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What lies between offer and acceptance? The counteroffer

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2021 | Real Estate Law

You make a bid on a home and you hear back from the seller: They didn’t say, “No,” but they didn’t say, “Yes,” either.

Instead, you got a counteroffer.  What does that mean for you?

A deal isn’t a contract without both offer and acceptance

No contract is valid until an offer has been made and accepted. When you get a counteroffer, the seller is showing that they’re open to negotiation — but they’re also quite able to sell the home to someone else during this time. If they get an offer they like better than yours, your dream home could vanish.

So what should you do? Here are some options:

  1. Accept their counteroffer as-is, with no changes. At that point, you have a contract and can start the complicated steps that go along with finalizing the deal and closing on the property.
  2. Make a new counteroffer and hope that they’re still open to negotiation. Naturally, this is a bit risky, so you have to decide if you’re comfortable with taking a chance. If the market in your area is “hot” or a seller’s market, you may not want to do this. If the market is “soft” or the property has been sitting around for a while, you may have more leverage.

Counteroffers tend to focus around some main areas:

  • The sale price on the home
  • Closing costs
  • The amount of earnest money you need to put down
  • Contingencies to the sale (like a home inspection or obvious repairs)
  • Closing date

Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you have experienced guidance when it does come time to close on your new home — whether it’s the house you’re negotiating over today or another one that comes along.