Hawaii Randy's Real Estate Opinions: Did You Really Expect a Counter Offer?

Did You Really Expect a Counter Offer?

Purchase ContractWhile teaching a class on purchase contract negotiations, I used an example of a home seller who rejected an offer.  The buyer's agent was upset that they didn't counter.

It was an appropriately priced home, that showed well.  The buyer sent in an offer for $100,000 less than the asking price.  There was no cover letter, no pre-approval letter and the contract looked like it was written by a 3rd grader.  No indication they were serious or would be able to close.  So the seller rejected the offer.

The buyer's agent responded immediately and demanded and explanation as to why they didn't counter.

Here is where the buyer and their agent went wrong:

  1. The price was so far from anything the seller would accept, they had no common ground.  They were not going to meet them in the middle or anything close to it.
  2. The contract was not executable.  In the rare case that the seller considered accepting the price, they could not sign the contract.  They would be forced to counter to clean up the mistakes.  The counter would require a re-write of the entire contract to clean up mistakes.  If they have to counter to clean up the contract, the price is on the table too.  This mistake weakens the buyer's hand in a negotiation.
  3. The buyer did not persuade the seller they were serious.
  4. The buyer's agent showed a lack of professionalism and convinced the other side this would be a painful at best escrow, if it ever got there.
  5. The buyer did not make the case that they could close if they got to escrow.
  6. Bottom line - The buyer did not give the seller any real basis for a negotiation.

When you make an offer on a home you need to do a few things.

  1. Present a clean, executable contract.  If they sign it, you are going to escrow.  Be sure they are not forced to counter, to clean up your contract.  If they do, everything is on the table.
  2. Demonstrate that if they accept your offer, they will be dealing with a professional and not an idiot.
  3. If you offer less than the seller wants to accept, make your offer strong and attractive in every other way.  Make them think twice before taking the risk of losing your buyer by countering.
  4. Here's the bottom line.  You need to make the case that if they take their home off the market, you will bring it to closing.

When presenting an offer, make the other side feel comfortable dealing with you.  If they feel confident you can close, they may be a little more negotiable.  Solid buyers do not grow on trees.  Flaky buyers and flaky agents do not get the same level of respect.

I just added a follow-up blog post to this one: Not All Realtors® Agree - Rejection vs. Counter Offer



Randy L. Prothero, REALTOR®

Broker-in-Charge, ABR, AHWD, CRB, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, MRP, SFR

eXp Realty

Team Leader - "The Prothero Group"

Randy Prothero is well established as an expert in working with military / VA clients and first time home buyers.  His home seller's (listing) campaign is one of the most aggressive marketing programs in the area.  His luxury home listings sell faster and for more money.

Based out of Mililani, Hawaii. Randy services the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) Performs mediations and ombudsman services for the Board of Realtors.  To improve overall professionalism in his area Randy also offers classes for real estate agents. 

www.HawaiiRandy.comOahu (Honolulu County) Property Search  Hawaii Military Relocations

Comment balloon 236 commentsRandy Prothero • November 14 2010 12:50PM


In other words, use basic, common sense business practices.  A letter from the buyer and a pre-approval letter from a solid lender should be part of every offer submitted.  Sounds like you're a good listing agent and instructor.

Posted by Rick Obst over 8 years ago

You are so true.  You would think that most all of the inexperienced and unprofessional agents would be out of the business by now.  I think some of them just went to part-time status.

Posted by Rodney Mason, AL,FL,GA, SC, TN (Angel Oak Home Loans) over 8 years ago

Rick - Thank you

Rodney - There are so many part time agents.  I also get offers like these from fullt-ime agents.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

That is funny but I do agree on your points at the end.  Especially is that if you are going to make crazy offer make sure you call and explain why doing such a number.  Of course be prepared to be laughed at too!

Posted by Stanley Stepak, Realtor - Avon Lake, Avon, Bay Village, Westlake, (Howard Hanna - Avon Lake, OH) over 8 years ago


I have "suggested" this for a feature!  Well done indeed. Buyers agents need to be aware, that having the where with all to back up what you are proposing, presented in a clean, professional manner, will increase your chances of successfullyachieving a meeting of the minds and a closing.

Posted by Allison Stewart, St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904 (St.Cloud Homes ) over 8 years ago

Stan - If the price is crazy at least fill in the contract correctly.

Allison - Thank you.  I have had a couple of hundred agents take my contract negotiating class.  I am hoping to influence more agents to clean up their contracts.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

Randy---you are right on target.  Even if the price is not "right" for the sellers, a well executed and properly presented offer has a better chance of getting a counter offer or even accepted.  I am constantly amazed when an offer is presented in such a manner.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 over 8 years ago

Michael - I am more amazed that when and agent presents an offer in that manner they expect better results.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

I hit the "suggest" button too....this is clearly written and easy to understand, I hope some agents will read this and learn.

Posted by Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner, Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395 (Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395) over 8 years ago

Karen - Thank you!

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago


Great narrative for BOTH buyers and seller to learn from.

Posted by Bill Pohl (Tetra Homes, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Bill - Thank you

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

Randy, your last point is so crucial. At this time, when things are so tenuous during the closing process, it is up to the buyer and their agent to convince all parties they not only want to perform but can and will.

Posted by Colleen Fischesser Northwest Property Shop, A Tradition of Trust in the Pacific NW since 1990! (RE/MAX Advantage | Managing Broker) over 8 years ago


Great point and I think it's good to call it what it is....

$100K less?  REALLY???  (depending on price of course, could be a waste of everybody's energy?)

These are important issues, thoughts and ideas that the public desperately needs right now.

Thanks for posting!


Posted by TODD PICCONI 909.908.7376 GROW WHERE YOU'RE PLANTED, Your #1 Choice for Southern California Real Estate (TODD PICCONI REAL ESTATE) over 8 years ago

Colleen - I think it is crucial.

Todd - Thank you.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

When I was new to real estate, many Realtors thanked me for presenting "such a clean offer." I finally asked a colleage what "a clean offer" consisted of. Eight years later, and I'm still receiving praise for writing clean offers - typed in ZipForms, presented with Buyer info and Letter from Lender.

And when I make a low-ball offer (not one as ridiculous as you mentioned), I would call the Listing Realtor BEFORE I e-mailed an offer over.

Posted by Lori Cain, Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

This is a sad testimony to the lack of training required to become a licensed real estate agent.

Posted by Vickie Nagy, Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen (Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Randy....good job on this post....both buyers and sellers can learn from it.

Posted by Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty, Florida Space Coast Homes (Waves Realty) over 8 years ago

Huge pet peeve of mine! It's a shame that buyers don't research their agent before the handing them the authority to execute such important documents. Good post! Anything that helps agents do a better job is so valuable!

Posted by Anonymous over 8 years ago

If the offer to purchase was un-executable it really wasn't an offer. A true offer (with exceptions) can be signed and ratified immediately.

Posted by Robert Slick, NRBA, RDCPro, Trident/CCAR MLS (Beach and River Homes) over 8 years ago

Well said!!!  Buyer's agents need to choose an agent with as much care as sellers do. How many times have you heard about their part-time cousin, brother, sister who is going to write the offer or their lender friend, etc.  WOW...Getting into a home is just as important as getting out of a home, in fact the right choice getting in makes the getting out more lucrative for you in the long run.

Posted by Terrylynn Fisher, HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc. (Dudum Real Estate Group - BuyStageSell.com) over 8 years ago

I have always included a cover letter with my offers.  This allows the sellers and the listing agent to know exactly why we offered what we did or why we need this or that, etc.  As a result, I feel like I have been more successful in getting offers accepted, or at least getting a good counter offer.

Posted by Russell Benson (Berkshire-Hathaway HomeServices/Anderson Properties) over 8 years ago


As an agent, I never want to be in a position of having one of my client's offers rejected, instead of countered. If that happens, I don't feel like I'm doing my job.


Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 8 years ago

Randy...I often remind my agents that a counter offer -Is a "NO" with an opening for a maybe. But the NO is what the other side here's first, and many times you can't put the deal back together again...So the first offer better be good and not an amateurs stab in the dark.

Posted by Steve Loynd, 800-926-5653, White Mountains NH ( Alpine Lakes Real Estate Inc., ) over 8 years ago


I received a sloppy lowball with no proof of funds once. The potential buyer was the agent writing the offer, who also neglected to disclose his RE license on the offer as required by law here.  And he was so mad that I told him I couldn't present to the sellers as is that he threatened not to buy the home...

The upshot is a higher offer was received, negotiated and accepted long before this agent got his paperwork right.

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) over 8 years ago

Randy -  my fave part of your post is: 

  • Demonstrate that if they accept your offer, they will be dealing with a professional and not an idiot.
  • Posted by Susan Emo, Kingston and the 1000 Islands Area (Sotheby's International Realty Canada - Brokerage) over 8 years ago

    Great write . . . AND conversely, an offer that IS well written, accompanied by comps and approvals and clean as a whistle, even with a low offering price (I don't know about 6 figures low, but lower than list) just might make it thru. :)

    Posted by Candice A. Donofrio, 928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text (Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker) over 8 years ago

    I tend to think that a counter offer is a refusal and essentially means "no"  With that said, I always encourage my buyers to submit their best offer and hope that if it isn't accepted we can negotiate an acceptable price from there.

    Patricica/ Seacoast NH & ME

    Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) over 8 years ago

    Randy - Hellloooo...is it really that hard to do...presenting a proposed contract that is complete, accurate, reasonable and something a seller can take seriously? Sounds like your class is desperately needed.


    Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) over 8 years ago

    I received an offer recently and the SELLER had to decipher the handwriting with me because it was so illegible.   Personally, I think that is SO unprofessional.   Getting what you received does little if anything to move toward an acceptance.

    Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (RealtyQuest/Kinard Realty Group, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) over 8 years ago

    This sounds like a case of you really don't want to work with all of them!!!!  Sometimes just turning it down is the best thing rather than getting into a deal that may never close.  Who wants that!!!

    Posted by Mary Macy, Top Agents Atlanta Metro (Top Agents Atlanta Metro) over 8 years ago

    Randy, I am amazed when I get a contract sent to me with a 9 month old preapproval that has expired & is for the wrong amont

    Posted by Jeana Cowie, Broker Associate, ABR, CRS, GRI, SRES (RE/MAX Real Estate Limited) over 8 years ago

    I loved your list of things to do for a serious buyer... I'll be sure to shre that message.

    Posted by Shellie Alicia Carter (REAL. | Realtyka, LLC) over 8 years ago

    Great post...there should not be any reason or excuse for not writing a clear, concise, offer. 

    I have found that the more prepared the buyer's realtor is and having all necessary forms, pre approval, etc. makes for the BEST representation of behalf of your buyer....and if the buyer's offer is much lower certainly a professional courtesy call to the seller's realtor as one professional to another will certainly go much farther in negotiating a sale.  First impressions always sets the tone... make it the very best! 

