[quote_box_center]“Aspire rather to be a hero than merely appear one.” Baltasar Gracian[/quote_box_center]

In this sixth column of the offer negotiation series, let’s continue with the strategy for the counter-offer. Before proceeding, for continuity purposes, you might wish to review the last column.

If the buyer agent readily agrees to the initial verbal counter-offer proposal of the primary price and closing date, make the changes on the offer and proceed to the initialling and signing in a methodical manner. The buyer agent can double-check the changes and initials.

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The buyer agent may not oppose your seller’s primary terms, however, for a couple of reasons. They either believe their client will accept them, lack sufficient skill and experience to effectively handle the situation (they’re just order-takers) or they don’t care about getting the best terms for their client.

If you suspect a lack of skill, to hopefully prevent a further counter-counter offer from the buyer and to save everyone a lot of time and effort, here’s what you can do. Prior to making the changes on the offer, suggest the buyer agent call their client to seek verbal approval of the proposed terms. On the other hand, if your gut instinct tells you the terms may be acceptable to the buyer, be quiet and proceed with the formal sign-back.

If the buyer agent is an experienced negotiator, they may attempt to convince your seller to counter at a lower price or with a closing date more acceptable to their buyer. If they sufficiently press the issue, keeping in mind the concept of give and take, with a nod from your seller, you can agree to counter at your seller’s secondary price, closing date or both.

Chances are you’ll have just made a sale. The buyer’s agent will often enthusiastically agree to present a counter-offer to their buyer with the lower secondary price and/or closing date because they believe they’ve successfully negotiated better terms for their client. They return to their buyer in the belief that they successfully convinced the seller to cave – and that they’ll be perceived as a hero. They can boast that, in exchange for negotiating the price down from your seller’s primary amount, they saved them some money or got their preferred closing date. The agent’s enthusiastic energy usually generates acceptance.

If the buyer refuses to accept the secondary price, maybe your seller’s expectations are unrealistic – or the buyer’s are. Your seller may need guidance to objectively re-evaluate their property. If the market fails to give them their dream price, they mustn’t blame you. If the market disagrees with their lofty and patently subjective estimate of value, they must accept that the market doesn’t lie. They may have to adjust their expectations and reduce the asking price – or prepare themselves for no sale.

When all else fails, maybe that buyer wasn’t meant to be the next owner of your seller’s house. Unless it’s a strong seller’s market, making unreasonable demands usually proves disastrous. The same holds true for the opposite case in a buyer’s market. During normal balanced conditions, however, it’s give and take by both sides, like a gentle waltz. The key word is not to demand, but to negotiate. A successfully negotiated APS is usually a balanced one, a fair exchange scenario. In practice, unless duress or competitiveness due to market conditions is involved, a seller rarely gets exactly what they want, nor does a buyer usually obtain their perfect terms. Having said this, seller markets make very happy sellers and buyer markets the opposite.

This series on the offer presentation continues next month. Stay tuned for more on what can happen next, and how to effectively deal with it.


  1. Thanks for your comment, Nelson. That may or may not be true. I simply don’t know. Frankly, I feel that the basic premise of the seller paying the entire sales commission that’s typically split between his or her own agent and the buyer’s agent is fundamentally wrong. Something must change, and that something will eventually happen.

  2. It is illegal in Canada for a Home Buyer to financially incentivize their Buyer Brokerage to get them
    THE LOWEST PRICE POSSIBLE. It is Illegal Coast to Coast.

    It is legal in Canada for a Home Seller to financially incentivize their Seller Brokerage to get them
    THE HIGHEST PRICE POSSIBLE. It is legal Coast to Coast.

    The playing field is designed to ensure negotiations benefit only one side of the Kitchen table.

    • Nelson

      Referring to your first paragraph… I’ve never heard of a buyer providing an incentive to an agent to get him (the buyer) the lowest price.

      Guessing that would mean the buyer has a buyer agent contract in place and the incentive would be noted in that contract. Example: your buyer owns a car dealership and will give a car to his buyer agent as an incentive, perhaps. (LLb had best counsel on that buyer agent contract… Re how to prove, if ever challenged – so easy to challenge…)

      As to getting the property for the lowest price for the buyer, I can’t wrap my head around how anyone could ever qualify or quantify the actual sale price as being guaranteed in any way shape or form that in fact it ended up being the lowest possible price. How would anyone ever figure that out?

      And as regarding buyer agent contracts eventually happening on an everyday basis whereby the buyer pays his own agent (undisclosed contract amount, due to privacy protection), we should live so long to see such. But having said about privacy, one could think only “net” price to seller should be disclosed???? And how is his privacy protected.

      When law offices still don’t seem to want to acknowledge buyer agency wherein which the buyer pays his own agent (not to be confused with buying [purchasing] representation)… then there seems to be little hope of standardized complete buyer agency happening in our foreseeable future???

      My biggest concern is how the sold price, whatever it is, is reported when a buyer agent is paid directly.

      The sold price numbers are so skewed as to be useless and the danger comes from an appraisal used comps that does not know that the buyer paid commission involved in the transaction on any given address.

      The higher the sale price the greater the skew. Properties where the buyer agent is paid directly having been invoiced separately, in part or in full, produces misleading and unreliable comps as regards sale prices submitted, provided as required in MLS systems.

      That really has to stop, as it can be and often is, useless sale price information. But how would an appraiser or an agent preparing comps take this into consideration. Even if someone uses LRO registered sold prices. LRO has no idea who paid commissions or how much
      (Speaking of skewed numbers.)

      There needs to be an MLS reporting notation, perhaps a check box that can be noted: “buyer paid some or all of the commission on this transaction” (yes or no). This would not reveal how much buyer commission was paid on relation to any given address, but it would trigger a conversation to take the sold price disclosed as being some variable of what is stated at fact, when actually not factual at all.

      The final sales figure (misrepresented) could even affect taxes withheld regarding non-resident status sales. Surely skewing even taxes numbers calculations.

      The “system” is what it is but surely no one can attest that the numbers represent neither truth in advertising nor once placed in contiguous systems is simply not true representation of market driven numbers that are heavily relied on by many institutions for a multitude of purposes including municipal tax base future calculations.

      Carolyne L ?


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