So you’ve listed your house, you’ve shown it several times, and now a buyer has made an offer. This is the point when you have to make that agonizing decision: Do you accept or reject the offer? Selling house is usually about much more than top dollar, so this decision is seldom easy to make. Here’s some guidance, then, on how to decide whether to accept or reject an offer for your Los Angeles house.
When to Accept an Offer
Here are some of the circumstances when it makes the most sense to accept an offer:
Spring is the hottest time for home sales. So if you’re trying to sell during the winter, it just may be best to accept that offer – because you may not get many (or any) others. Top realtors agree that if you’re trying to sell between Thanksgiving and New Year, you should probably at least strongly consider the first offer.
MORE THAN THREE MONTHS ON THE MARKET
The length of time your house has been on the market should factor into the decision to accept or reject an offer for your Los Angeles house. If it has been on the market for more than three months (for whatever reason), buyers will automatically assume something is wrong with it. If you get an offer at that point, it might be wise to accept it.
An all-cash offer, even if it’s a little lower than what you actually want, should be accepted in most cases. You won’t have to wait on the buyer to get financing, and cash buyers are usually amenable to an as-is deal.
STRUGGLING WITH MAJOR LIFE EVENT
If you’re going through or struggling with a major life event, then deciding whether to accept or reject an offer for your Los Angeles house should be fairly easy. If you have to relocate for a job or have just gone through a divorce, then accepting the offer and moving on may be the better course.
ALREADY FOUND NEW HOME
Most people looking to sell a house are also shopping for a new one to move into. If you’re in this position and have already found that new house (and maybe have started moving in), it may be better to accept an offer. If you don’t, you will have to keep paying for utilities and property taxes and other costs, and you may wind up paying on two mortgages simultaneously. In this case, a quick sale is probably more important than top dollar for you as the seller.
When to Reject an Offer
There are, however, certain situations in which it is probably better to reject an offer, including:
Obviously, if you receive a higher offer, there’s not much to decide whether to accept or reject an offer for your Los Angeles house when a previous offer was lower. But the better offer isn’t always about dollars only. If, for example, you receive two offers for the same amount, but one buyer asks for fewer concessions, then you should reject the offer involving more concessions.
Also, if you’ve done your research and have reasonable expectations concerning the asking price, you will know when to accept or reject an offer. This sounds painfully obvious, but many sellers have unrealistic expectations about price and time on the market. So if you’re asking for something very near fair market value, any offer much below that should be rejected.
FINANCING NOT IN ORDER
Whether or not a buyer has financing lined up has a lot to do with whether you should accept or reject an offer. When a buyer hasn’t been pre-approved for a mortgage or doesn’t have enough cash for a cash offer that is good grounds for rejection. An offer made when either of these conditions obtains is not a credible offer, and the buyer is not a serious buyer. So, basically, an offer should be rejected when there is no proof that it is indeed a genuine offer.
TOO MANY CONCESSIONS
The consensus among experts is that an offer should be rejected when the buyer asks for too many concessions. Asking for some concessions is just standard practice, but beware of the buyer who goes overboard and asks for an unreasonable amount or something way too large. Unreasonable concessions, for example, might be asking you to pay all the closing costs or asking you to pay for a new roof.
Most of the time, you will have no trouble deciding whether to accept or reject an offer for your Los Angeles house. Sometimes, though, it’s not always so clear, and the decision is a little cloudier. But that’s what your real estate agent is for. She can help avoid making an enormously costly mistake.