    Posted by MJ Olsen, Specializing In Homes That Fit Your Lifestyle! (Coldwell Banker The Ron Brown Company) over 8 years ago

    Excellent post Randy and some great comments also...As far as counter-offers are concerned...It's common practice here...Negotiation...I've gone back and forth 7 times!...Enjoy the day

    Posted by Ernie Steele, Call me, let's get started!!! 717-273-3774 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty) over 8 years ago

    Wow Randy...

    In our area, buyers are so rare that our sellers rely on us (the listing agent) to make it work.

    It is our job to sell the house, and not to infer motive or intent. Bring me ANY buyer, and I'll find common ground.

    Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) over 8 years ago

    Sounds like you were definitely dealing with an agent that is either new to the business or does not understand how to submit a proper offer.  Most of the time, this is due to lack of training by the broker.  Sometimes it is best to send an email back to the agent explaining that the offer is not completed and that they need to resubmit with the correct information.  Also, if someone is offering a price that is so far from the asking price, it must be due to lack of knowledge of the buyer or lack of control of the buyer by the agent.  When I have buyers that want to offer that low, I tell them that I cannot do that unless I can provide sold comparables to support that lower price.  Good luck and hopefully this type of agent is not the norm in your market!

    Posted by Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group) over 8 years ago

    Randy, My buyers low ball nearly every offer now, whether the home is priced at market or not.  My client base is Engineers and they aren't trusting the market, at all.  Can't convince them typically either.  I think the difference is:  I send a CLEAN contract with an approval letter, a big earnest money check and pray the seller counters back, lol.  

    Posted by Elizabeth Cooper-Golden, Huntsville AL MLS (Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group)) over 8 years ago

    Lori - From the first day in the business, I also took pride on clean offers.

    Vicky N. - Better training would help.

    Jeffrey - Thank you

    Robert S. - I completely agree.

    Terrylynn - Excellent points

    Russell - I have had the same experience.

    Richard - I agree, it tells us we missed the mark.

    Steve L. - Good points!

    Irene - I have seen that happen several times, where a better offer came in while they were trying to clean their offer up.

    Susan E. - I thought about taking the idiot part out, but felt it best drove home the point.

    Candice - If it clean, it at least it has a chance.

    Patricia - I agree, it can be hard to negotiate from an opening insult.  Giving a good offer will at least keep the negotiations possible.

    Jeff D. - I have gotten pretty good feedback from the students.  Many of the techniques I teach came from my blog posts.

    Barbara A. - What would happen if you were in court and the buyer says that it said something other than what you thought it said.  That is a great reason for typing all contracts.

    Mary M. - That is the unfortunate impression you get from an offer like that.  That is unfortunate for their client anyway.

    Jeana - That tells me the agent is not doing their job every well.

    Shellie - Thank you

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    Where is it written that every offer has to have a response. No response is a rejection. 

    Sadly, many agent tout their "negotiating" skills, which usually consists of writing low offers. 

    Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 8 years ago

    MJ - I agree completely.

    Ernie - I have had some that went back and forth, but they are an extreme exception to the rule.

    Richard - I would think they may be impossible with a $100,000 gap and a contract that is a complete mess.  Even if you pull it together somehow, escrow will be a disaster.

    Karen - I still submit them to my client.  Our state law requires that, even if it is incomplete.  I have found that a rejection seems to get their attention in these cases.  If the buyer is serious, it may help jolt them into reality.

    Elizabeth - By writing that clean offer and doing everything else, you properly represented your client.  Hopefully it at least brings a counter.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    Wow, it still amazes me that agents write such poorly written offers, not to mention pretty insulting if it was that low. How is that representing the interests of their clients? and Lenn is right... sellers are not required to counter. A good lesson for all agents... thanks for sharing.

    Posted by Gloria Valvasori, Accredited Senior Agent, REAL Experience | REAL Commitment | REAL Results! (BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS REAL ESTATE SIGNATURE SERVICE) over 8 years ago

    Great post.  We can all learn from it.

    Wishing you continued success.

    Posted by Constantine Isslamow, "Training and Accountability" (Century 21 United Realty Inc. ) over 8 years ago

    Lenn - I too have found that it is the agent and not the client driving the low ball in many cases.

    Gloria - If we are anywhere close I recommend to my clients to counter.  At $100,000 apart, what would be the counter?

    Constantine - Thank you

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    Whilst I agree for the most part $100,000 off asking is not uncommon for high priced homes here. I also have on occassion had to present such offers, even after all the education in the world some still want to go thru with it! But I do warn them they are really just wasting everyones time. Such is our job eh?

    Posted by Corinne Guest, Barrington Lifestyles (Barrington Realty Company) over 8 years ago

    Corrine - There are some buyers that need to fail in order to realize what is real.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    I would play the game and suggest that my seller make a counter.  You never know.

    Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 8 years ago

    Tammie - What would you counter to?  Full priceless less $5000?

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    As a buyer agent I would include the comparable sales used to arrive at the offer price. That way the Seller and seller agent can have a reasonable conversation about market value prior to making a counter.

    Posted by Michelle Carr-Crowe Just Call 408-252-8900 Top 1%!, Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years (Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty) over 8 years ago

    Unfortunately our industry has many people who took the basic licensing requirements and didn't do much more than that with respect to their license to be a professional.

    Many people refer to them as part timers.  I think that's incorrect re: labelling.  I've seen disfunctional part timers and full-timers do the exact same.

    Here is the good news... The majority of disfunctional agents are out of the business already.  More will be getting out soon :)

    Frank D'Angelo EcoBroker

    Minneapolis MN

    Posted by Frank D'Angelo, Helping people is my business in Real Estate (EXIT REALTY NEXUS Minneapolis & St. Paul MN) over 8 years ago

    My advice to buyers who want to go low is that they had best clean up everything else in the contract .  Out the pressure on the seller - "I'm a strong buyer - lets just work out the price" is the message we want to send.

    This agent did his client no good by writing up such a sloppy contract.

    Posted by Jeanne Dufort, Madison and Lake Oconee GA (Coldwell Banker Lake Country) over 8 years ago

    Randy, this is an excellent post. Unfortunately, there are agents that would like to consider themselves qualified that don't understand what a viable offer should consist of.

    Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 8 years ago

    Randy...  Well said, excellent post.  In my opinion, it's OK to be aggressive, but you need to have the tool belt loaded up for the other agent to get the seller to calm down and come back with a counter, even if it is to say, not close, give me a fair offer that we can talk about..

    Posted by Ken Cash, Lake Tahoe Lake Front Homes, Luxury Homes, Condomi (CB Select Real Estate at Lake Tahoe - 775.691.3855 - ) over 8 years ago

    An excellent post Randy that I know some agents in our area could benefit greatly from!  The sad thing is that the folks who need to read this probably aren't.  Thanks.

    Sue of Robin and Sue

    Posted by Robin Dampier REALTOR®, Hendersonville & Western NC Real Estate Source (Coldwell Banker King) over 8 years ago

    So sad that this needs to be explained, but obviously it does! Ridiculous and unprofessionally presented offers will be ignored every time.

    Posted by K.C. McLaughlin, Realtor, e-PRO, Homes for Sale - Cary, Raleigh NC (RE/MAX United) over 8 years ago


    So very true.  How well completed an offer is with supporting documentation makes a huge difference on how we handle it.  Of course, we want our seller's under contract, but that's IF we believe we can actually get to the closing table and get it SOLD.  

    All the best, Michelle

    Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) over 8 years ago

    Randy, We think we know THAT agent!

    She tried to do the same to us...

    But she didn't even call and tell us she had an offer. She just emailed it in!

    Posted by Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400, Long Island Home and Condo Specialists (The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803) over 8 years ago

    I rewrite contracts through counter offers all the time. I have no idea if the offer is the buyer's agent's first-ever offer. What have you got to lose by countering? Nothing, really. And, besides, it gives you the right to issue a multiple counter offer should a real offer arrive, and I love multiple counters.

    Posted by Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents, Put 40 years of experience to work for you (Lyon Real Estate) over 8 years ago

    That is why it is so important to not take any contract for granted.. I myself received an offer from an agent that had 15 years in the biz on me and it was a mess... then he left town and said he was in a hurry. Thank God it was a lengthy short sale and it took a while to get everything in place but it was work that was really not my job to do, but I did for my Sellers.

    Posted by Sherilyn M. Whistler, Need a Referral, Call Me ! (ERA Herman Group Real Estate-NoCo) over 8 years ago

    Great post. While not every offer would, or should, have a counter, or even an answer for that matter, if we all just do what we're supposed to, situations like this will be avoided for the most part. Professionalism speaks volumes.

    Posted by Eric Michael, Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519 (Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI) over 8 years ago

    Hi Randy~  You can't blame a seller for simply refusing a really low offer, especially if there is no loan commitment letter with it or if it is incomplete! 

    Posted by Vickie McCartney, Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY (Maverick Realty) over 8 years ago

    Randy, you bring up some very good points, I have always advised my sellers to counter, the "ridiculous offer" with everything they want, including lender letter etc. and put the counter back in the buyers hands to see if they are seriuos or not.

    Posted by John Marshall - FORE!, Specializing in Golf Course Properties (The K Company Realty) over 8 years ago

    What an interesting post...  And to see everyones responses was interesting too!

    Posted by Chris Alston, Silicon Valley, California (Chris Alston (Keller Williams Realty, Silicon Valley, California)) over 8 years ago

    I generally counsel clients to counter almost anything... even if it is a full price counter.  I've actually had a few sales where the original offer was all but insulting, but we were able to pull something out of it.

    Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) over 8 years ago

    I am new to business but I have always taken care when writingoffers I write, Its funny how poorly some of the "seasoned" agents  contacts are because they don't feel like putting the time into the process.

    Posted by Sean Railton (Park City Realty Group) over 8 years ago

    Randy, liked your detailed reasons for seller not accepting the offer.

    New agents should shadow someone or get help from someone if they are writing the offer for first time. Lack of education should not be an excuse to make such 'blunders'.

    Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 8 years ago

    Great post Randy!

    I hate it when you get those contracts that are full of errors.

    Posted by Harry Logan (RE/MAX executives realty) over 8 years ago

    Michelle C. - The seller and their agent should have done that before putting it on the market.

    Frank D' - Don't worry they will come back when the market picks up again.

    Jeanne - The agent did not do a good job of representing their client in that case.

    Ed S. - Even one of them would be too many.

    Ken - I agree, give them something to work with.

    Sue - If those agents were spending time on the blogs, they would have this stuff down better.

    K.C. - There is definitely a need.

    Michelle F. - We do want to be under contract, but only if it can close.

    Larry & Sheila - I also get her cousin who calls to tell me they are sending an offer and then it never comes.

    Elizabeth - Even if they are new, their broker is required to review all contracts in my state.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    Sherilyn - Taking a contract for granted is not a good way to represent their client.  Shame on that agent.

    Eric - Professionalism really makes a difference.

    Vickie - I could not recommend the seller do anything else.

    John - I normally recommend they counter, but in a case like this I do not see the point.  If the buyer's are serious at all, they will bring a better offer.  I believe you should let the buyer's agent know what was wrong with the offer.

