How to Negotiate for Sellers

The following information is to only be used with conjunction of the advice of a professional, ethical, licensed real estate agent.  This guide will help you understand how Nick Ahrens begins to approach negotiations.  Make sure to review the Nick Ahrens eBook on How To Analyze Offers before delving into this information; it will give a necessary background and starting point to further grasp assumed intricacies.


This information will serve as an introduction to approaches in preparing a counter offer for negotiation purposes.  When an offer, or multiple offers are received, the seller has the option to accept, ignore, or further negotiate by submitting counter offers. Counter offers are one of the most important aspects to real estate negotiation.  Remember, all negotiation must be in writing.  Without a written document, no negotiation has actually transpired.

Step 1: Look Behind All Submitted Offers - Determine Each Buyer’s Needs and Wants

Offers are often tailored to buyers’ needs and wants.  Your gent needs to contact each buyer-agent that submitted an offer to gather more information.  Do not reach out to the other agent directly.  When sellers call buyer-agents directly one of two things usually happen:

1. The agent requests to speak with your agent and feel it is very unprofessional to speak with a seller directly.  This buyer-agent will feel uncomfortable discussing any and all negotiations with the sellers.  It is unethical for agents to discuss this with sellers directly.  All agents understand this.  Some agents are simply unethical.

2. Unethical agents will have an open conversation about negotiations and/or their buyers’ situation.  They will openly discuss this information the sellers – and likely be lying and/or intentionally misleading.  Buyer-agents have signed a fiduciary duty to strictly look out for their buyers’ best interest.  Do you really think having a direct dialogue with this agent will benefit the seller? It creates a perfect situation for an unethical agent to manipulate a seller for their clients’ best interest.  Unless you enjoy getting taken advantage of, don’t ever open yourself up to this possibility.  Always have a level of distance between you an the buyer – your agent.

Your agent will call and professionally and ethically discuss various motivations for all buyers who submitted offers.  This conversation will help determine the buyers’ level of motivation in purchasing the property, determine which terms and conditions they are flexible and strict with, and other important issues and potential obstacles.

Lastly, your agent will get a “feel” for the other agent.  This will be important in the next two steps.

Step 2: Carefully Review All Gathered Information

Discuss all information gathered, and understand the context of the offer by reviewing the initial offer package in its entirety.  Here are just a few of the data points your agent should gather:

-Level of motivation for the buyer

-Buyers thoughts on fair market value for the property

-Which terms and conditions are more important and less important to the buyer

-Which terms and conditions are less important to the buyer

-Potential obstacles with each buyer

-Level of buyer-agent competence and professionalism


Once we analyze all of this information for every offer that has come in, we can determine an approach for each offer.

Step 3: Determine How to Respond to Offers, or Multiple Offers

If multiple quality offers are received, often the best option is a “best and final” type of counter offer strategy.  To do this, sellers must be prepared to not negotiate after receiving buyer responses to a “best and final” counter.  Countering again will upset buyers and create a distaste and distrust for the seller – a horrible strategy for starting an escrow.  This type of counter offer is simple and straight-forward, and works well with multiple quality offers.  Essentially it is a one-time request for all buyers to submit their best and final sales price.  For more detail on the psychological and tactical implementations of this strategy, contact Nick Ahrens.

The other common method of countering is to request a certain combination of price, conditions and/or terms to meet.  This essentially is sending a request for the buyer to meet demands.  The buyer will either back out or they will send another counter offer back to the seller.  For sellers and buyers, often times terms and conditions can be more important than a price.

For all negotiations, analyzing all offers in tremendous detail builds the foundation for using this strategy.  We must also consider the seller situation as well.  This often works best when deciding to counter 1-2 offers.  Every seller should be asked, “is the extra money, and change of terms/conditions so important to us that we are OK with risking that this buyer may be offended and walk away entirely?”  The answer should help guide the negotiation strategy.  Changing things drastically on a counter offer will often have negative consequences.

By changing things drastically, often times buyers will be upset with a seller.  The potential buyer would likely walk away believing that the seller is a jerk with the stubbornness of a rock.  This is frequently the result of an inexperienced seller and/or an unethical agent misguiding their seller.  Other times this happens because a buyer has completely unrealistic expectations, they are in their own make-believe “Fantasy Land,” their initial offer price was grossly under market value. 

Moderate or minor adjustments to price, terms and conditions are common when countering 1-2 offers.  Depending upon the buyer, they still may be upset and walk away with reasonable requests.  Trusting your agent and careful analysis of data are crucial to determining the negotiation strategy.  Consideration should also be taken for the personal situation of the seller.  Feelings for the buyer (good, bad and indifferent) should be set side. It is your agent’s responsibility to team with the seller to ensure a well-thought out negotiation strategy is implemented to create a win-win for all involved parties using all collected data, sound reason and proven negotiate tactics.

Every buyer is different and every seller is different amidst negotiation there is always unavoidable risk.  Careful assessment of risk is important for appropriate negotiation tactics to be determined.  Every transaction is different.  Having a trusted, professional agent for guidance is of the upmost importance.  The more open and honest you are, the better service a listing agent can provide.  The best strategy is often that which promotes a “win-win” situation for the seller and buyer.  Remember: after an offer is accepted, we will still negotiate repairs and other small items.  Setting the stage properly for a well-intentioned transaction most often lays the foundations for a smoother and more pleaseant transaction.

Part 4: Sending The Counter

Now that we have a comfortable level of confidence in our negotiation strategy, it is time to execute.  Your agent will carefully draft up the counter offer(s) and review them to ensure they are legal and without loop-holes.  Then your agent will then call the buyer-agent and explain the counter offer they are about to receive.  This will help answer questions the buyer is likely to have before it is presented to them, and also help reinforce the tactics and logic behind the negotiation strategy being implemented.  These are all essential for your agent to carefully explain the counter offer so it will be presented to the buyer in the best possible light and to ensure it gets presented in a positive/optomistic fashion.

Part 5: Wait For A Response

Now we wait… we wait for a reply with cautious optimism.  A standard counter offer allows 3 days for a buyer to reply, most serious buyers will respond well before the 3 days are expired.


*This was written by Nick Ahrens in 2017. It is merely an opinion, not intended to be a definitive system that works every time for everyone. Every homebuyer and family is different and all are in a different situations; because of this, talk to your local real estate expert to modify your search and customize your approach. Nick Ahrens, Remax Premier Realty, Kamran Realtors and their affiliates are not liable or responsible for any loss in attempted interpretation and use of this information.