How to Deal With a Low Ball Offer On My Home

How to Deal With a Low Ball Offer On My HomeGetting a low ball offer on your home can be pretty frustrating initially. You have your sights set on a price that you feel is reasonable and you expect to get at least that much on your home. When the low-ball offer comes in it can be upsetting, but it doesn’t have to be. The fact that someone wants to buy your home is a good thing and you should deal with every offer – unless it is just completely ridiculous.

Negotiation is how selling a home works and low offers are better than no offers. Maybe it will even turn into the perfect sale. This is something every seller should consider before emotions take over and they just slam the door on a low offer. Before you are done reading you will see  how to handle a low ball offer on your house by following the advice provided.

Handling low offers on your home

Control your emotions – Selling a home can be surprisingly emotional. You may have spent years living in your house, raised a family and done a ton of renovations. All of this can make the house seem like a treasure instead of a piece of real estate. When you are selling though, it is time to leave your emotional attachments at the door. You are engaging in business and it is a business of negotiation. The first person to lose his or her cool is the one that loses. This may be a hidden opportunity, so remain calm and deal with the offer appropriately. Recently I was selling a home in Hopkinton Massachusetts and the home owner received what would be considered a low ball offer.

The seller’s immediate reaction was one of disgust. Of course this is a normal reaction and one that numerous Realtors have to deal with. As you can probably guess the owner of the home wanted me to tell them to take a leap off a bridge. In fact they actually wanted me to counter offer back to the buyer over the asking price. Taking their emotions to the extreme they wanted to use the “I’ll show them” mentality. Instead I asked them to take a deep breath and not act in the same manner that the buyer did.

The one thing I tell all of my seller clients is that it doesn’t matter where a buyer starts with their offer. What matters is where they end up! As a real estate agent with years of experience there are times where you can just tell that the sale stands a strong chance of coming together. Other times you know it won’t. This was a case where I was pretty confident it would end up coming together and it did. The buyer happened to be a first timer who was getting bad advice from their parents.

While most parents intentions are good, many think they are real estate or negotiation experts. Rarely is this ever the case and the parents could have cost this buyer purchasing their dream home. In the end it worked out because I convinced the seller to treat the sale of their home as a business transaction and nothing more.

Dealing With a Low Ball Real Estate OfferThe buyer of this particular home initially offered $70,000 less than asking price on a home that was priced well. The initial counter we ended up making to the buyer was $5000 less than asking. What this did was send a very clear message to the buyer saying we are not desperate and have priced this home where it needs to be. Long story short, the home ended up selling for $15,000 less than asking which was right in line with the sellers expectations. The seller followed my advice to a tee and got exactly what they wanted. Does this happen in every circumstance? No of course not. You are much better off however, not to put the kibosh on your sale by acting with emotion.

From a buyers perspective the last thing you want to do is insult the seller with a low ball offer. More than likely the house you have set your sights on is something you really want. You don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with the seller and completely blow your chances.

Most buyers forget the seller may have lived in the home for years. It is a place where lasting memories have been built like kids birthdays, a first child, opening toys at Christmas and numerous gatherings with friends and family.

At this point you may think of it as just another house, to a seller they think of it as “home”. Never underestimate the emotional attachment homes can bring. While the goal of any buyer who makes a low ball offer is to get a great deal if you have no deal at all because you have royally pissed off the seller where will that leave you!

You are in control – The thing about selling your house that you need to remember is that you are in control. You don’t have to accept any offer you don’t want to. Granted, you may be under some sort of deadline – you found another home you want to buy – or you may just really need the money. Circumstances are different for everyone. But in the end, you do not have to say yes to anything you don’t want to.

Make a counter offer – There are a number of reasons why a person could offer you an amount much lower than you are willing to accept. Buyers are sometimes worried that they will pay too much for a home and they make low offers initially as a customary gesture. They are interested in your home and want to get the negotiations going without committing too much. This is why you don’t want to get worked up over a low initial offer.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are some cultures who are taught you ALWAYS need to negotiate. Your home could be the best value in town but that doesn’t necessarily mean the buyer is going to start the negotiations where you want them to.

It is possible the buyer could be not listening to their Realtor and instead looking at a Zillow estimate of value. While most Real Estate agents understand the chances of Zillow pegging a real estate value accurately are as good as seeing big foot in your backyard, buyers do not. Instead they rely on data that is completely out in left field.

When you are confident you have priced your home correctly this is when you want to hold the line very close to your asking price. Often times sellers will put a little bit of cushion between the list price of their home and ultimately where they expect it to sell at. For the same reason the buyer is now bidding low because they are probably expecting to meet somewhere in the middle. When you really want or need to sell meeting in the middle makes everyone feel like a winner.

When dealing with a low ball offer you can do one of the following:

  1. Do nothing and tell the buyer the offer is insulting.
  2. Counter offer over asking price.
  3. Counter with something minimal.

In most circumstances when dealing with a low offer, choice #3 is the best course of action. The first two choices are confrontational. They make you feel better in the short term but they don’t work towards accomplishing the desired goal of selling your home.

If after you have countered with something minimal and the buyer does not come up substantially then you know you are wasting your time.