    Chris - Some good feedback for sure.

    Lane  - On the other side, I have had a couple of buyer's who got rejected and came back with a better offer.

    Sean - It is a real shame that a seasoned agent would not take better care of their clients.

    Praful - I shadowed and experienced agent and my broker when I started.  You are absolutely right, inexperience is no excuse.  If you are taking a commission, the client is entitled to the highest quality of care.

    Harry - can you imagine what it would be like to be in escrow across from the agent who wrote that messy contract?

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    I have been working only buyers for almost 20 years...occasionally, I have to submit an offer from a buyer that thinks they know more than me and are going to do what THEY think is right.  That does not make them crazy or someone who will not buy THAT house.

    When a seller does not counter, and expects the buyer to submit another offer, that probably won't happen...and the buyer will go buy something else, where the seller's door is still open.

    I think that a seller should always counter offer....even if it is at full price.  It tells the buyer that the seller actually saw the offer and is willing to engage in negotiations.

    Eve in Orlando

    Posted by Mike & Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) over 8 years ago

    Randy, you hammer some great points. I think of this as give and take.  

    Posted by Frank Rubi, FrankRubiRealEstate.com (Frank Rubi Real Estate, LLC) over 8 years ago

    Randy, this is just so true.  Maybe the buyers agent knew it had no chance to be accepted but was told to submit over his objections, so he didn't put a lot of effort into it.

    Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) over 8 years ago

    Writing up and submitting an offer on a home is one of the most important functions that we do. If we don't get that right, what else is there?

    If I am in the process of submitting a low offer I take the time to have a conversation with the listing broker and make a case for why the offer is coming in where it is.  Everything needs to be backed up as much as humanly possible. And, an offer without a letter of pre-approval is completely unacceptable.


    Posted by Claudette Millette, Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass (The Buyers' Counsel) over 8 years ago

    Sounds like a classic mistake: with so many things wrong, there is almost no right!  I have a less than full price offer to present today, and even though I know what my seller will say, I have to present and encourage them to counter -the listing has been on the market for too long to not "talk" to a potential buyer.

    Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) over 8 years ago

    Randy, on that first offer the buyers are many times fishing. Only once that I received a really low offer, did I not get a reasonable counter back. I will negotiate to the hilt on an offer, but hey I am in Michigan and not Hawaii.


    Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 8 years ago

    I pride myself on the clean contracts I submit. Oftentimes it does make the difference as to which contract is accepted when the offers are very close. As you say, listing agents want to work with buyer agents who will be on top of the transaction to assure a smooth closing process. A clean offer is an opportunity to show that an agent will be meticulous in the details. Thanks for your clear blog on this.

    Posted by Peggy Duffy (The Bailey Team Real Estate) over 8 years ago

    Hi Randy - Low ball offers seem to be the name of the game right now.  I always encourage sellers to counter back with something and see if we can get into a reasonable negotiation.  That being said, there is no excuse for the remainder of the contract to not be well written.

    Posted by Pam Dent, REALTOR® - Charlottesville Virginia Homes / Horse (Gayle Harvey Real Estate, Inc.) over 8 years ago

    $100,000 below list and no preapproval letter? And they want to know why their buyers offer was not countered. All I have to say is "Duh".

    Posted by Ann Cordes, Home Ownership is Not a Distant Dream (Century 21 Randall Morris and Associates, Waco) over 8 years ago

    You are right on.

    Posted by Nick Propps, President, 20 Year Commercial & Residential Expert (Statesboro Properties) over 8 years ago

    My general rule is to always write a counter offer. Why? No is no, the deal for the buyer and seller is dead. The buyer, however, can always write another offer and if this is to be the case why not let them know what will get further consideration?

    Counter offer: 1) full price. This is another way of saying that the offer is too low for reasonable negotiations so let's start over. 2) "Buyer to provide upon acceptance" financing pre-approval letter, earnest money deposit. 3) Second deposit within x days...etc. 4) other points of contention that you want made clear.


    $100,000 below asking price? But, what percentage is that? If the asking price was $1.2M...that's not a bad number to start, right? All the other issues nothwithstanding.

    Posted by Bob Pisa, Broker Associate, Commitment, Service, Satisfaction... (Downing-Frye Realty, Inc. Naples, FL) over 8 years ago

    I recently received an offer on a listing that I have.  The buyer came in with an offer that was 18,000 less than what the seller was asking.  Important to note that the subject property is an extremely clean listing, completely updated and properly staged.  My seller's first instinct was to tear the offer to shreds but I convinced him to let me do a counter with a CMA and a letter of response outlining the reasons the seller were respectfully countering to the offer.  The buyer when presented with the comparables and a reasonable explanation of the listing price accepted the seller's counter offer and we now have a fully executed agreement of sale.  I found that a polite and professional response brought all the parties together in a successful negotiation.

    Posted by Angela Young over 8 years ago

    Well presented. I enjoyed reading this and think it is food for thought when working with buyers in this market.

    Posted by Joan Carrier over 8 years ago

    Randy excellent post.  My first year in the biz I learned all about writing good contracts and rejecting stuped offers (and that was in 87!).  I had sellers that did just that and at first I thought they should counter at least.  My broker laid it all to me and it made total sense why they rejected the stupid offer. The buyers did come back with another contract but priced well and written with terms good for the seller.  That was a huge lesson for me and I've been grateful ever since to have had such a great broker/teacher.

    Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886, Arizona's Top Banana! (Phoenix Property Shoppe) over 8 years ago

    Very nicely presented.....I have even discussed the best approach with the other agent before offers were written.....that way things go smoother and its a one time thing.......Good post and thank you

    Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 8 years ago


    I always like to read what you have to say..case in point, this post! I am wondering if you have found that a Buyers' Market influences attitude of Buyers toward the side of feeling "entitled"...

    Posted by . 4Terra Land Brokers .. 828-776-0779 Asheville NC, What's Most Important to YOU? Call(828)-776-0779 ( REAL ESTATE RESOURCES & NETWORK ) over 8 years ago

    Excellent points. these points will help in my next discussion a buyer who wants to write something ridiculous.

    Posted by Mike Weber, 40+ years in Northern Colorado (Keller Williams Realty Northern Colorado) over 8 years ago

    I got a contract from someone a year ago that was so bad, we needed to have the buyers initial off on all the corrections. This agent was so irresponsible, and at one time he was one of the top agents in the county. They have made the classes and tests more difficult here in NC, but I'm often still surprised at some who have managed to get their license. 

    Posted by Dawn Crawley, Find Pinehurst Homes (Dawn Crawley Realty) over 8 years ago

    Great Job Randy!  Many agents should be surprised that they even recieved a counter.  Nioce work!

    Posted by Dustin Kimberlin (The Dustin Kimberlin Team Keller Williams Clients' Choice ) over 8 years ago

    Great post.  Whenever I get a an offer like that, my hair stands on end.  I know right away that it's going to be trouble right to the end, if there is one. 

    Also, when my buyers ask me if they can low ball an offer, this is what I tell them.   You can offer whatever you like, but remember that if you go too low chances are that you are going to insult the seller.  And once you insult the seller, they may not be willing to negoiate at all. 

    You would be surprised at how many buyers think that if they come back and offer full price that the seller is required to sell to them.  Once I explain that is not the case, they rethink their position and usually will write a reasonable offer.



    Posted by Linda S. Cefalu, Broker Assoc., I'll Take You Home (Coldwell Banker Homesale Realty) over 8 years ago

    "The buyer did not give the seller any real basis for a negotiation." Well said.

    Posted by Kevin Pellatiro, Kevin Pellatiro (Benchmark Realty) over 8 years ago

    A timely post and one we all need to hear from time to time. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by Tre Pryor, Realtor, e-PRO - Louisville (REMAX Champions) over 8 years ago

    There's nothing that says the buyer's agent can't come back with a new, cleanly drafted offer. Hopefully by you pointing out what was lacking, he/she has learned a lesson on crafting contracts and offers.

    Posted by Sandy Nelson, your Olympia area Realtor (Riley Jackson Real Estate Inc.) over 8 years ago

    How about a verbal counter to something like this?

    Posted by Peter Rhein (PCS) over 8 years ago

    The offer I received was exactly that, but my seller did decide to counter, after working on negotiations with her, net sheets, scenarios, etc for over an hour and a half...we put together a thoughtful counter offer, requesting the lender information, etc and asking for items that would clean up the contract.  Out of town seller using Docusign for signing the documents, etc - presented back to real estate 'broker' (using the term loosely)

    Every time I called the 'broker' btw, on the phone listed in the MLS as his contact number, I got a 'disconnect' number.  The one I finally had to call was scribbled on the fax cover sheet and barely legible.  When that number picked up with a voice mail message that stated "blank blank Real Estate and Blank Insurance Company" I'm thinking this isn't going to be easy.

    After 48 hours I called the said "broker" and his response was "Oh, uh, yes....which property?  Oh, yes...uh....my buyer didn't appreciate the counter offer and won't be responding"...

    Well, at least my seller now has a current Docusign signature created and can work the next offer quickly.

    Posted by Linda DeVlieg, Albuquerque Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty) over 8 years ago

    Once I listed a very nice home that was the original owners (47 years), nice part of town, updated, clean, ready to move in!  Sign went up Fri. morning, 2 showings that day and an offer by 6:00pm.  Great offer, EXCEPT the price!  The offer price was 12% off asking price!  After talking with the sellers, I called the agent back, politely thanked her for the offer, told her we liked all parts of the offer EXCEPT the price!  I said we are going to do nothing, just let it expire, and IF they are serious about the house, they are welcome to get back with us!

    The next morning, the offer comes back with only the price changed, to 98% of asking price!  They had an accepted offer within an hour!  If you want to play ball.......Get on the Right Field!!!!

    My other agreement with this article is the writing of contracts!  I was taught to NEVER sign any kind of a contract with BLANKS in it!  But, 99% of the offers on homes I have ever seen are FULL OF BLANKS!!  I was taught that if you have the following:

                           ____ is ________ is not  

    then you do the following:

                           __x__ is _____ is not

    No BLANKS!!!!!  When I see offers poorly written, I understand why sellers want us to reduce our commission!  Some agents don't earn what they get!  And as was stated, these offers are not worth a counteroffer!

    Posted by Woody Edwards, A Realtor® Who Answers His Phone! (First Choice Realty, Inc) over 8 years ago

    still shocks me that people low ball, agents don't know how to do a contract that is as easy as 123 abc



    Posted by Dave Woodson, Not the Average Agent (Dave Woodson) over 8 years ago

    I always have my sellers counter or write "reject"-- no matter what the offer looks or sound like. You never know when a REAL conversation is about to begin.

    On a poorly done offer, our counter just goes back at full price with the conditions crossed out.

    And it removes the accusation that the offer was never actually presented to the seller.


