Often, sellers make the mistake of only considering the price when the buyer makes an offer. Many people’s gut reaction is that the price is “too low” and immediately reject the offer. 

That could be a mistake. If you listen carefully, hidden inside the offer may be pearls of information that would make you reconsider accepting less than full price. You don’t want to reject any offer out-of-hand. Let us consider the deal carefully. It almost always consists of two parts. The first part is the price. The other part is the terms.



First ask yourself what you want out of the deal. A less than full price offer would have to list terms that were appealing.



• Higher-than-market-interest second (or first) mortgage in your favor
• The buyer will pay for all or part of your
closing costs.
• Taking a problem house “as is” (not asking you to fix the problem).
• Quick close (short escrow).
• All cash deal (when other are asking you to accept “paper”).
• Letting you rent back the house for a time
(if you are having trouble finding a place to move to).



1. Is the buyer pre-approved?
You want to know how qualified the buyer is to make the purchase. While you may not care about the buyer’s actual name, you’re looking for a strong pre-approval letter from a lender saying that this buyer will get a mortgage sufficiently enough to make the deal. If the buyer is putting down a substantial amount of cash, say 20 percent of the price, you also want to see a letter from a bank, certifying that the buyer has sufficient funds on hand to close the deal. Some smart buyers these days will even come in with a credit report to show you. 

2. How quickly can the buyer close the deal?
A buyer who’s ready to close in 30 days or less indicates strength. The buyer presumably has all his or her ducks in a row in terms of financing. A buyer who needs 45 or 60 days to close may be stretching, hoping to snag financing. Or this buyer may simply be trying to tie up your property as a kind of fallback position, while looking for other, better deals. Always question why a buyer needs extra time.

3. Are there any sweeteners?
A sweetener is a term or condition that makes the deal sweeter for you. Usually, these are the first things that agents point out. For example, you want to stay in the house an extra 2 months while your kids finish school and the buyer is willing to go along with this. That’s a sweetener.

4. Are there any cash incentives?
Is the buyer offering to pay you extra interest on a mortgage you’re willing to carry back? Is the buyer willing to pay for any of your closing costs?

5. Is there another property involved?
Some buyers are cash poor. Instead of offering a cash down payment, they may offer a mortgage on another property, or even that property itself. This complicates the deal, but could be a real boon. Be sure you have a realistic appraisal of the other property as well as a title report listing any liens so you can judge the value of the offer.

6. Are there any negative terms?
A negative term can be anything that makes the deal less attractive to you. Contingencies that favor the buyer are negatives. Some you can expect, such as demands for a professional inspection and disclosures. Others, such as a demand that the sale be contingent on the buyer not losing his or her job or that interest rates not climb beyond a certain point, may weaken the offer. Yet others, such as a demand that the offer be contingent upon the buyer’s great uncle in North Dakota coming through with a promised gift of money, may make the offer frivolous.

7. Is the price acceptable?

Note that the price is last on this list. You won’t really know if the price is acceptable until you’ve read the entire offer and understand it. Only then can you make a determination about whether you’ll accept the price. Don’t let the price deter you from considering the overall deal. Again it is only one part of offer.



When an offer is presented, a time limit may be attached to it. For example, a “Cinderella” deal is good only until midnight of the same day. You might receive it at 9 p.m., which leaves a window of three hours to accept, reject or counter. 

The idea behind this strategy is to force a seller to act swiftly. Most buyers will allow enough time for careful consideration. The important point here is to not be pressured by a deadline. You need to have enough time to feel comfortable with your decision. In other words, TAKE YOUR TIME! It is better to lose an offer than accept a bad one.

Always take enough time to fully consider the offer.