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5 Ways To Prevent Low-Ball Real-Estate Offers

By: Amy Woods, July 13, 2015

A real-estate cartoon features a wide-eyed homeseller telling his real-estate broker, “Ideally, I’m looking for something with a happy ending.” It might not be funny, but it is true.

A housing transaction in its finest form should involve a buyer enamored with the seller’s home, a seller agreeable to the buyer’s offer and both parties onboard with the deal. It doesn’t always happen that way, though.

One of the reasons a deal can turn sour is an action called low-balling, which describes a buyer who submits an offer to the seller that is 25 percent or more below the asking price. Once the offer is submitted, things can go downhill rapidly.

Here are five ways to prevent the damage from being done in the first place.

Take the market’s temperature

Buyers, with the help of their agents, should have an absolutely accurate beat on home prices in any area of interest. Temperature readings should be taken frequently, as markets are dynamic and can shift within weeks, if not days. A best practice it to chart the percentage difference between list prices and sale prices. Pricing a home too high when the numbers show it should sell for less can lead to low-ball offers.

“Knowing the percentage difference between the actual list and sales prices for the houses in a neighborhood speaks volumes about the current market’s activity,” according to “This is a strong indicator which direction the market is moving, and will indicate how much less – or maybe even more – than the ideal asking price a homeowner can expect to get for their home.

Compare apples to apples

Before putting a price tag on a piece of property, analyze similar properties on the same street or in the same neighborhood. Look at homes that are of the same age, have comparable amenities, sit on similar lot sizes and appear to be in equal condition. Such details help determine the price and will prevent sellers from missing the mark.

Don’t waste time

The National Association of Realtors estimates the average housing transaction, from start to finish, takes three months. Low-balling slows down the process. Knowing time is money, buyers should resist the taking the strategy of offering an unfair amount in order to score a cheap sale. If a buyer low-balls and has to start all over again, it might take another three months to find a home.

Consider emotions

Sellers are facing the parting of ways with a home that might have fond memories or personal significance. It’s emotional. The price of the property represents its value not only in the marketplace but also in the seller’s psyche. Submitting a low-ball offer most definitely will set the negotiating process in the wrong direction.

“A seller and a good seller’s agent will not take that offer seriously,” according to “In fact, even if they do respond, that seller now does not want to sell the home to your client and will do almost anything to encourage another buyer to step up.”

Think about missing an opportunity

A buyer finds a perfect piece of property listed at $300,000. It’s a fixer-upper but still a good deal. He thinks, “Maybe I can get it for less if I gamble a little.” His offer: $270,000. Expecting the seller to come back with a counter offer, and hopeful his scheme would result in a $290,000 contact, the buyer never hears back from the seller. When he offers to pay the original asking price, he gets the door slammed in his face because the seller is so offended by the low-ball tactic.

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