crazy plan to get a good deal. I believe we countered at $1,290,000, if memory serves. You counter based on value, not based on the offer in front of you! In the end, the offer tanked. But it cost me 5 minutes of time to deliver the offer verbally, and verbally deliver a counter back to the agent. So what’s the big deal?
We need to do everything we can to sell, and if it’s going to cost us 20 minutes out of our day to see if we can find some common ground with a bargain hunter, why not see? You can always come to an impasse once you’ve given them a fair shot. If they’re not going to pay fair market value, then at that point it’s time to say, “Sayonara!” But my experience is that at 75% of bargain, low-ballers, are willing to pay a fair price. They just want to feel like they really worked you.
Do you flat out reject stinky low-ball offers?