To accept or counter....THAT is the question!
The time has come! You have an offer in hand and now you have to decide how or whether to move forward. You have 3 choices at this point. Accept the contract with all the provisions enclosed at the price presented, reject the offer entirely or counter with an offer that is acceptable to you. There are advantages and consequences to be considered with each. Once you accept, you are under contract as the contract is written. You are bound to the provisions contained within so be sure you are very clear on the terms. This can be a great option if the offer is a fair one and it works for you!
If you reject the contract entirely, you run the risk of offending the buyer and may not see another offer.
If the terms are acceptable, acceptance is the quick avenue to a pending sale, but if there are some items that you want to change, such as purchase price, closing dates or other provisions than a counter may be the best avenue for your. Keep in mind that although you do have the right to counter, your buyer has the right to terminate at that point or counter again.
It's important not to get caught up in personal feelings and ideals when negotiating a contract. You have to decide for yourself what is worth giving in on, and what you absolutely will not budge on. Many a seller has lost a deal because they countered over the asking price just to make a point to a low ball offer. You never know what someone is capable or willing to pay until you have an accepted offer. Never write off a buyer until the deal is dead, you might be surprised how much they are willing to come up. The DIY and Homebuyer shows on TV are notorious for feeding into the idea that buyers can low ball properties and get a steal. That may be true in some markets but in a solid real estate market where agents are pricing accurately, its not likely unless you are dealing with a distressed property or extenuating circumstances that are forcing a fast sale.
Many sellers also miss out on a good offer because it comes too early in the listing process. If you get an offer early in the listing.....good for you!!!! It doesn't mean that you are listed too low or that a better offer is down the pike, it only means that a buyer was looking for what you have to offer when you listed. Your largest pool of buyers occur in the first 10 days of a listing because you are accessing all the people that have been searching for homes for months or even years! Once you've expended that pool, you will have to sit and wait for new buyers to come on the market. Many a seller has turned down an offer early in the listing only to accept an offer significantly lower down the road. Consult with your Realtor. Look at the comparables. Study the market. Is winter coming? Is the trend slowing down or are prices dropping? Know your market before you throw away an opportunity.
"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"