Happy Real Estate SellerReview the terms – The selling price of the home is not the only thing that is important for you or for the buyer. There could be other things that you are also concerned with. As stated earlier, you may want to sell the house quickly because you are buying another home that you really want. If this is the case, a buyer that is willing to close quickly may be worth catering too, even if it is for a slightly lower price than what you want. There are other factors at play besides price. Review these factors and decide if they are worth going lower on your asking price. Here are some reasons that could make one offer more appealing than another besides price:

  • A preferred closing date.
  • A rock solid mortgage pre-approval letter from the buyer instead of a pre-qualification.
  • The buyer putting more money down.
  • The buyer is paying cash so their is no mortgage contingency.
  • The buyer having fewer inspection contingencies.

Look at the comps – Depending on where you are in your sale, the comparable listings may have changed since you set your initial price. The price of homes goes up and down all the time and your asking price may no longer be competitive. The buyer may also have a list of comps that you want to review.

There is no point in blindly insisting that the price you set is the only reasonable price for the property. How other similar homes are selling right now is an important indicator of how much you can sell your home for – right now. In the example I shared above the home had just come on the market so I was extremely confident in the value that was provided to the seller.

One of the ways we were able to get the buyer to come up so substantially from their original offer was to provide them with comparable sales data. The buyer’s agent was not from the area and did not know the area nearly as well as I did. It was easy for me to share how the market value of the home was arrived at.

Neither the buyer or their agent had an understanding of the differences of one neighborhood to the next which plays a substantial role in a properties value. All of the comparable properties that were selling in the area had very narrow list price to sale price ratios. I made sure this was pointed out to the buyers agent. The market was dictating the fact that homes were selling fairly quickly and going close to asking prices.

On the slip side if your home is overpriced a buyer who makes an offer substantially under the list price is not really a low ball offer. They are offering what they feel is the real market value or close to it. Today’s home buyers are pretty astute so if your home has been sitting on the market for months longer than the time it takes for the average property to sell in your area they will know. Most buyers know how to tell if a home is overpriced.  If you have had tons of showings on your property and it has been on the market for quite a long time you might want to think about why that is the case.

Don't Hire a Realtor Drama QueenLook to your agent – This is part of why you hire a Realtor. You want a team member that is willing to negotiate for you and get you what you want. The Realtor does this for a living, so he or she is best suited to get you a good price on your home. Let the agents discuss the deal together and see where you wind up. It may be that your Realtor is the key to getting you the deal you want for your house. One thing to keep in mind is that not every agent is equipped to keep their emotions in check.

You don’t want an agent that will act emotionally anymore than you would want yourself. Unfortunately there are some Realtors who relish “the drama” of selling real estate. You don’t want a drama queen as part of your negotiating team. The agent who is calm, cool and collected is the kind of Realtor you want in your corner. A skilled real estate agent should never overreact to a low ball real estate offer. It should be business as usual. The agents job is to get you the most money with the least amount of hassle so you end up at a closing table!

Hopefully the best way to deal with a low ball offer on your home has become more clear!

Additional Resources on Negotiating and Selling a Home

Use these additional helpful resources to keep your emotions in check and negotiate the best possible sale price for your home!

About the author: The above Real Estate information on how to deal with a low ball offer on my home was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 27+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

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    • says

      Thanks very much Michael. You are right about that. Over the years I have received many low ball offers. I would bet that at least half of them the seller never thought it would end in a sale.

  1. says

    Bill, I love the big foot analogy for value and Zillow. The consumer asks numerous times about that and the obvious, is it out there, is it real is a great comparison. The value we bring with our negotiations and back to logic, not emotion is huge.
    Thanks for your article.

  2. says

    Too many people get their emotions involved when this should be a basic negotiation. I deal with buyers and sellers all the time and many times within the same transaction so keeping their emotions at today is sometimes challenging, especially when you’re working both sides. Lowball offers are very very common and I usually coach my sellers about them ahead of time and what to do with them. Great article, Bill

  3. says

    Very informative Bill. The District Sales Manager of my office recently had her client choose option number 1, do nothing and convey to the buyers their dismay. After some talking through with my manager (who was their realtor) they decided to counter. The buyer accepted their counter which was only slightly below the asking price. They did lose a couple of weeks in the process while they sat and fumed though.

    • says

      Paul I have seen this a lot throughout my career as a real estate agent. All offers should be dealt with even if the owner thinks the buyer’s offer is a low ball. You just never know as you have pointed out!

  4. says

    Bill, very well written post. As much as sellers may want to do just nothing, it would be in their best interest to counter back with something minimal. Selling a home can be emotional and sometimes those emotions can kill a deal.

  5. Lola says

    Can someone please help I have 2 duplexes and a house that we are selling all together as investment property. We have priced it reasonably at 289,000. We received an offer of 240,000 cash with a closing in 15 days. We feel this is really a low ball offer and really need 25,000 more to do this. The home been on the market for 6 months. Do we counter or settle? Please advise.

    • says

      Lola your question is a difficult one to answer because I know nothing about your market or the property. What I can tell you is this – if the home has been on the market for six months and you have not received an acceptable offer it is probably priced too high. I also wouldn’t accept a buyers first offer. You should counter offer and see where it goes. You may be able to find some happy middle ground.

  6. says

    Selling a home is just like bartering in a market, something that doesn’t happen much in the US. However, when you barter you always ask for as low a price as you think you can get and work from there. The first offer is almost never serious and counter offers are expected. It is the name of the game, so I agree that you should stay calm and respond with a counter offer.

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