Lowball Offer – Now What?

lowballWhack! That’s the sound of getting hit by a lowball offer on your home. You’ve probably heard about lowball offers: Offers that are much lower than a listing price. Maybe your list agent prepped you for the possibility of one, or maybe you got blindsided by one. Regardless of the preparation involved, it hurts. But, thankfully, there is a little more to it than just being a number written on a page.

Over a decade ago when I was still fairly new in real estate, I had a buyer write a really low offer on a house that was listed with a seasoned agent. I was embarrassed to present the offer, and feared the agent would lambast me for even bringing it to her. I faxed the offer (that’s what we did back then!), and called her to make sure she received it. She said she did, and mentioned that it was quite low. I explained my buyer’s reasoning for writing such a low offer, and when I finished, she was quiet on the line for an awkwardly long time. Finally she said, “Amy, it is our job as agents to keep the conversation moving between our buyers and sellers. I will present this offer to my sellers and, although they will want to reject it, I WILL bring you a counter. It will then be up to you to keep this offer moving forward.”

Lowball offer I think notThose words stuck with me when just a short time later, I was faced with a similar situation on one of my listings. I was sent a very lowball offer, and I was scared to present it to my sellers. My sellers had just moved into their dream home, but the house they left behind- the one they were selling- was full of memories and sentimental value. And did I mention my sellers were a little, um, short-tempered? When I met with them to present the offer, Mr. Seller asked me if I had a red pen. I told him no, and asked, “Why?” He said, “I want to write “&#%$ You” across the front of this thing!” Oh boy. I remembered what the seasoned agent had told me, and after I calmed my seller down, explained that we needed to keep the conversation moving and counter the offer. Without a counter, the conversation comes to a complete stop. It never moves forward. Communication completely shuts down.

rejected lowball offerI bring this up because last week I wrote offers on two different houses. Both offers were decent and respectable. When we wrote them, we expected a counter. We figured the seller would come down some, and we’d go up some, and eventually meet in the middle. Except that didn’t happen. Why? Both offers were just flat out rejected. So guess what happened? My buyers were upset. They were hurt. They took it personally and felt like the sellers were being jerks. The result? The communication train came to a dead stop. Conversation over.

There are a lot of feelings and emotions that come into play when selling a house. Sellers are hoping someone will love their home as much as they did, that they won’t let it fall into disrepair, and that their old neighbors don’t hate them if they sell to a crazy person. But there are equally as many feelings and emotions when buying a house. Buyers are worried about the cost of purchasing, if they are making the right decision, and if they will be happy in the new home. Because both parties have equally strong emotions but for different reasons, it takes patience and understanding to get to the point of having an accepted offer.

lowball sold houseSellers, if you receive a lowball offer, view the offer as a gift. It might be a crappy, horrible gift that reminds you of something your weird uncle gave you, but it was still a gift that took some time to pick out, wrap, and present to you. Now it’s up to you decide if you want to shove it back in his face with a huff, or gently say thank you and do what you can to make it something you can use. My advice? Keep the conversation moving. Don’t throw the gift back; don’t “return to sender”. Instead work with it, and see what you can do with it. It might turn into the greatest gift of all- a sold house.