But That Was What WE Offered Them

Have you ever had this experience, or know someone else who has?  Here's the situation:

Buyer has been searching for homes and finally decides on one that meets his needs.  He makes an offer, negotiates in good faith, but the seller decides not to accept it.  Then weeks go by...maybe even months.  Eventually the house sells, and when that original buyer investigates, he discovers that the seller sold his home for what the buyer had offered months earlier.  What happened?

Actually, this is not such an uncommon situation and for a whole host of reasons...none of which being nefarious.  Take a look at SOME of the reasons why a seller might eventually accept a previously rejected offer:

  • First and foremost, price is not the only component of an offer, though to hear buyers and sellers alike talking about their purchase or sale one might reasonably think it is.  There are many things to consider when creating a contract, things like time frame of closing, how well qualified the buyer is (which, from the seller's perspective, translates into how likely it is that the transaction will make it to the closing table), what type of financing they buyer chooses (which, in some circumstances, can translate into higher costs and/or higher risk for the seller), what additional "concessions" the buyer is requesting (which impacts the seller's bottom line), among other things.  A change in any of a number of the "terms" of a contract can make the difference between one that is acceptable to the seller and one that is not.  Case in point:  if you were a seller who absolutely must close you home as soon as possible and you had two identical offers, both with closing dates within your desired time frame, but one required financing while the other was a cash certain offer, which would you pick?

  • There is nothing "static" about the real estate market...it is constantly changing.  Availability of housing changes; availability of buyers changes; availability of affordable financing changes; number of competing properties changes.  A seller who feels he has little "competition", thereby deeming his property more "valuable", is far less negotiable than he is when new inventory comes on the market and more competitive pricing.  Timing is everything!
  • There is also nothing "static" about life!  A seller who believes has 12 months to sell his home, who professes he's "in no hurry", is far less negotiable when that is his situation.  However, because situation changes, if he suddenly discovers he's about to lose his job, or his wife has become pregnant again and he now "needs" a bigger house, might find a previously "unacceptable" offer perfectly reasonable now.  Circumstances change, and when they do, so does motivation.  Motivation matters!
  • And personality matters as well!  More than one home has sold, or not, because of the personalities and temperaments of the people involved.  The seller who "loves" their home, has put their sweat and tears into their home, has filled that home with memories both wonderful and not, might easily reject an offer they deem "insulting".  A buyer never really knows what that home (which is basically "brick and mortar" to them) really means to the seller for whom that home means a whole lot more, and how difficult it might be for that seller to let go...even if they really must.  Two buyers with identical offers might have extremely different results with their offers, simply because one shows the seller greater respect for that connection during the process of negotiation.  I've even seen sellers take less from one buyer vs another because they "really liked the one buyer and wanted them to have their home".

Of course price matters, to both the seller and the buyer.  But it's important to remember that price is not the only thing that's important when negotiating a contract.  This is one place where the cliche really is true...it's often the little things that make the big difference!