Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


Love the House? Hate the Price? Don't Give Up Too Quickly!

Whenever I'm working with buyers who find a place they love at a price they don't, I don't always suggest that we just keep looking - especially in this Washington, DC market, which is getting a little bit quirky.

While some sellers list their homes with visions of multiple offers and selling prices over what they are asking, this scenario has become the exception to the rule.  And most of the sellers I'm running into are at least somewhat willing to negotiate with a qualified buyer who comes in good faith with a reasonable offer on their home. 

OK, there are a few words in that last sentence -

  • Qualified buyers are those who can be reasonably expected to complete the transaction.  They have either been pre-approved at or over the asking price, or they can show "proof of funds for readily available liquid assets they'll need to reach the settlement table.
  • "Good faith" means honorable intentions - they are being honest about their wish to buy and in sharing how they plan to make it happen.
  • And reasonable?  Now that one is sort of loaded!

In helping buyer clients craft an offer, here are some of the things I counsel to look (and be?) reasonable:

  • Is the list price in line with recent selling prices for similar homes?  If it is, coming in a little under the asking price might work, but way under a reasonable list price is a genuine long shot.
  • If a home is new to the market, beautifully staged and priced to sell, it might not be the best candidate.  There are wonderful homes that show terribly, but are amazing, waiting to happen.
  • If the house has been on the market for more than a month or two, the sellers might be more willing to negotiate than if it's newly listed.  After a while, they might be sick of keeping the beds made and dishes washed so that it's always "show ready".
  • Is the house vacant?  If the buyers have already moved to their new home, they may be carrying two mortgages, which is a strong motivation for them to consider an offer seriously.
  • If you are trying to get your sellers to take a much lower price, don't load the offer up with a lot of superfluous contingencies, and don't ask them to convey their grand piano, dining room chandelier, or the Labradoodle.  Keep your offer clean.
  • Offer a high earnest money deposit, which most sellers will take as a sign that you are very serious about buying their home.
  • Don't fool around!  If you want the house, you'll have a far better chance of getting it if you are the only offer on the table.  Once another buyer comes in with a competing offer, the dynamics totally change. 

Good agents know that there is a lot more to an offer than the price.  And often, attractive terms will work their magic, both on the home owners and the agent who is giving them advice.


Comment balloon 9 commentsPatricia Kennedy • June 25 2014 10:27AM


Pat,  There are still some deals to be had.  It never hurts to submit an offer and see what happens.

Posted by Belinda Spillman, Colorado Living! (Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado) about 6 years ago

This is great advice, especially in a difficult market for buyers. Determining that "reasonable" offer is key.

Posted by Jane Peters, Los Angeles real estate concierge services (Home Jane Realty) about 6 years ago

Excellent advice Pat.  Now in hopes it falls on so many with deaf ears. 

Posted by John McCormack, CRS, Honesty, Integrity, Results, Experienced. HIRE Me! (Albuquerque Homes Realty) about 6 years ago

Belinda, there are bunches of deals to be had!

Jane, and yes, it's that pesky "reasonable" thing.

And John,  no!  Not on deaf ears!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 6 years ago

Patricia ...I see this happen everyday make a great point!

Have a great night!

Posted by Rob Thomas, Bristol TN-VA & Tri Cities Agent, ABR, GRI, e-Pro (Prestige Homes of The Tri Cities, Inc. CALL....423-341-6954) about 6 years ago

If the price is low, then the terms need to be clean, clean, clean!

Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) about 6 years ago

Pat, I listed a one-level home last week that garnered lots of showings and offers. In three days, we had 30 showings and 6 offers; 4 of those were cash. Anyhow, I was amazed that some of the offers still asked for closing assistance. I told each agent that terms mattered as much as price. The seller took the offer that had the best price and terms. Everything matters.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) about 6 years ago

If the home gives you chills of the good kind, just make the offer.  Don't dicker around with the terms or price.  You would be devistated if someone slipped in while you were playing around.

Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) about 6 years ago

Hi Pat -- in our market a well-priced and well-presented property will typically receive a lot of attention in the first week on the market.  These may not be the best candidate for a less than full price offer but after that and for some reason the home has not sold(or has fallen out of escrow -- also not so uncommon) a reasonable price along with good terms may make that "ideal home" a dream come true.

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 about 6 years ago