Hawaii Randy's Real Estate Opinions: Not All Realtors® Agree - Rejection vs. Counter Offer

Not All Realtors® Agree - Rejection vs. Counter Offer

In a recent Blog Post: "Did You Really Expect a Counter Offer?"  I received many responses from agents who felt the sellers should have counter offered rather than rejecting the messy, incomplete, low ball offer. 

In that case the purchase contract came in:

  1. $100,000 below asking price on a nice home that was appropriately priced. ($500,000 to $600,000 price range).
  2. The contract looked like a 3rd grader wrote it.  Missing signatures and initials, missing addendums, no pre-approval letter, no cover letter and errors on almost every page.
  3. Where their broker was supposed to sign they reviewed it, it was marked reviewed by phone.

I disagreed with countering in this case.  A majority of the agents agreed with my assessment.  There were also a large number of agents who felt the sellers should have countered, even in this extreme case.  Based on their feedback, I decided we should look at that a little closer at this.

I thought I would toss out a few questions to the group and start the conversation.  Please be warned my blog site is titled "Hawaii Randy's Real Estate Opinions."  I will also express opinions later on, so please read the comments.

Here are a few questions I am tossing out to the group for discussion.

  1. By countering in all cases, are you not encouraging bad behavior from other agents and buyers?
  2. If you rewrite the entire contract for the buyer's agent, aren't you doing their job?  Who is representing the buyer?
  3. Are you taking on additional liability by writing the buyer's offer for their agent?
  4. What will escrow be like on the other side of that agent?
  5. When you are miles apart, what kind of counter would be productive and effective?
  6. How far should you go with a buyer, who has not shown they have the ability to buy this property?

I look forward to reading feedback from our real estate community.



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 31 commentsRandy Prothero • November 16 2010 02:43AM


I wanted to respond to your post earlier and in fact was going to write a post about it on my own blog.

I've been selling real estate for 35 years and I always encourage a counter offer.  I've had offers come in $100,000 less than list price where we countered and never thought the transaction would get to closing but they did.

It's not my job to write or rewrite the buyer's offer, it's not my job to represent the buyers or recommend what they should do, but it is my job to protect my sellers and by countering a poorly written offer I am protecting my seller and have done so a zillion times. 

I feel we need to be professionals and give the sellers options to decide on their own, but I always recommend as an option to counter.

I don't feel it is encouraging poor behavior, in fact I feel it is doing the opposite and encourging good behavior by writing a counter to make sure nothing is left undone and that everything is correct - thereby protecting my sellers.

How did you know they didn't have the ability to pay?  Was their a letter with the offer, a pre-approval with the offer, did you call their lender to find out how or if they qualified?

In this real estate market, a seller cannot afford the luxury to not even counter and hold on to a buyer.  The buyer made an offer which tells me they have interest at some point.  My job is to get the two - the buyer and seller - together.

Your post had me scratching my head.  I would hope we are in the business of protecting our clients and getting them the best transaction we can.

By the response from our real estate community, I think you struck a nerve and I wish you well on this transaction.


Posted by Betty Jung almost 8 years ago

Betty - The home was priced correctly and received a strong, clean offer two days later.  It closed with no complications.

What kind of counter would you have made?  $100,000 apart on an appropriately priced home.  A contract that would have to be completely re-written, and no pre-approval letter.  Absolutely no hint the buyer's were serious or qualified.

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

In my MLS comments I request buyers provide a lender's pre-approval letter and proof of funds.

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) almost 8 years ago

Not a big fan of rejecting any offer but $100K off is quite a gap. Poorly written or missing info is just laziness. Maybe reject with a comment that any resonable, complete, well written offer will be considered.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) almost 8 years ago

Randy, I'm with you on this one.  Most of the time I like to recommend a counter, but sometimes you can tell it will be a waste of time.

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

In the case of a written offer with serious defects in execution, I would send it back and ask them to "Kindly complete the form". 

Some agents are just plain sloppy.  I am of the opinion that the seller is put at risk when their agent is trying to process a transaction with defective paperwork.  This is a legally and binding contract, not a "draft". 

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

As long as we don't have to rewrite the whole offer I will be happy to encourage the seller counter it.  In the instance I responded to Sally's post - the offer was in the same price range and $100K low - just like you mentioned in your example.

A buyer may be scratching their head why they didn't get a response but when they are responded to they may realize it is time to move on when their agent can't write an offer because they get a counter that looks like this:

  1. Price Shall be $600,000
  2. Buyer Must Submit Pre-Approval Letter or Proof of Funds
  3. Buyer Must Initial Page 11
  4. Agent Must Sign EMD Receipt and Submit Copy of EMD Check

Took me a couple minutes to write that (and those are the common mistakes)!