    Posted by Thomas McCombs (Century 21 HomeStar) over 8 years ago

    Good Morning Randy! I just found your post via a reblog and wanted to add a quick comment. A fellow agent recently received an offer on a short sale that was from a buyers agent purchasing for himself as an investment.  The offer had no dates (not even a date for execution) and absolutely nothing except for the price offered.  My friend sent him a message thanking him and saying she'd hold onto it to see what else came across (since apparently he had no concern about a quick response).  When she received another offer that was obviously from a professional, she contacted him to explain that a better offer had come in.  He flipped a lid at 'how unprofessional' she was to 'double cross' him that way.  It was a head scratcher, for sure.

    Posted by Dee Bundy, Helping You Make Colorado "Home" (Fort Collins Realtor @ C3 Real Estate Solutions) over 8 years ago

    Great Post.  We have to remember there is a reason we should be called a Real Estate Professional!!  First off we need to make sure we act like a Professional.


    Thanks for the blog...

    Posted by Greg Reynolds (Spin Realty) over 8 years ago

    Great thought provoking post Randy!  Lots of great comments too.

    Sometimes silence really is golden. With an offer so low and poorly written up...I don't think my Seller would have responded at all.

    Message delivered!!

    Have a great week.

    Ronda Densford signature

    Posted by Ronda Densford, Realtor - Jacksonville and Northeast Florida (Magnolia Properties) over 8 years ago

    I always recommend my sellers counter, even if the offer is ridiculous, however in this case it sounds like it may have been a moot point because you were dealing with an incomplete contract and one that may not have settled.  I just received an offer on a house that was $125k under the asking price and the buyers agent begged for a counter.  I had been telling the seller that the house was overpriced by about $50-$75k so when we got the offer, he did come down and we ended up meeting just about in the middle after going back and forth a couple times.  But THIS agent is professional, contract was fine, he's been in the business for a long time.  Both sides felt like they got what they could and so far everyone is happy!

    I was in the opposite position a few weeks ago, writing a very low offer for a buyer.  I did have a cover sheet on it explaining why the offer was as low as it was (short sale, buyer wanted to see how low the bank would go).  This agent was "insulted" and they totally rejected the offer.  I have a feeling the seller may not have been pleased because about a week later the agent was fired and they hired a short sale "expert" to handle the sale.

    Posted by David & Lisa Webber, www.webberteam.com (RE/MAX Executive) over 8 years ago

    Like any profession, we need to put time and effort into our work...and it doens't sound like that agent did that. Anytime I submitt an offer (lowball or not) I call the agent first and let them know it is coming. I always send a pre-approval and if for some reason I do not have it I let the agent know it is coming in a couple of hours or whatever it may be. The more effort and detail and professionalism that goes into our work the better it will present itself (and us)!

    Posted by Lisa over 8 years ago

    My view is that every offer should be countered even when the price is acceptable as there are always terms that could be structered more to the benefit of the seller, etc.  This is especially true in a weak market.  The issue addressed in this post is not really about countering an offer, but, rather receiving a legitimate offer in the first place.  Without a clearly written and legible contract and a mortgage pre-approval, or proof of cash funds, there really is no offer to counter.

    Posted by Jim McCormack, Nashville Short Sale REALTOR - Stop Foreclosure (Nashville Short Sale Specialist - Jim McCormack - Edge Advantage Realty, LLC - 615-784-EDGE (3343)) over 8 years ago

    Oh Randy, you must be looking in my files and listening in on my conversations....Yep, sometimes Buyer Rep agents shoot themselves in the foot by showing their buyer client how they will get them a "deal" and just try to beat the seller up....I usually do have the seller do a form we have in Texas that is titled Seller's Rejection of Offer by buyer and then in the body of the form it says "Seller may find an offer more "palatible" if it is:" and then it lists what the seller would take. It also says it is NOT a counter and that the seller may accept other offers. It's a good form, shows presentation (I've had agents think I didn't present the offer to the seller) and sends a message to get "real"to the buyer and his/her agent. I swear some agents must not have even graduated from kindergarten much less know how to spell or write proper English.

    Posted by Lane Mabray (Houston/Katy; RE/MAX Westside Realtors) over 8 years ago

    Hi Randy

    Great blog and excellent subject.  I believe that this demonstrates another major problem in our industry and that is lack of broker supervision.  When I began in this business, all contracts had to be reviewed by the broker or manager prior to being presented.  These were the good old days when buyers agents presented their contracts in person.  But this practice forms good offers and professionalism across the board.   You will not soon forget the humiliation of having to rewrite a contract and go back to the buyer with it and you will not make that mistake again.  The lack of training that new agents get haunts them throughout their entire career.  How many new agents select an office to work in based on a commission split not on how much training they will receive?   Training is the key to success in this industry and sadly it is not sought or provided in many cases.  I remember many new agents needing the manager to go out on listing presentations and offer presentations in the beginning in order to gain professional experience.   Many of these agents are still in the business because they know what they are doing because they were trained from the start.

     I am amazed by the number of agents who do not know the broker affiliated with their office.   They only know the manager/agent who is out selling property and whose main job is to keep the lights on and the cash flowing.  They see the manager/agent at monthly (yes I said monthly not weekly) sales meetings.  Here in CA, broker supervision is a huge problem and truly the base cause of sloppy offers that are rejected.  How many times have I received a sloppy offer that warranted a huge counter on terms and conditions only to have a professional offer come in during the counter  period and win the property.  Of course, the sloppy agent was enraged but truly at the end of the day, broker supervision and training was the true problem.

    Posted by Linda M. Lukas (Lukas Properties) over 8 years ago

    A pet peeve of mine is ... sloppy paperwork!  I see it all the time, and with very experienced agents. That first impression is very important--and if, as a buyer's agent, you present a well executed, properly written offer with all the necessary paperwork and a phone call along with it--there is usually an immediate positive impression.

    Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) over 8 years ago

    Randy, I always recommend a counter but the ultimate success of any transaction in this market often depends on the agents involved, their communication & negotiation skills, professionalism and, sometimes, their reputation as a solid agent who does business and can get a Client to closing.  That applies to both listing agent and buyer's agent.  These are challenging times and my two favorite phrases are "don't try to make sense out of nonsense" and "stupid isn't fixable."

    Posted by Beverly Femia, Broker Realtor Stager - Greater Wilmington, NC Are (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) over 8 years ago

    So, so true, Randy.  Recently I had four offers come in on a new listing - the one with the lowest price had the least documentation and the most errors that had to be redone.  Turned down. One had full price (one of two) with all the Is dotted and the Ts crossed, a prequal letter AND proof of funds to close, cover letter describing buyers, their background, credit score and both desire and ability to close. That was accepted. The other two had two basic clauses that had been changed, so they were countered and are backups. If only buyers realized how important choosing an agent is!

    Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) over 8 years ago

    Thank you for the post. I had a similar offer presented this summer. The buyers (no agent representation) got a hold of a blank contract, filled it in (horribly with lots of missing info), no pre-approval, low ball offer, AND...forgot to mention their offer was contingent on the close of their impending FSBO. We attempted to resurrect a clean offer but there were so many red flags we passed.  The buyers were stunned.  Hmm...

    Posted by Patty Brown, Broker, REALTOR®, ABR® (Coldwell Banker Valley Brokers) over 8 years ago

    Good simple reminders to at least get your offer taken seriously. thanks

    Posted by Robby Leviton, Knowles Team (Keller Williams Realty) over 8 years ago

    I liked Lori Cain's remark. Pick up the phone.  Talk to the other agent.  Explain yourself.  Ask the crucial questions.  Trade information.  It's called being an . . . agent.

    Posted by Bob Jenkins (Century 21 Foothill) over 8 years ago

    while i have a general rule that all offers get countered there are some that are clearly frivolous...or ridiculous, and not only on price.

    we've all seen contracts that looked like they were composed WITH A SHOVEL and know that if a deal does develop it will be pure torture but our job is to explore each offer.    i advise my associaties that all offers are considered on their merits and slammed on  their deficiencies...occassionally i have to advise that there were no merits.


    Posted by Michael Ford, California+Hawaii+Oregon over 8 years ago

    It is pretty RE101-ish to not only submit an offer, but to follow it up with some other communication with the selling agent, right? While I agree 100% with the things you are saying, I just want to take a second t point out that as selling agents, it is in our best interest to bring good buyers. A simple phone call to the buyer agent sometimes can help clarify and strengthen the offer. There is no substitute for good communication. Rejecting an offer outright also sets a bad tone for future negotiations.

    Posted by Stacey Brown, REALTOR (ILM Realty) over 8 years ago


    Great point here. I try to remember the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. I write clean offers and include all supporting forms and I expect the other agents to do the same. If they cannot get the original offer sent, it tells me the entire transaction will be a real problem and probably will not close. With all the internet tools available, there is no reason for a sloppy offer.

     Buyer's agents need to educate their clients not to write ridiculously low offers or they will not be taken seriously. There is usually another buyer around the corner if this offer is rejected.

    Posted by Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor, (909) 557-6966- Specialize 55+ Communties Banning (Sun Lakes Realty) over 8 years ago

    Great article; great comments. 

    I always try to get my client to counter something, so we can keep the process going rather than letting it die.  However, one time I had a stubborn older gentleman client who was insulted by what he perceived as a lowball offer, who refused to counter at all.  He told me just to tell them to sharpen their pencil!

    I apologised to the buyer's agent, explained the mindset of my seller client and asked them to see if they couldn't offer something closer to asking price so he'd give it serious consideration.  They did - and they ended up buying that house!  And when it came time for them to sell it; guess who they called??  ME!

    Posted by Evelyn Black (Comey & Shepherd, Cincinnati, OH) over 8 years ago

    Amazing timing of this blog!!  I had an buyers agent call me this weekend because her buyer is desparate to purchase a property I have listed and her client offered over a $100,000 less than what the sellers were asking... I consulted my client and they were dumb founded by the offer, and told me to REJECT the offer... So I emailed the agent back REJECTED.... She called me up and said "how could you just send an email that said "rejected" and that I should have called her up to discuss it with her and her client really wants to purchase the property and why didn't we counter..  I told her that if her client really wanted to purchase the property that they should have made a more realistic offer and that my clients were not stupid, they know the market, they know how much houses are selling for, and that offer was ridiculous....

    Another good point to make is that buyers agents shouldn't get emotional about the deals they do, they are NOT purchasing the houses, and they need to remember that Listing Agents work for the Seller and that we have the sellers best interests on our minds, not if we hurt the buyers agent feelings if we write REJECTED on their offers!




    Posted by Dumb founded by buyers agent response over 8 years ago

    Great post! I am willing to bet that the unprofessional agents out there will never read it.

    Posted by Sylvia Jonathan over 8 years ago

    I agree with all my heart!

    Get the weak stuff - OUT OF HERE!!!!

    Posted by Cindy Mustafa over 8 years ago

    I agree with all my heart!

    Get the weak stuff - OUT OF HERE!!!!

