Tom Polk, ABR, CRS
Austin area real estate,
 over 30 years done properly

"I want to offer less"
Tips to Help a Seller Accept Your Offer

1. Know Thyself:  Why do you want to offer less?

        At the grocery store a bottle of shampoo is marked $3.59, and you tell the checker, “I’ll give you $2.59 for that.” What kind of look do you get?

        Then again, at the car dealership, you know the sticker price, and you tell the salesman, “Knock $100 off that, and I’ll buy it.” Would he feel pretty positive about making the deal?

        In those two situations, the rules are pretty clear.  One price is non-negotiable and the other is quite negotiable.

        But what about real estate?  Now you have found a house you like, and you want to make an offer. In what cases should you offer the asking price? When should you offer less, and how much less?

        As a general rule, you offer full price in two situations:

The home is a builder’s new home


You know the home is worth the price and/or

you want to make sure your offer is accepted.

     Examine why you want to offer less.   Is the asking price not in your range? Or does offering less assure you that you are not leaving money on the table? Maybe you are just not enthusiastic enough to pay full price, even though the property may be worth it.

        If you don't clear up these issues with yourself before making your offer, negotiations may stall. You may end up with contract terms you don’t want. You may lose the house you really want.

  • Have your agent help you determine what the property is worth before making an offer. 

  • Get the information you need to weigh the risk of offering too little against the risk of not getting the property.

  • Find out the history of any prior offers, the owner’s motivation for selling, and the price for which comparable properties have recently sold.

  • Then proceed with your offer.

2. Give Sellers Confidence

        Use home sellers' fears to your advantage.  Home sellers hear horror stories from friends who had their house “tied up off the market for weeks” only to lose the sale because the buyer did not qualify or was spooked by expensive repairs. 

        Delight your sellers with strong evidence of your ability to obtain financing and your willingness to deal quickly with any property condition concerns. Better yet, obtain financing before you make your offer. This enables you to provide the sellers with written proof that you can get the money. Knowing this allows them to consider your offer unencumbered by insecurity.

        Most of the costs you incur in buying a house are loan costs. Your lender should provide you immediately with a good faith estimate of your closing costs. What kind of institutions make home loans?

        Win by using a credible lender. Although banks, savings and loans, credit unions, and even stockbrokers offer loans, the majority of home buyers get their financing through mortgage companies. Mortgage companies are extremely competitive with each other. The majority of my clients who evaluated the terms of their bank or credit union chose a mortgage company.         

        If you don’t already have a source, here's a lender with whom my clients have been very pleased:

Cheryl Darter

Mortgage Banker, Loan Officer
Bancorp South
11149 Research Blvd., Ste. 290
Austin, TX 78759
Direct line - (512) 687-0665
Cell phone - (512) 751-6135
Fax - (512) 687-0574
online application:


        Impress the Seller by going beyond mediocre. Industry standard “lender letters” can be too noncommittal to be effective. Such a letter usually states that it appears that you can get a loan, but makes no guarantee. Sellers who can see through such language are not impressed. 

        Seek out a lender who will approve your loan immediately.  A good lender can do this within one day of your submitting your application.  Then you can provide the seller with an approval letter that says your loan is already approved.

        Give them no reason to doubt whether you're qualified. If you must use a prequalification letter because your loan has not been processed, you should make sure the letter indicates the maximum amount for which you qualify. Your priority here is to instill confidence. In this situation, you can enhance your position by including with your offer a list of your income and debts and a copy of your credit report (if it looks good!)

        YIKES! Some lenders advise buyers that telling the sellers the maximum for which they qualify encourages the seller to counteroffer at that amount.  So they provide lender letters saying that the buyer can qualify only for the offering price.  In my experience, this practice hurts buyers because it implies that they are borderline financial risks. Sellers are not likely to compromise as much if they think the transaction is shaky

        So how do you keep a seller from justifying that you should pay more because your lender says you can? Have your agent communicate to the seller that you know your financial situation better than any lender. As much as you love the house, this offer is as much as you feel you can afford. The sellers are likely to appreciate your candor, to be sympathetic, and to do their best for you.This process works so much better than telling the sellers all the reasons no one else would make a better offer. When I have presented offers where the buyers or their agents communicated that sort of thing to the sellers, the sellers invariably have gotten defensive and snorted, “Well, if they don’t like my house they don’t have to buy it!”

3. Give Sellers Convenience

        Find out what date the sellers want to move and offer that date for closing. The general practice is for the sellers to give you the keys when they get their money. 

        Offering to let sellers rent back from you for a couple of days after closing can often help them justify to themselves a lower sales price. It gives them more move-out and cleanup time, which can benefit you.  My clients have won in multiple offer situations because they gave the seller this option. 

        Promise to do your inspections early in the transaction. Make sure they know you've read the Seller's Disclosure and that you are fine with it. 

        Be understanding. If your sellers have lived with minor defects or outdated safety requirements that were fine for them but don’t work for you, structure your offer to take the burden off them, but still get done what you need done. A little give on your part can mean a lot of get.

Call Tom: 512-327-9310 x 234

Stanberry & Associates has operated as a real estate brokerage firm licensed in the State of Texas since 1985.

Tom Polk is a real estate broker licensed in the State of Texas.