How to Counter Offer if Selling a Home

Selling your home may involve negotiating back and forth.

Selling your home may involve negotiating back and forth.

When you’re selling your home, the process of negotiating with prospective buyers often involves a volley of offers and counteroffers before both parties agree. As the seller, if you receive an offer that you don't like, it’s time to counteroffer the offer with terms that you feel are more acceptable. With the right approach, you should be able to hammer out a golden deal.

Examine the offer from the potential buyer and consider it carefully. While you will probably focus on the offer price first, spend time reading all the other terms of the offer as well. Note the closing date, any items the buyer wants included with the house and any contingencies the buyer has stipulated in the offer. These are all terms that you may wish to include in your counteroffer.

Determine which terms you find acceptable in the offer. These are the terms that you will accept and that you will not address in the counteroffer.

Examine the terms you do not find acceptable to decide how you wish to counteroffer. Write out the specific terms you will counteroffer with the terms you will offer the buyer. For example, if the offer price was acceptable but the closing date was too soon, counteroffer with a different closing date that you find acceptable. If the offer included a price that you feel is too low, a common negotiation strategy is to attempt to "meet in the middle" or "split the difference" between the two prices. Another common technique is to match the increments moved by each party. If the buyer increases the purchase price $3,000, you might decrease the purchase price $3,000 in an attempt to make equal concessions.

Utilize a “give-and-take” approach in the counteroffer. For example, if one of the buyer’s terms was that all appliances would be included in the sale, you might counteroffer by including the kitchen appliances but removing the washer and dryer from the sale price. Another give-and-take example might be to offer the buyers all the window coverings in the home in exchange for the buyers paying half of your closing fees. In a buyers' market, the seller may be more likely to pay all closing costs.

Draft your counteroffer, putting every detail in writing. Sign and date the counteroffer. If you have a real estate agent representing you for the sale of your home, the agent will draft the counteroffer. Present the counteroffer to the buyers or the buyers’ agent in person – your agent will do this, if applicable.

Analyze any counteroffers that you receive from the buyer. You might accept a counteroffer or you might counteroffer a second time.


  • There are many different strategies used by sellers and buyers when negotiating a deal. You will have to decide how hard you wish to play with the buyers when forming your counteroffer. If you have plenty of interest in your house, you probably have a stronger negotiating position than if you have not had many prospective buyers. A real estate agent or broker will be able to assist you by recommending reasonable negotiations and counteroffers.
  • Check the expiration date of the offer to purchase to ensure that you respond within the allotted time. Allow one or two days to elapse, if possible, after receiving an offer and before counteroffering. This time may produce another offer that you find more acceptable. It also serves to unnerve the buyers, which may make them more willing to accept your counteroffer.
  • Closing costs can be a significant factor when negotiating the sale of a house. As the seller, your fees may include prorated property taxes, appraisal fees, title insurance, loan points and your broker's commission. You may also have to pay a small percentage of the mortgage fee. It's perfectly reasonable to include requests about who will pay what in the offer to purchase.

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About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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