You found the home of your dreams and have decided to make an offer.
With the help of your real estate agent, you determine the amount and terms of your offer, put it in writing, and give your agent the go-ahead to submit it. Now what? Unfortunately, now you wait. Once you have submitted an offer, the seller has several options. They can of course immediately accept your offer. They can also come back with a counter-offer, which may take a little longer as they contemplate the fairness of your offer and what it means to them, bottom line. If they do counter-offer, the clock starts all over again and it is now up to you to decide how to proceed and if you want to negotiate. The seller can also do nothing, at least for a while. Often, they’re waiting to see if they get any other offers. However, they have to respond within the time frame you have stated in the contract or the offer you made becomes null and void. A standard real estate purchase contract allows you to specify how long the Seller will have to consider and act on an offer before it expires. The standard time given for a response is usually around 48 to 72 hours after they receive the offer. If a bank is selling the property, such as in the case of a foreclosure or short sale, you will be at their mercy as it often takes much longer to hear back, sometimes weeks.


What if the seller has multiple offers?
Multiple offers happen a lot in a seller’s market. In this situation, the seller can be choosy about what they do next. They can simply accept the highest offer. Or they can counter one or more offers, trying to see how high they can get each buyer to go. They can also put all but one offer on hold while they counter or negotiate with that particular buyer.

Sometimes the price itself isn’t the most important factor to a seller. They may be more interested in other things, such as a contingency for a quick closing, which might be important if they are selling their existing home and buying a new home simultaneously. If they are elderly and moving to some type of assisted living, a delayed closing may hold greater influence as they will need time to sort out their belongings, move and have an estate sale.

How can I increase my odds of success?

Aside from submitting your highest possible offer, putting as few conditions on the offer as possible will make your offer more desirable to the Sellers. If the seller has a strong sentimental connection, having your real estate agent pass along a note about why you love the property might sway the seller. Employing a variety of tactics to help position yourself as a dream buyer will help lessen your odds of facing the disappointment of loosing out on the home you really wanted.

What happens if the seller misses the deadline?

If the seller doesn’t take any action before the deadline, the offer will expire. Once that expiration date passes, the buyer is no longer obligated to honor it, and any money they have submitted as a deposit can be returned to them.This is where a good real estate agent will be a huge help. They can ensure that the contract clearly spells out the deadline to act on the offer, and can advise you one the best time frame. Your real estate agent can also help “nudge” the seller’s agent if the deadline is approaching and they haven’t taken any action yet.

Ultimately, if this is the home you REALLY have to have, offer at least full price if not more. In a Seller's market, you may also want to include an escalation clause to help you from being overbid. As always, be sure to write in your original offer that the home must appraise at or above purchase price for the contract to be valid. This will protect you from becoming upside down in the market right out of the chutes. 

Until Next Time...

Dick Gibb