    Posted by Cindy Mustafa over 8 years ago

    Randy - If buyers are going to tick off sellers with a lowball offer, they'd better have a) a clean contract submitted; b) a hefty binder deposit; c) no other "gimmes".  Even then the seller could very well say no. It certainly helps when buyers are working with an agent who knows what the heck they are doing.

    Posted by Coleen DeGroff, Haile Plantation Real Estate - Gainesville FL (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    Referring to what agents do today as presenting is a stretch. Sloppy offers, no contacts, no EMD, No pre-approval are sadly common today.

    Posted by Scott Petersen (Client First, Realtors - Canton, MI) over 8 years ago

    hard to believe anyone has difficulty in filling in the blanks on a contract. I have just low balled an over priced house. But I sent a cover letter explaining our offer. Followed up with a phone call to the agent to let him know I have a pre qualified client as I know the buyer had an offer fall apart on finance. Comisserated with the selling agent that he has a client with a property on the market for over 400 days without giving a price reduction. The YTD is 79 days in this area. Basically set the scene for a reasonable but serious negotiation. Be professional.

    Posted by Mark Spindloe, Mark Spindloe (Mitchell Realty Ltd.) over 8 years ago

    LOL,,, this is so scary that these agents exist. I feel for the buyer because the buyer doesn't know the process and that is why they went to the agent, to represent them correctly and professionally because they don't know the correct process.

    I have had buyers esxpect me to make an offer on a property before now and without a pre-approval or proof of funds, i said "I'm very sorry, but I am unable to present this offer without a pre-approval letter from the bank that is less than  90 days old, it's all about strenghtening the contract, showing the seller that you are serious about their property and there is a good chance of closing on it". And i insist on pre-approval, not pre-qualification. This is also for my benefit too, that I know my client is serious and not making me spin my wheels for nothing too.

    As far as $100,000 lower than asking price, I would make an offer that is this much lower if the CMA I did for my buyer showed the house way that much over-priced. I always do a CMA for my buyers.

    If the seller rejected it and didn't counter, well, I would just explain to my buyer that they need to experience the market a little longer, why don't we find something just as nice or nicer for the right price, unless you want to keep an eye on this one. The choice is there.

    Actually, I am in a situaton right now where I have a serious cash buyer in Miami (I ived there for 3 years and know the area and market very well) is obsessed with being in one particular building, a property came up that he wanted that got an offer from someone else faster than we got in there (foreclosure). So we are now watching it every day hoping the buyer walks so we can get it, and I will be making the offer for the asking price because I explained to my buyer it's worth it, it's under market value, it's in excellant condition (on the surface anyway, an inspection would confirm it). 


    Posted by Tracey Rosenblatt, SFR (BRITTON Group, Inc.) over 8 years ago

    We often submit offers that are 10-20% under asking price on listings.  I would guess less than half the listing agents respond.  Many don't even acknowledge that they got the offer.  $100K under asking price is ridiculous though unless the houses is a million dollar mansion.

    Posted by Rob Arnold, Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F (Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc.) over 8 years ago


    Had a similar experience recently. Received an offer that was for $80,000 which would have been fine other than the fact the property was fairly priced at $160,000. When my sellers and I didn't respond we were attacked by the buyers agent for being unprofessional and not countering. The truth is making an offer 50% less than the asking price of a property that comps support the price of is unprofessional in my opinion.

    All the best,


    Posted by Herb Johnson (Access Capital) over 8 years ago

    Writing clean offers is always important but I think this guys biggest problem is no one told him working with buyers that want to make offers 100k below fair market value is not going to make him much money. Although he may make some I just think for me personally my time is better spent with buyers that will be closer to fair market value.

    Posted by Sharon Newton, Making Real Estate Simple over 8 years ago


    All your comments are valid, especially when it comes to presenting and offer that is not complete enough to act upon. The story was a little vague on list price and such so maybe $100K is or is not a low ball offer. On the flip side...

    I do believe that a response is due any offer. The response can be a wide variety of responses. As I read your post, I think I would l responded with an email that just says due to the poor structure of the contract and incompleteness of the information my clients and I can not respond. Please follow normal protocol and send a completed contract with all supporting information. I would hope that the agent provided the prospective buyers contact information so could send it to them too.


    Posted by Anonymous over 8 years ago

    Perhaps it's me or just the market I'm in, but my philosophy is to ALWAYS respond either by counter or in this case an email or fax of the first page of the contract with "Respectfully Declined" written on the offer.  Serious buyers/agents will always come back to the table.  However, it sounds like this was a fishing expedition and not an offer with any real teeth.

    Posted by Lonni McDonough, Realtor - Eagle, ID Real Estate; 208-949-3845 (Coldwell Banker Tomlinson Group ) over 8 years ago

    Based on your facts, I wouldn't necessarily counsel the seller to reject the offer.  I have countered what appeared to be ridiculous offers on both terms and completion of the forms themselves.  It took one round of countering to determine whether the seemingly unserious buyers were actually serious.  Many buyers are bluffing and will come up in price and bend on other terms, so it is worth it to find out.  As for the sloppiness of the agent, I wouldn't hold that against a potential buyer in this market.  Finding out who the loan officer is and whether the buyer is able to close is not hard to find out.

    Posted by Tim Klingman, President (North Shore Homes, Inc. (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)) over 8 years ago

    Sloppy lowball contracts like you describe are almost a guarantee of no counter offer - sounds to me like the real estate agent needs to take a refresher course on writing contracts.

    Posted by Terry McCarley, REALTOR, SRES, CDPE - Cape Coral, FL (REMAX Realty Team - Cape Coral FL) over 8 years ago

    Maybe it is just Monday morning blues, but I'll stick my neck out on this one!


    Why does a post that states the bleeding obvious get so much praise?


    Could it be that we have become accustomed to the mediocre?


    OK! Go ahead! Start beating me up :-)



    Posted by Terry over 8 years ago

    On the flip side, I have represented a buyer whose offer was clean, concise, and above asking price.  The listing agent had the arrogance not only NOT to return my calls (although she was very pleasant prior to the offer stage), but also refused to return the last page of the purchase agreement with the rejection clause initialled by the homeseller.  She claimed I was the "only" one who had ever asked for the rejection page -  I wonder if the offer was ever actually presented to the seller.....

    Posted by Sue Follansbee (Golden Eagle Properties) over 8 years ago

    We make it a policy to counter every offer, but you are rigth if you have to redo it so that it can be an executable offer and you are that far apart it is not worth the effort. 

    Posted by Marjorie & Doug McKay, Calgary & Chestermere - 403-207-1776 (RE/MAX Real Estate Advocates) over 8 years ago


    I had an offer that's 30% lower than listing price because the buyers wanted to change the structure of the house because of their special needs - By the way, this is a very lovely house that's been completely remodeled.

    The buyers' agent was kind enough to include a short sale addendum because he figured (according to his own research) that it would become a short sale at that price.  

    That sure added insult to injury.

    I could not believe what I saw and the buyer's agent could not figure out why my clients refused to counter them back.   This is the only offer out of all the houses I sold that we did not counter. 


    Posted by Sylvia Barry, Marin and Sonoma Real Estate Leading Expert (Coldwell Banker Previews International (#1 Marin_Sonoma_San Francisco_North_Bay)) over 8 years ago

    Great points. An offer with strength and provable funding will get attention even if you do have to talk them off the ledge with a rediculously low starting offer.

    Posted by Kathryn Gorham, Emerald Isle NC Crystal Coast (Green Key Realty) over 8 years ago

    Great points. An offer with strength and provable funding will get attention even if you do have to talk them off the ledge with a rediculously low starting offer.

    Posted by Kathryn Gorham, Emerald Isle NC Crystal Coast (Green Key Realty) over 8 years ago

    Absolutely true!!!

    Posted by Denny and Denise Rockwell, Real Estate Professionals, Staging & Design (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties) over 8 years ago

    Well, I guess the selling agent's ability to present a usable purchase offer only counts if the buyer actually wants to buy the property.

    I have actually countered worse offers than this and put transactions together.

    I have completely, correctly, rewritten the purchase agreement  as a counter offer for the buyer's broker.

    Maybe not so much in this market and on a buyer's fishing expedition.

    Posted by Tom Waite, So Cal-Apartment Bldg Investments (Thomas Waite Real Estate Broker) over 8 years ago

    Randy, great post about what formerly was called "common sense" offer presentation. May be far less common today than it once was. Many great points there. Thanks.

    Posted by Pete Deininger, Breckenridge Colorado Real Estate (970-389-0372) (Breckenridge Associates) over 8 years ago

    I work a lot with Buyers and believe me, it's not always Buyers fault for bad offers. If the agent didn't educate them about the whole process, how could they know what they should or should not do and they most likely don't know how to prepare the offer and the clauses in it!

    It is always easier to blame the Buyer, but in your case, I think that the agent is one to blame!

    Posted by Matilda Nestoroska, Real Estate Broker (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Signature Service Inc.,) over 8 years ago

    Well deserved featured post and I couldn't have said it better than you did!  My hat's off to you for highlighting not only what listing agents have to "endure" from "clueless" Buyer Agents - but the poor results for the Buyers represented by them.  Buyers must work with a skilled Buyer Agent if they want appropriate representation!

    Posted by Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers, Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ (BVO Luxury Group @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty) over 8 years ago

    I've received the same type of offers from 'experienced, seasoned' agents - that have just kept their license for when 'family and friends' need them but they have not kept up.  They use  out dated offer forms and most of all have forgotten a successful real estate negotiation is pretty much win/win.

    I think we are alway going to have to deal with these 'part timers'.  It is too easy to get and keep a real estate license.  I think it should be more difficult if not at least more expense - so only those serious about our profession would keep their license active....I know, wishful thinking...

    Posted by Kimberly Brandon, Broker/Owner (Smart Moves Real Estate) over 8 years ago

    Randy, I agree with Karen's comment (#9) but I hope that all agents will read this post.  Some to learn, others for a review of why they practice their business the way they do and for a reminder of why it's probably working well for them and their clients!  Great post!  ;-)

    Posted by Kent Dills, Real Estate 817-495-8028, Bellingham, Washington (Broker, Dills Real Estate) over 8 years ago

    Sounds familiar.....I'm still going back and forth right now on one from over a week ago. They just don't get it....

    Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 8 years ago


    I feel that an offer should always have some kind of response from the sellers, at least a rejection to show that the offer was submitted by the listing agent to the seller. I think it would be risky for the listing agent to avoid getting an acknowledgement signature from the seller showing that they actually received the listing, no matter what the offer was or how clean it is written. (No response gives the impression to the buyers agent that the listing agent has a personal reason for not submitting the offer, perhaps an even lower offer from his own client?)

    Mistakes can be cleaned up in the counter, but a courtesy call to the agent asking if they would care to clean up the offer before being submitted to the seller is in order if the offer is missing anything crucial. If the offer is too low, counter full price. No need to reveal the bottom line on an unrealistic offer.

    An offer should be treated with respect, no matter what it is. If it is too low, counter with comps to show market value. If I make a low offer, I send it with comps. We are in an REO driven market, sometimes the recently sold foreclosure comps tell the real story for an offer that seems low.

