How to Spot a Lowball Offer on a House (& How to Respond!)

By Lindsay Stefan

Posted on September 9th, 2022

Lowball offer on a house

It’s a good feeling when you list your home and you’re all fired up to start taking offers. But what happens when an offer comes through that’s a little on the low side? Should you counter the offer or pass and wait on the next one to come in? This article offers expert advice.

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How Do You Identify a Lowball Offer vs. a Fair Offer?

As with most things, it depends on who you ask. Some real estate experts say that any offer that is more than 25% less than your list price counts as lowball.

But calling out a static percentage doesn’t work across the board, because the definition also depends on how much your home is worth, whether it’s currently a buyer or sellers market, how much other homes in your area have been selling for, and whether or not you overpriced your home.

What Should You Do If You Get a Lowball Offer on a House?

Just because an offer is low, it doesn’t mean that a potential buyer is consciously trying to rip you off. They are most likely just trying to strike a deal. If they really love your home, chances are they’ll be willing to negotiate.

On the other hand, if the initial offer is so offensively low that you feel like the buyer isn’t being serious, it’s perfectly okay to forgo taking them to the negotiation table and simply move on to the next.

What If the Offer is Just on the Low Side of Reasonable?

In this case, don’t be afraid to shift the ball to the buyer. Give them a logical reason for not accepting it and provide evidence to support your response. You can cite prices of similar homes in the area or provide evidence of current market trends. The goal is to make it clear that you’re not being greedy, you just want to get a fair price for your home.

If you make an effort to provide a logical explanation, it’s likely they will receive it well and accept your counter. If you’ve already gone back and forth a couple of times and are getting down to details, you can also use some of these proven negotiation techniques to come to an agreeable compromise.

How Does Your Motivation to Sell Tie Into the Equation?

If you’ve already got your eye on a new property, it might be worthwhile to accept a lower offer that will cover your cost so you don’t risk losing the new home. If you're in a hurry to move because of a new job or other life obligation, you may also need to be more flexible on the offer in order to stick to your timeline.

On the flip side, if there aren’t any outside forces that have you in a particular hurry to sell, feel free to decide on a particular price and wait it out until you get your ideal offer. If you eventually realize you need to adjust the sale price, it’s easy to do so.

Before you start entertaining offers, consider your motivations to sell and decide the lowest possible price you’d be willing to accept. Doing so will make it easier to determine whether it’s better to counter or pass on low offers.

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Posted in Real Estate Negotiations, Selling a House