Posted by Renée Donohue, Las Vegas Real Estate Broker - www.urLVhome.com (Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate) almost 8 years ago

Randy - you have certainly touched a ot of opinions, but what a good discussion. Clearly this issue is one we all confront at various times. I normally encourage a counter, and always look for one coming back to my buyers when on that side of the fence. I have been surprised at what can happen. Some recent sellers countered one offer where we had to ask for several corrections and clarifications. It was annoying but did not take long to do.

I would have asked to agent to resubmit a complete offer so it could be responded to appropriately.


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

Great topic.  I have judiciously advised certain sellers to ignore ridiculous offers.  Sometimes the best defense to a sloppy, unqualified offer is no response.  All the reasons you gave in your original post are very pertinent.  The buyer and their agent need to show professionalism and be realistic.  There is nothing wrong with offering below asking price, but there needs to be serious deposit monies and clear qualifications of the ability  to close.  Without those you have no offer.  And a weak offer deserves no counter.

Posted by Christopher almost 8 years ago


All of the red flags were there. I think though we must be cautious to advise our client, offering our oppinions about the substance and lack of proffessionalizm by the agent, but be careful to allow them to make the decision to counter or not. Our job isn't to make those decisions and if we do help the idiot selling agent by rewriting the offer, but by doing so it is in our seller's best interest that is exactly what we are supposed to do. We can't use Purchase and Sale agreements to teach lessons to agents or buyers. We need to treat everyone with the importance it deserves. You never know the buyer could be fantastic and getting poor advice from the idiot agent. 


Posted by BarbC almost 8 years ago

Countering every offer may not be inthe interest of the selller.   There are times when the offer comes in that you take and run. 

In NO WAY would I re-write the offer for an agent.   I may sit and talk them through it, but I won't do their work.  In that case, the Broker will also get  a call as to the ineptness of the agent!

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) almost 8 years ago

A thought that comes to mind for those who say always counter under all conditions.

Once other agents in the area figure that out; why would anyone ever send you a solid offer? I would love to play poker with you.

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

Randy- I've been in similar situations, and at times have countered, and at times have not (on behalf of my clients, of course).  There are so many variables, that it's impossible to live by the "thou shalt always counter" mantra we hear time and time again.  In your shoes, I would have done the same.


Posted by Marcie Sandalow, Bethesda Chevy Chase DC real estate (Marcie Sandalow, Compass 301.758.4894 ) almost 8 years ago

I'm with you!  Not worth your time when they are that far apart or that ill prepared.

If they called to ask, I would be kind and advise them that they need to do a better job of presenting if they want a respectable response.  '

Most of the time I think a counter is warranted.  If they insisted in this case then we would counter at full price since unreasonable seems to warrant the same. Joy

Posted by Joy Carter & Jeff Booker Brother and Sister Team, Trust Your Family's Move To Our Expertise! (Keller Williams Parkland/Coral Springs Realty-GreatFloridaHomes Team) almost 8 years ago

Marcie - I think thou shalt always counter is a terrible policy.

Joy - Possibly a short hand written note would work.  Since they didn't send an executable contract to us. 

OK, I was only kidding.  I know that joke will get me some long responses.

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

Randy, Great topic!

Things in this situation lead me to beleive you acted correctly and with your clients approval i'm sure. I would have definately made a call to the agent requesting to have him clean up the offer so as to be presentable. luckily the property sold in an acceptable time frame. As for handwriting, have you ever seen Warren Buffets handwriting? lol I try and use the computer myself as much as possible.

Posted by P.J. Virgilio Jr., Realtor 408-568-6578 Selling homes in the Greater San Jose area and South through San Martin, Gilroy, San Juan Bautista and Hollister as well! (Keller Williams Realty Silicon Valley) almost 8 years ago

Hi Randy,

Thank you for this.  Recently I have received offers like this.  As we all know sellers don't even have to respond.  Well, mine didn't so the buyers agent went to my seller direct pleading his case for his buyers.  I have spent the better part of a week now putting out fires on both ends of the stick.  I would have rather been spending my quality time working on selling the property for value, but the buyer just doesn't get it and the agent sent counter directly to seller (again) without even sending a cc email to our office.  Subsequently buyer and agent met with my broker and same result.  A lot of wasted time and paper not to put a deal together.  Along with catering to an unethical agent.

May I reference your link here and previous link in my website?  It says everything I have wanted to say this past week.



Posted by Brenda Singletary-The Housing Connection almost 8 years ago

Brenda - It is time to have that agent's broker in the meeting with your broker.  I would caution them that the complaint packet to professional standards is next.