    Posted by Barbara Le Pine, Your agent for the Central Oregon Coast! (Advantage Real Estate, serving Lincoln County) over 8 years ago

    Demonstrate that if they accept your offer, they will be dealing with a professional and not an idiot. You had me busting up laughing with this comment. I hope your class appreciates what you are teaching them ... could you come to California and straighten up the clowns we have here?

    Posted by Cynthia Larsen, Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA over 8 years ago

    I always have my sellers negotiate no matter how bad the offer is. You never know if the buyer is just going by the mantra, "Ya never know til ya ask" or if they are just playing around.

    Posted by Lisa Ludlow Archer (Live Love Homes-Keller Williams, Charlotte, NC Ballantyne Area ) over 8 years ago

    There are some that think if you are not negotiating, it's rude or unprofessional.   A seller is not obligated to respond just because an offer is tendered.  The options are accept, reject, counter or do nothing.  The do nothing option is one of the reasons offers have an expiration clause.  It is not at all uncommon for us to choose to not respond or to reject outright.  Usually the buyer agent will call and we will tell them to try again.  They've seen the MLS or Loopnet listing.  Hopefully they've read the agent to agent remarks.  If the offer isn't in the ballpark, a NO is the best counter.  Honestly, we're expecing the other agent to feel that THEY MUST negotiate and, more times than not, we get another offer closer to reality.

    Posted by Rich Kruse (Gryphon USA, Ltd.) over 8 years ago

    Great Post Randy. Congrats on the feature!

    Posted by John Queenan (CDPE, Nicholas H. Fingelly Real Estate) over 8 years ago

    I so appreciate your comments on appropriate contracts and negotiation. I work with a lot of short sale properties, and the buyers think they can just throw any offer at the seller as if the Bank is forced to take any offers. This is just not the case! Let us be mindful that it is also the investor behind the loan that makes the decision whether the numbers work or not.

    Because of the amount of short sales on the market,' agents must be mindful there is a right way and wrong way to present an offer, whether it is a traditional or distressed sale. Either way, let it be remembered how to correctly submit an appropriate sales contract with a pre-qualification attached and perhaps an actual attempt to a conversation about their motivated buyer. 

    Another thing that blows my mind is that after an offer is actually accepted you don't hear back from that buyers' agent unless you pick up the phone to follow up! 



    Posted by Merydith Endelman over 8 years ago

    Counter back higher than the asking price.  Then when the selling agent says the buyer was insulted your response could be "now you know how the sellers feels"

    Posted by Patty Clark, Helping Families Move with Care (Morningside Homes, LLC) over 8 years ago

    There were many great responses.  A few agents believe you should always counter.  I believe you should counter in most cases.  In the example I gave, I really believe a counter was not warranted. 

    Some of the responses referenced the percentage of the price and the market conditions.  Let me add a couple of facts to the story to give you some better background.

    1. The home was in the $500,000 range.  Making their offer about 20% below asking price.  It was priced where we expected it to appraise.
    2. The area was a seller's market, not a buyer's market.  There was about a 2 month inventory.

    There were many responses about professionalism, training and broker supervision.  That offer reflected poorly on their broker who was supposed to review the offer and the obvious lack of training the agent must have received.

    There were some great comments about communication.  I completely agree that you should always pick up the phone and speak to the other agent, explaining why their offer was rejected.

    Many folks were concerned with insulting the buyer or their agent, when they had absolutely no consideration for the seller and their feelings.  If you represent a buyer, insulting the seller or making them feel you don't know what you are doing is not a good way to open a negotiation.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    I agree 100% all offers should be presented with an effort and complete with no clarification needed. However in my opinion any offers whether they are low, messy, or incomplete deserve a reply at least from the listing agent. A 5 second email reply such as (your offer was rejected sorry) or (please don't wast our time) is sufficient and professional even if the buyers agent wasn't.


    Posted by Brett Dalbeth, Laguna Agent (iPro Real Estate) over 8 years ago

    amen, amen and amen again!  I cannot believe the crap that some agents present as an "offer" and then they wonder why their buyers are not taken seriously!  Let's act professional!!!

    Posted by Jeani Codrey, If you're not learning, you're not living! (The Learning Jeani) over 8 years ago

    Randy ~ Maybe your post should be required reading in pre-licensure classes. Come t think of it, though, it's not just newbies who pull this kind of stunt, though, as others have said in the comments.

    Posted by Liz Lockhart, GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate (Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO) over 8 years ago

    I like the Chris and Patty's suggestion to counter at above asking.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    I always try to get me seller's to counter (it's a statement about the market, not a statement about their home), but sometimes they just can't bring themselves to do so. 

    I had a situation similar to yours a while back and the owner said not only would he not respond, I was not to present another offer from that buyer.  When I tried to explain it to the selling agent, she was just floored.  "But it's their dream home."  Really? They should have acted that way.

    Posted by Gayle Barton, Forsyth County Real Estate, Cumming GA Homes For Sale (404) 710-0204 (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY Georgia Properties) over 8 years ago

    Sad but true.  Too often an agent will submit anything to a seller with no real hope of getting a deal done and only insults the seller and their agent.  Poor offers, badly documented, go no where.  There was no real offer but I would have asked the selling agent to clean it up, send necessary documentation, or just go away.  Give me something to present not just paper.


    Posted by Ric Mills, Integrity, Honesty, and Vast Real Estate Knowledge (Keller Williams Southern Az) over 8 years ago

    I agree that the offer should be written properly with proof of funds etc. however sometimes the buyers just have a lazy or inexperienced agent. If we are not dealing with other offers on the property at the moment I encourage my seller to counter ALL offers. I just craft a counter that requires proof of funds, loan approval etc. Before we open escrow.

    Posted by Dennis & Terri Neal, Your Home Sold in 45 Days or We Se (RE/MAX, Big Bear) over 8 years ago

    Spot on commentary.

    Buyer's today have a hard time recognizing and accepting that the discount is reflected in today's pricing. Depending on the market, most properties listed are 35-50% off from what they were at the peak. Buyers think that they are going to get the deals (rather steals) that they heard about in the 90's recession. But what they fail to realize is that level of transparency is much higher today than it was in the last recession. For instance, the internet was barely coming online and less than 10% of the population had access to it. Today all professionals are online and seeing what is happening with real estate in their market at a moments notice.  The speed that information travels helps keep the housing market priced accurately, sort of like the stock market, but not nearly as efficient.  So if consumers and some agents could realize this it would make the offer and acceptance process much easier.

    Posted by Raoul Amescua (Hanover Properties) over 8 years ago

    Hallelujah Brother... Well said...About time someone said it the way it is.

    I just received a call from a buyers agent upset that a property closed for much less then her client's cash offer. I explained that it was a Fannie Mae sale. I reminded her that in the MLS it was documented that a cash buyer must bring 10% EMD, her buyer offered $1000 on a $152,000 purchase (not too close to 10% if I do the math right)...

    I had 14 offers and only ones that met the Sellers requirements did the seller even look at as serious. The funny part is I always send a reply to agents that I received the offer and reminding them of any seller requirements to give them a chance to fix the problems. On a Fannie Mae sale that happens twice because there is a multiple offer form that has to be signed and I respond to that too the same way.

    This agent had THREE CHANCES to get it right and still failed, then it is my fault the seller rejected the offer???


    Posted by Richard Foster, Broker Owner, BS, ABR/M, CREN, CRS, GRI, RRG, SFR (Nevada Perfect Homes) over 8 years ago

    I also like the idea of countering higher...if there's no assurance of financing, earnest money, terms, etc...you can always explain (perhaps via a cover letter to show how a low offer should've been made)  explaining why the price needs to be higher for the seller to feel comfortable taking the home off the market for this particular offer :)


    Apart from the price of the offer you received...don't you just sorta love it when offers are written the way you described? You get to set all of the terms to benefit & protect your clients.

    Posted by Ryan Halset, Realtor | (206) 930-7959 (Boardwalk Real Estate) over 8 years ago

    Based on your criteria which I consistenly adhere to, I beat out an all cash offer on an income property for my buyer. The all cash was only $10k less on a $420k property. The seller's agent convinced the seller to go with our offer because of the professional manner I constructed the offer and all related documentation, so the agent felt it would be a smooth transaction (it was).

    I have refused to send in offers that were ridiculously low, 30%-60% below asking price. I always ask my buyer to put themselves in the seller's shoes and ask yourself why would they sell it way below market? I also tell the buyer that the seller and their agent did a CMA and they know what it's worth. They certainly not going to give it away.

    Sometimes they say that it's all cash, so they deserve a 40% discount. I tell the buyer that the seller receives all cash from anyone buying the home. Some of it may come from you, some from the lender, but at COE it's always all cash. The only benefit of an all cash offer is there's no risk of a loan rejection and shorter COE, but that's not worth 40% off the sale price.

    Posted by Peter Rozsa (Cupertino, CA) over 8 years ago

    Randy - Very well spoken and timely I might add.  As weekly I receive an offer on a new listing from the same agent and I have asked that she stop writing incomplete offers.  I do my best to give the buyer's agent everything they need to present a complete offer.  The cover of my Disclosures Packet is a letter labeled, "What you must know before presenting your offer" and still they miss the mark.

    My next counter, I will counter her offer with a copy of you blog and see if that works.  It will surely make me feel better.

    Get the skills necessary to service the consumer and lead your market!


    Great Blog and responses.....

    Posted by Frank Godfrey, Realtor, e-PRO, ALC - Hamberger Associa Broker NY Real Estate (Keller Williams Preferred Properties) over 8 years ago

    It is nice when you get a clean full price offer with all of the required disclosures, addendums, etc with terms agreeable to all parties.  Then the alarm clock goes off and you realize you were dreaming.

    $100,000 less than the asking price seems like a big difference unless you have a $1mil listing.   No one would think twice about countering a $90k offer for a $100k listing.  Ever hear the phrase "if your first offer gets accepted you offered too much"?

    The listing agent here should have clarified any ambiguous details and demanded a pre-qual letter from the buyers agent.  Isn't that what sellers expect from us? As the listing agent representing this seller I would have also asked the buyers agent to provide me the comps used to prepare the offer to help me convince the seller that this is a good offer.  What, you don't have any?  Want to use mine?  Probably not because mine would support the lsit price.

    Bottom line is that in a co-brokered situation both agents need to work together to prepare a clean offer.  It is then up to the buyer and seller to agree on price and terms.

    Posted by Lucien Vaillancourt, Jacksonville Florida Real Estate (Native Sun Realty, Inc.) over 8 years ago

    Sometimes the buyers just have an inexperienced or lazy agent. I would write a strong counter offer and guide them on what we would require before opening escrow. Make sure they are truly qualified using your own lendre if you are not sure. In this market when you have only one offer it is no time to turn your nose up at it.

    Posted by Dennis & Terri Neal, Your Home Sold in 45 Days or We Se (RE/MAX, Big Bear) over 8 years ago

    From one Randy to another, I know exactly what you mean.  I've had a few similar situations and was amazed at how unprofessional those agents and their offers were. 

