First listen to (your agent may read you the offer over the phone) or read the entire offer. Terms can make a difference. Do these buyers want to close in your time frame? Have they put down a reasonable amount of earnest money to show they’re serious? Is the interest rate in their financing contingency slightly above the current market? And lastly, is the price offered at the current market value?
You can counter on any or all of the terms. But keep in mind, that once you counter, you’ve voided their offer. If they turn down your counter offer and you say “Well, okay, we’ll take your first offer” the buyers are completely within their rights to say “No, you voided that offer when you countered. We’re no longer interested.”
Your agent should discuss each of the terms with you. These buyers want to close in 30 days. Can you pack up and be out by then? If at all possible, try to go along with them on this. Lake Gaston buyers are notoriously eager to get into their new lake houses, particularly as warm weather approaches.
As a practical matter, once the listing agent marks your home “pending” (for contract pending) on the multiple listing system, most agent will stop showing it. The earnest money is to show that the buyers are serious. Your listing agent will tell you if she thinks the amount they put down is adequate or if you should ask that it be increased. Fortunately, it’s rare at Lake Gaston for a buyer to back out regardless of the amount of earnest money they put down.
The financing contingency basically says “If we can’t get this size loan on these terms, the deal’s off.” Of course mortgage rates vary day to day. Thus if current 30 year fixed rates are 6.0%, you’d like to see the contingent rate slightly above this in case rates increase while they’re working with their mortgage lender. But again, it’s rare at Lake Gaston for a buyer to back out because interest rates have risen slightly.
And now, the price offered. In some markets, the buyer’s first offer is frequently far below the asking price. That’s not the norm at Lake Gaston, but if it is the case with your offer, don’t take it personally, simply discuss with your agent what would be a reasonable counter offer in light of how long your house has been on the market, the number of buyers who’ve looked at it, and any other offers you’ve had. Remember, the buyer doesn’t know you, so don’t be insulted by a low offer. As a smart agent once said “This offer is better than the one we got yesterday.” “We didn’t get an offer yesterday.” “That’s my point.”
Now, you’ve accepted the initial offer, or countered, or maybe even re-countered, but at last you have a signed contract! Congratulations! Now, on to "Our House is Under Contract!"