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

Thanks Randy,

My broker is still fuming and when this is has had time, he will do what he needs to.  In the mean time the agent is repeatedly calling my cell wanting an answer right now to their counter.  Still, really.  They must not have a lot going on.  It's not like this is a million dollar property and being $60K off is still huge.  I'm sure since I haven't received another response he will go to my seller again. I am hoping I receive a reject soon so this game stops.

I so agree that no all offers should be countered.  And your post was great.

Thank you again.


Posted by Brenda Singeltary, Realtor (The Housing Connection) almost 8 years ago

Aloha Brenda - I always give an answer on all offers and counters presented to me.  Sometimes the answer is it was rejected.

From your description, this would be a violation of Article 16-13 from our code of ethics.  You did the right thing and got your broker involved.

• Standard of Practice 16-13


All dealings concerning property exclusively listed, or with buyer/tenants who are subject to an exclusive agreement shall be carried on with the client's representative or broker, and not with the client, except with the consent of the client's representative or broker or except where such dealings are initiated by the client.

Before providing substantive services (such as writing a purchase offer or presenting a CMA) to prospects, REALTORS® shall ask prospects whether they are a party to any exclusive representation agreement. REALTORS® shall not knowingly provide substantive services concerning a prospective transaction to prospects who are parties to exclusive representation agreements, except with the consent of the prospects' exclusive representatives or at the direction of prospects.

(Adopted 1/93, Amended 1/04) 

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

Agree whole heartedly with post #7 . . . in this type of a market, spending the extra ten minutes, or even 30 minutes if needed, is a necessary thing to do for sellers in this market.  Many of your points are valid, but remember this is a big time buyer's market . . . perhaps not so far different from the way sellers treated buyers and their agents not too long ago, say 2005?

Posted by Pete Neuville (Realty Executives) almost 8 years ago

Pete - It is not true this is a big time buyer's market in many areas.  It is a seller's market in the neighborhood that started this discussion.

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

Without all of the information available in the original post/offer it's hard to weigh in on who is right in the offer/blog post :)

$100K can be a 50% difference, or 5%.  The house is "appropriately priced"...only according to the buyer/agent who did sell it 3 days later - or other market factors like "this is a strong/balanced market and this was a week-old listing when homes sell within 30 days."  Calling the other agent a "3rd grader" is a sniping petty comment - because my 3rd grader couldn't fill out a contract at all except for the names. 

Of actual importance - as long as the Listing Agent spelled out for the Seller the pros and cons:

*con: can this agent and this buyer perform?

*pro: holy cow, we may be able to take advantage of them the entire time 

and "proper" protections - like a larger than normal deposit - are involved, then the Seller makes the choice.

Thankfully in this case, the Seller and his agent were able to get a great offer that closed, just 2-3 days later.

Posted by Bo Bromhal, Triangle Native, 2 decades of experience (Fonville Morisey) almost 8 years ago

Bo - I never called the other agent a 3rd grader.  I said the contract looked like it was written by a 3rd grader. 

Also the price range was indicated.  An appropriately priced home in the $500,000 to $600,000 range.  I did not put exacts as to not identify the actual transaction.

There is also a link to the original article.

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

With just 36 days left in 2010, Zoey the Cool Cat and I just wanted to stop by and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Hope it’s a great one, with lots of fun and food with family and friends!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Not a real person almost 8 years ago

We are tasked with presenting all offers to our sellers.  They will be the ones in the end that decide to sell or not.  It is appropriate, I believe, to point out the deficiencies of an offer and explain their options.  On a property with several buyers in the hunt a deficient offer will quickly lose its standing.   

Posted by Robert Courtney, Century 21 All Islands, RA, CDPE, MCRE, CIAS almost 8 years ago

Bob  - That is true.

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

Regardless, I always try and get my sellers to counter. I have fond that sellers that do not counter seem to have a hard time taking their emotions out of the transaction. No harm ever done in countering. I have as well, been way off from asking price and the transaction closed. You just never know. 

Posted by Sandra Watkins (RE/MAX Town & Country) almost 8 years ago

Sandra - That is not always true.  Sellers sometimes do not counter when they are just too far apart to find common ground.

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

I can see your point in not bothering with a weak and sloppy offer like that.  I think it's terrible that some agents don't even consult with their brokers when putting together an offer, especially when they are inexperienced and really need the help.

Posted by Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089, Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info (Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers) almost 8 years ago

Georgina - I think the most incredible part is that an agent who puts together such a mess of an offer, gets indignant when the seller rejects it.

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

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