    Posted by Randy Elliott, REALTOR : Lodi / Stockton, CA (RE/MAX Gold) over 8 years ago

    I try to respond to everything, even if it is a rejection.  However, this is something I could see ignoring.

    Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 8 years ago

    Excellent post and it should be read by all new agents.  I had a similar offer on one of my listings (the price was a heck of a lot closer) but there were soooooo many mistakes, we were forced to counter to correct all the errors.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this post.

    Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) over 8 years ago

    It seems that a large portion of the most recent responses said they would counter.  I completely disagree in this case.

    Just some food for thought.  Why should an unprofessional agent change, if everyone is willing to write contracts for them?  Also who is one representing the buyer if you rewrite their entire offer?  It would not be a fun court case if this ever took a bad turn.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    Do some agents really work that hard at looking unprofessional? I often wonder how the buyers feel putting their name on sloppy paperwork. Perception is reality.

    Posted by Lynn M. Bower, PA, ABR, GRI, RSPS, AHWD, PMN, CNE (John R Wood Realtors) over 8 years ago

    #2 is my favorite - don't be an idiot. I wonder what ever happened to the buyers agent making the buyers offer as strong as possible? Did that go away somewhere over the years? Mr Seller, take your home off the market for me, here are the numbers & my financing.  Now, it's just about price I guess and written in crayon.

    Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 8 years ago

    When I recieve an offer like this I read it to my cients over the phone. I will get their thoughts and if there is anything to work with I will prewrite the counter offer before meeting with the sellers, Please note many of my sellers are not local ranging from 30 to 3000 miles away, Many of them do not own computers or fax machines. There is an age group that lived their whole life without these and still does see the value in them. The good news is most have heard of those new fangled fax machines, LOL

    Posted by Roger DiRuscio, Roger DiRuscio ( Realty Experts) over 8 years ago

    What a great blog to get discussion going.  Personally, I think it's a shame that a Seller won't at least counter at full price.  I've seen these scenarios where the buyers say YES immediately to a full price counter.  I would have made the changes necessary, even those that made it not a contract, and send it back.  Either that, or write a new offer and send it over the buyers.  Hey, they want to buy it, so here are the terms.  I advise my sellers to NEVER reject an offer.

    Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 8 years ago

    I keep thinking that the tough market will weed out the incompetent agents... but it is beginning to look like that was wishful thinking.

    Unfortunately, there are still plenty of idiots walking around with real estate licenses.

    Oh well... if everything always went smoothly, you'd get bored, right?

    Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 8 years ago

    Randy - I appreciate your last comment, but as a listing agent I'm more concerned about selling a property for my client than I am about educating another agent.  In my opinion, unless you have multiple offers, then just write the counter and see if you can find a meeting of the minds of the principals!

    Posted by Jack Mossman - The Nines Team at Keller Williams in Stockton, The Nines Team at Keller Williams in Stockton (The Nines Team At Keller Williams) over 8 years ago

    I've seen more ridiculous offers lately from buyers who think that they hold ALL the cards.  I've even had agents apologize to me before they present the offer, saying this is what the buyer wants to offer.  Messy contracts are a waste of time for everyone.  The agent as a professional needs to make her buyer aware of that.


    Posted by Linda Jandura, Realtor, North Carolina Buyer & Seller Specialist (Raleigh Cary Realty) over 8 years ago

    I've seen more ridiculous offers lately from buyers who think that they hold ALL the cards.  I've even had agents apologize to me before they present the offer, saying this is what the buyer wants to offer.  Messy contracts are a waste of time for everyone.  The agent as a professional needs to make her buyer aware of that.


    Posted by Linda Jandura, Realtor, North Carolina Buyer & Seller Specialist (Raleigh Cary Realty) over 8 years ago

    AMEN!  - good post.  There is certainly value in professionalism!

    Posted by Linda Breeden (Century 21 Weinert Realty) over 8 years ago

    AMEN!  - good post.  There is certainly value in professionalism!

    Posted by Linda Breeden (Century 21 Weinert Realty) over 8 years ago

    No truer words have been spoken, Randy.  Good post

    Posted by Roger Johnson, Realtor - Hickory NC Real Estate (Hickory Real Estate Group) over 8 years ago

    Unbelievable...and he actually thought he'd get a counter-offer. 

    Posted by Denise Dimares over 8 years ago

    And we still have so many buyers, and their agents, convinced that the market is so bad that "anything goes". Nice blog.

    Posted by Melanie McLane (The Melanie Group) over 8 years ago

    Frivolous offer. We as agents that have been in the business a long time have seen a ton of these. However: as professional’s. We should submit any and all offers and let our clients determine if the offer is considered frivolous. If this is determined by the Client (s) it is up to them to counter or reject. In doing so they would decide to explain why they did not counter. I would advise not to respond. Before I take a listing I do an excessive listing presentation explaining this to them before it happens. My listings are prices to sell and if low ball offers come in, I present and advise my clients to hold out for the right offer. Professionalism! Great Post.  

    Posted by Mike Folgheraiter over 8 years ago

    You must be dealing with some very unprofessional agents in your area.  Perhaps we are lucky here in Naples - whilst I have received many "low ball" offers, they usually do come on the Naples Board of REALTORS® contract which most people fill our properly.

    Posted by Christine R. Sutherland, REALTOR - CIPS, TRC, e-Pro (Downing-Frye Realty, Inc - the best in SW Florida) over 8 years ago

    I am preparing a 2nd blog post based on feedback from this post.  Many agents believe the seller should have countered.  We will look at that argument a little deeper on the next post.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    Why would you want to tip your hat as to what your bottom line was when you have such a low offer with so many questions?  Interesting post and excellent points.  We've seen these offers before and it's nice to know we're not alone.

    Posted by Derrick Guevremont, Rochester MN Homes for Sale (Counselor Realty of Rochester) over 8 years ago

    D & S - Excellent point, why tip your hat to someone who is fishing.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    There are so many variables that make every situation unique. However, one should always consider the source!

    Posted by Dimitri Matsis-REALTOR® (818) 599-6083 (Troop Real Estate Inc. Westlake Village CA) over 8 years ago

    Sounds like a very extreme case of a poorly presented offer - but generally, I believe every offer should be countered. If the agent was that sloppy, maybe the price was mistakenly entered.

    Posted by Diane Schubach (Laffey Fine Homes) over 8 years ago

    Sounds like a very extreme case of a poorly presented offer - but generally, I believe every offer should be countered. If the agent was that sloppy, maybe the price was mistakenly entered.

    Posted by Diane Schubach (Laffey Fine Homes) over 8 years ago

    This post is timely and helpful to me. I'm about to write a "crazy" offer on a property. I did put a call in to the listing agent so that he knows we are serious though because what will look like a crazy offer on the surface is really a well-thought out plan by the buyer. I did explain to my buyer that we may have some work to do to show the seller that we are serious. In all honesty, this will be a blog post if it gets accepted.

    Posted by Crystal Pina, Remax Professional Associates (774.289.5521) over 8 years ago

    Randy, I find this so true!!!  Well said.

    Posted by DeeDee Riley, Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas (Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA) over 8 years ago

    It's getting so crazy out there.  With everyone looking to sue the other, dotting i's and crossing t's are a must.  Great post...

    Posted by Carol Tunis, Carol Tunis...a "HouseSold" name! (Florida Homes Realty & Mortgage) over 8 years ago

    It's getting so crazy out there.  With everyone looking to sue the other, dotting i's and crossing t's are a must.  Great post...

    Posted by Carol Tunis, Carol Tunis...a "HouseSold" name! (Florida Homes Realty & Mortgage) over 8 years ago

    Basic Contract writing 101...Extremely well written and to the point. Nobody wants to waste time with an amateur. A strong, solid, professionally written and presented offer is the only thing good enough for your seller. Great blog!

    Posted by RhondaHeaslip NanaimoRealEstate (RE/MAX of Nanaimo) over 8 years ago

    Obviously, you hit a chord with this topic Randy.  We all know it's the quality of both the buyer and the "other

    agent" that matters when we are presenting and negotiating offers.  If you are going to be in business, do it right.  The paperwork is a clear indication of how one does his job all the way through the transaction (imo).

    Posted by Sandy Streit over 8 years ago

    It does sound like I hit a chord.  In this environment, agents who present offers in that condition are a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    I just went through a very similar situation... such a poorly written offer, not protecting the buyer and an agent who didn't listen when I gave him key info - "You're $20K under asking and we're getting multiple offers". He gave us a short 3 hour, late night irrevocable on a Sunday and then asked for a call once I presented his offer so he could have an opportunity to improve his offer - via fax - which I'd already explained my client did not have at her home. "This is your opportunity to write your best offer - I expect her to make a decision tonight." I told him that he and his client were welcome to present in person or be in the driveway - which he scoffed at and passed on. In the end, she chose the other offer and while the "winning" agent and I were driving all over town at 1145pm Sunday night to get the paperwork handled, the "losing" agent called me 4 times to yell at me (and my voicemail). 

    What's sad is that he saw no responsibility for his choices and his actions (or lack thereof). At one point he said, angry with me, "My client is mad at me!" to which I replied, "I'm very sorry for your client, this is a lovely condo." I am sorry for his client... and for our profession... that level of (dis)service is what generates people who don't want to use a REALTOR in the future.

    Posted by Anneke over 8 years ago

    Anneke - It sounds like a game show and the buyer's agent needs to buy a clue.  It is times like that, I wish I could pick up the phone and call their client.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    I'm late to the game but this sure is timely as the last two offers I received on a popular listing I have were incomplete.  My seller couldn't accept either contract since each buyer's agent needed to make corrections and get necessary buyer initials.

    I am truly surprised at how lacksadaisical these agents were.  It wasn't just one missing set of initials, there were multiple problems that needed to be corrected on each contract. 

    Even in this kind of market, if bidding against other buyers a contract not properly filled out could lose a buyer's ability to purchase the home they wanted.  At the least, as time goes on waiting for the contract to be filled out correctly, another buyer could come along that wasn't there before.  I have not seen such sloppiness in the past, so I just don't get it.

    Posted by Judy Orr, SW & Near West Chicago suburbs (HomeSmart Realty Group) over 8 years ago

    Judy - I don't get it either.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    Randy, I think you have heard it a few times but I think you need to hear it again, if you don't counter and at least try to build a common ground your letting the seller down. You just don't know the buyers motivation. With all the media saying bid considerably less, that's what the buyer thinks is best. Hey it's on TV and every news outlet in the country! it's got to be correct?

    That buyer may have been the highest paying buyer out there with just a little encouragement from a professional agent on either side. After all that buyer contacted an agent looked at homes took the time to put an offer together, he's going to buy a home from somebody. 

    As for the little effort by the buyers agent he's probably like you and only wants to work for the no hassle buyers. 

    We are paid for our expertise in putting the deal together and need to use all the tools in our tool box to get the job done. A mild we want to work with you counter offer goes a long way to building a good reputation with the seller even if it doesn't work out.

