Understanding Real Estate Offers (& How to Respond)

By Home Bay

Posted on May 4th, 2016

The moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived; a potential buyer made an offer on your home. But before you pop the champagne, you need to review the offer thoroughly to determine whether you want to make any changes before you seal the deal. Complex real estate and legal lingo can make deciphering a buyer offer a challenge, but these guidelines will help you simplify the process.


  1. Look beyond the purchase price:
    While the purchase price is important, you need to read the entire offer before making any quick decisions. The fine print can contain details that make a low offer more appealing or a high one less attractive.

  2. Consider the buyer’s seriousness:
    If you have multiple offers, how can you tell which one is your best bet? In addition to looking at the purchase price and the items outlined below, consider their up-front financial commitment. A large down payment, partial cash payment or an earnest money deposit can indicate a that a buyer is eager to buy and is serious about the transaction. In addition to the financial aspects of the deal, also consider any personal outreach you receive directly from potential buyers as you work to determine which offer you want to accept.

  3. Review personal property requests:
    Most offers include a personal property request, where buyer ask that certain items in the home stay, for the purchase price they offered. The most common requests are window treatments, furniture and appliances. It can be tempting to deny these requests, but you have to think big picture. If a buyer wants your fridge and you’re not sure it will even fit in your new place, it may be in your best interest to let it convey with the property.

  4. Calculate the cost of seller concessions:
    If the buyer has requested that you pay closing costs, finish a remodeling project or replace the roof, calculate the cost of their requested concession and subtract it from the total purchase price to make sure the total offer still meets your needs. If you find that something they’re asking for isn’t reasonable, there are a number of ways you can use your counteroffer to try and reach an agreeable compromise.

  5. Understand the impact of contingencies:
    Contingencies mean the buyer is only committed to buying the house *if certain events occur. *For example, appraisal contingencies typically require that the house appraises for the full sale price in order for the deal to go through. Other contingencies can release the buyer from the agreement if she is unable to secure financing or is unable to sell her current property. Contingencies can be tricky to work around, so if you have multiple offers, it’s usually going to be less of a headache for you to opt for a non-contingent sale.

    Once you understand the offer in its entirety, you can compare it to your expectations and financial needs and prepare your response.

Now that you understand the process, you can list your home confidently, respond to offers quickly and intelligently, and get the deal closed as easily as possible.

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Posted in Offers & Counters