Buyers always expect to have a negotiation with a seller. Due to this, you can expect their first offer to always be lower than what they’re really willing to spend. Knowing this, don’t ever be initially upset or offended by an offer. Who can blame someone for trying to spend the least they have to on a house? See: Home Negotiation Strategies. If the second offer is just as insulting, then you can probably write off that buyer. But know that they are most of the time willing to go above what they offer you the first time.
Most sellers will then counteroffer with a price that is lower than what they listed the house at; this is because they’re scared they’ll lose the sale. Sellers need to be willing to stand behind what their house is worth. They may make the sale by countering below list price, but if the home is worth exactly what they’re asking, they shouldn’t bend. Of course, it’s not worth losing a deal over a few thousand dollars, but if it is a substantial amount of money, you might want to let that buyer go.
What you should do instead is counter at your list price. If someone really wants your house, they’ll submit an offer closer to that price. This only works if you have your house priced correctly. If your list price is ridiculously high, this tactic is definitely not going to work. Read: 7 Negotiating Tips for Homebuyers.
InBuyers may be surprised by this strategy, and some will be turned off by your unwillingness to negotiate and walk away. But you’ll also avoid wasting time on buyers who only make lowball offers, and who aren’t so much interested in buying your property as they are in getting a bargain.
After you list the house on the market, don’t consider any offers until after the open house. Buyers will think that they are in a competition with other buyers, and it may create a bidding war; this is always an ideal scenario. Often, bidding wars will cause the price to exceed what you have the house listed at. You can also consider putting a time limit on your counter offer. For example, don’t leave it open ended. Add a contingency to the offer that they must let you know whether they accept your offer after “x” number of days.
Don’t make the deadline so short that the buyers are turned off, but consider making it shorter than the default timeframe in your state’s standard real estate contract.
When a buyer submits their offer and asks you to pay their closing costs, don’t initially say no. Come up with your own contingencies as well. For example, say you’ll pay their closing costs if they do “x” for you. Of course, make sure what you are requesting is reasonable, and doesn’t exceed the value of the closing costs. For further reading on this subject, see: How to Negotiate the Best Price When Buying a Home.