    Posted by Dennis over 8 years ago

    Great stuff! The fewer changes you make on an offer, the cleaner and more professional it will look. It MUST be legible.

    Betty Bart

    Fine Homes in 905

    Posted by Betty Bartusevicius, Fine Homes In 905 (Re/Max Realty Specialists Inc., Brokerage) over 8 years ago

    Dennis - I am not sure if I mentioned, the home got an accepted offer a couple of days later.  The next offer that came in was a nice clean contract with a pre-approved buyer, represented by a professional agent.

    Betty - I agree completely.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    The point about making other conditions of the offer attractive is very important.  In our market  (strong buyers market) we almost never submit an offer that will not be countered.  If the rest of the offer is clean and reasonable the buyer has a much better chance of getting a counter closer to their price.  Good points Randy.

    Posted by Scott Greeson over 8 years ago

    I have spent the last 6 weeks writing ridiculous offers for buyers.  Alll had proof of funds, and an earnest money deposit.  As you all know, none of the offers have been accepted.

    In fact, the properties are all under contract with other buyers.

    My buyers are all looking to "steal" a property and are blind to the fact that half price of below market will not work, even for a foreclosure.

    Oh well, tomorrow is another day...

    Posted by Karen Steed, Associate Broker Haralson Realty (Tallapoosa, Bremen, Waco, Buchanan, Temple, Carrollton) over 8 years ago

    Scott - The area this home was in, was definitely a seller's market.  Even more important to get in clean contracts.

    Karen - I have not had any buyers that were as extreme.  You would think they would figure it out after a couple of failures.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    Within the past couple of months, I've had 2 offers come in with blank fields.  Of course, I'm not going to leave anything blank so, you're correct, there would have to be a counter-offer.  An agent would be doing his/her buyer an injustice by leaving blanks because they're eliminating the opportunity for a seller to accept an offer, as is.  That's not very good representation.

    A week and a half ago I received an offer with a contingency upon the closing of the buyer's home (with blanks).  Supposedly they had a contract on their home.  I requested a copy of the contract and advised my sellers to wait to counter until we knew what the terms of the buyer's contract were.  I haven't received anything yet.  The agent said that the buyer and his buyer had a verbal agreement.  Need I say more?

    Posted by Alyse "Aly" Sands (Village Real Estate Services) over 8 years ago

    Dear Randy,

    Nowadays, many buyers want to make really low offers. I tell them to better have all their ducks in a row on everything but price. As several people mentioned, an offer of $100k less would only be warranted, if you were totally off base on price, which happens once in a while, but I could not imagine would be the case with you.

    Posted by Dörte Engel, ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland (RE/MAX Leading Edge) over 8 years ago

    Alyse - I have seen similar happen repeatedly.  That is why we need to be diligent in asking for all documents.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    Great post and a great reminder of how we're supposed to work.

    Posted by Nicole Fleming (FC Tucker Emge) over 8 years ago

    Dorte' - It must be a regional thing.  I can't imagine firing a price that far off the mark on a home that is correctly priced.  If the home is priced that far off, you have to wonder what the seller and their agent were seeing.  I would not accept such a listing.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    Nicole - Thank you.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    Hello Randy,

    No matter what the buyers offer looks like it is a step above all the lookers that didn't even bother offering. While the buyers agent may not have given a proper and complete offer, acceptable on price or not, at least one was submitted. While we cannot control the actions of our competing agents ( I almost said peers, but it seems clear that by this offer you don't think this agent qualifys) we are still bound by our relationship with the seller to get their property sold, we are cutting our noses off to spite our face, in a way, if we don't at least try to get a dialog going to reach an agreement. Again realize that I'm not saying that we have to make excuses or apoligize for the offer, but if we don't get the client to counter.... even if its a full price counter, the transaction is as good as dead. If we were still in a sellers market, and you may be where you are, we could frivoulsly pass and wait for the next one, but in many parts of the countre every offer needs to be followed through on until there cannot be an agreement or further negotiation.


    just my thoughts and ramblings, and by no means am I suggesting that agents should be allowed to get away with less than adequate contracts, just that we do have the opportunity to correct and respond to them.

    Posted by Joe Daniels, Broker, Appraiser, Realtor(R), (Personal Service Realty) over 8 years ago

    Joe - Thank you for your thoughts.  I will be posting a follow-up post.  I hope you stop by and add your input.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    You said it best. In a nutshell, buyer agents need to remember the basics when presenting an offer.

    Posted by Bill Snuggs (ERA Strother Real Estate) over 8 years ago

    This rings so true with me.  It's hard to believe that in this day an age, where the Orlando MLS provides free access to online forms and the ability to fill them in online, that there are still agents using old forms, hand written and incomplete.  To add to the scenario above, having a properly written offer also makes a difference when in a multiple offer situation.  I am sure many of us here have probably picked a slightly lower offer over another simply because the buyers agent presented a better offer that was more than just price.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by David Dorman over 8 years ago

    You're right on the money about how it works. Making a clear and convincing case is crucial to meeting of the minds.

    Posted by Nick Tukmanian (RealWorks Residential) over 8 years ago

    Hey Randy, Very tru and insightful post. I am working with ANYTHING and try to put some deals on the board. It is not a bowl of sugar out there but if you can check your ego at the door you still can make some deals...

    Posted by David Evans, HUD NLB Cumming GA (RE/MAX TOWN AND COUNTRY) over 8 years ago

    It's our policy that we do not submit offers without the pre-approval or proof of funds.  Without them I have not idea if the buyer can actually go thru with the sale.  I recently had an agent from another office in our area, make an offer on one my listings that was $60,000 less than the asking price.  The agent got very angry when my Sellers countered with their original price.  I explained to the agent that my sellers were offended by the offer and felt that they were not serious.  That if his buyers were serious about purchasing the home, they needed to make an offer that was higher and include the pre-approval letter.  I did get another offer, but was still too low to make the deal work.

    Posted by Virginia (Ginger) Schott, Assoc. Broker, CBR, CHMS (Century 21 Geba Realty Assoc.) over 8 years ago

    What a wonderful post. I totally agree on all points! It is crucial that you have a complete contract every time.

    Posted by Towanda Lahor over 8 years ago

    So many agents do not feel it is important to get an executable contract in play.  I guess they keep the lawyers in business.

    In Virginia's case, the buyers and their agent were not concerned about offending the seller, why should they offended?

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago


    There were so many things wrong as you pointed out.  How can the buyer's agent even conceive that his client is serious?  Great post!!!

    Posted by Eugene Adan, Carlsbad Real Estate (Adan Properties, Carlsbad, CA (760) 720-9710) over 8 years ago

    Eugene - They either don't care or they are clueless.  Either way an agent who conducts themselves in that manner should really consider another line of work.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    Randy, I agree with you completely, in that the buyer's agent and the buyers should have done a much better job, but allow me to play devil's advocate for a moment.

    I had an offer come in about a month ago on one of my listings, which was exactly as you stated above. Incomplete offer form (couldn't have been accepted even if the seller wanted to), lowball pricing, no approval letter, etc.

    I advise all of my sellers before we even list that they will be expected to counteroffer every offer that comes in, even if they counter at full price. So, my seller counteroffered and I explained to the buyer's agent what was expected of her and her client to provide before we could move forward. After several back & forth counteroffers, we now have the house under contract with this buyer (fully ratified contract, with all of the shortcomings of the original offer overcome) at 98% of the original list price.

    This is just one example of many such occurrences. If i had let my seller take offense to the lowball offer, and let myself be offended by the unprofessionalism of the buyer's agent, this home would likely still be sitting there in a very difficult market.

    Yes, it's the buyer's agent's responsibility to make sure that their buyer is in the best position possible when making an offer, but unfortunately, many of them don't get that, and their clients often don't know any better.

    I believe that it's our job as the listing agent to help our sellers remove the emotion, and do everything possible to bring a sale together, even if it means babysitting an unprofessional buyer's agent. It's more work for us, of course, but personally, I'll take the sale over digging in my heels and being right (not easy for me; i always want to be right).

    I'll also add that it's absurd for any agent to think that they're owed a counteroffer or an explanation of any kind. It's not required, but as a courtesy, should be common practice.

    Posted by Ryan Hukill - Edmond, Realtor, Team Lead (ShowMeOKC Real Estate Pros of KW Elite) over 8 years ago

    I got an offer today that is $100K below the asking price. The offer was well written and included proof of funds and preapproval. It's just so far from what my clients will consider that I don't think I could PAY them to counter it!

    Posted by Jenny Durling, For Los Angeles real estate help 213-215-4758 (L.A. Property Solutions) over 8 years ago

    Ryan - I have had more than one experience where we rejected to have them come back with a fresh offer.  I believe to take a position that you always counter, weakens your client's hand.  Automatic counters encourage fishing.  Yes I recommend a counter in most cases, but not all cases.

    I have also represented more than a couple of clients who got rejected and they still wanted the home, so we made a fresh offer.

    Jenny - I agree.  The buyer and their agent knew they were low balling when they submitted it.  If they are expecting a counter, their agent must be used to dealing with those agents who recommend countering in all cases.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    I agree with Ryan, #232, in that every offer should be countered, the key is "even if it is a full price counter", clean up the offer contract with the changes you want made, and send it back.  Most often, I never get it back again, but, like Ryan, sometimes you do.  Experience does not seem to have much to do with it.  One of my more recent offers came from an agent with over 20 years in the area, and it was one of the worst contracts I have seen.  I countered on a clean contract, typed, with sellers endorsements. 

    Posted by Garth Jones (Prudential Tropical) over 8 years ago

    Garth - I'll put you down in the group that counters everything.  If the agents in your area read this, they know to send you anything no matter how bad and wait for the response.  That way they can get the sellers to show their cards first.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    I recently had sellers who received a great offer with a few items that would have been nice to change, but it was well written and rather than risk not having a counter signed, my clients simply signed it.


    This wouldn't have been possible if the contract hadn't been written correctly.

    Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 8 years ago

    Christine - That is exactly what I teach in my contract negotiating class.  Make the offer so clean that the seller might accept a little less for fear of putting it at risk with a counter.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    It truly is amazing how often common sense and professionalism are lacking in this industry.  Negotiating and positioning are the two critically important areas where agents can truly differentiate themselves and add value.  Yet there are so many agents who believe that opening the front door to a property is their big value add in a transaction, and treat the rest of the deal as a nusiance.   

    Posted by Vito Boscaino (Parker Realty Associates) over 8 years ago

    Vito - That is so true.  Those who are the true professionals will always rise to the top.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

    Great post. How about the offer that comes in on an outdated Purchase and Sale Agreement (2009) and a counter offer on a form from 2004!

    Posted by Kelsey Barklow, 423/948-9154, Marne Drinnon 423/202-2277 (Evans & Evans Real Estate) about 8 years ago

    Kelsey and Marne - I get some that are on forms much older than that.

    Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) about 8 years ago

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