Mortgages & Home Loans Real Estate Resources All About Real Estate Counteroffers The Counteroffer Chess Match By Elizabeth Weintraub Elizabeth Weintraub Facebook Twitter Elizabeth Weintraub is a nationally recognized expert in real estate, titles, and escrow. She is a licensed Realtor and broker with more than 40 years of experience in titles and escrow. Her expertise has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS Evening News, and HGTV's House Hunters. learn about our editorial policies Updated on June 1, 2022 Reviewed by Doretha Clemon Reviewed by Doretha Clemon Doretha Clemons, Ph.D., MBA, PMP, has been a corporate IT executive and professor for 34 years. She is an adjunct professor at Connecticut State Colleges & Universities, Maryville University, and Indiana Wesleyan University. She is a Real Estate Investor and principal at Bruised Reed Housing Real Estate Trust, and a State of Connecticut Home Improvement License holder. learn about our financial review board In This Article View All In This Article Why Has the Seller Countered? How Many Counteroffers Are Normal? How Is a Counteroffer Rejected? How Is a Counteroffer Accepted? Can Sellers Make Multiple Counteroffers With Multiple Buyers? Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: FatCamera / Getty Images Home sellers make counteroffers when they’re dissatisfied with a buyer’s initial bid. Typically, a counteroffer states that the seller has accepted the buyer's offer subject to one or more changes. These changes could include the sales price, the removal of certain contingencies, the earnest money deposit, or the closing date, among other options. Key Takeaways In some cases, a home seller may make a counteroffer if they are not happy with the buyer's offer.Counteroffers typically involve things like changing the price or increasing the size of the earnest money deposit.Just as a seller can submit a counteroffer to a buyer, a buyer can counter the seller's counter, which then becomes a counter-counteroffer.Sellers can accept, reject, or make a counteroffer to any bid they receive. Why Has the Seller Countered? Counteroffers typically involve things like changing the price the buyer will pay for the property or increasing the size of the earnest money deposit. The seller might also refuse to pay for certain reports or fees in a counteroffer. Changing the closing or possession date is another common reason for a counteroffer, as is excluding or adding personal property from the purchase. The seller might want to modify contingency time frames or have deposits released early. She might also want to add amendments. Note It's also possible that the initial offer itself is basically fine, but the seller wants to fix a buyer's or agent's mistake. How Many Counteroffers Are Typical? Just as a seller can submit a counteroffer to a buyer, a buyer can counter the seller's counter, which then becomes a counter-counteroffer or Buyer Counteroffer No. 1. There is no limit to the number of counteroffers that can go back and forth. Here's an example of five counters on a property that was listed at $415,000. The buyer had submitted a lowball offer of $400,000. This was the result: Counteroffer No. 1 (from the seller to buyer): Seller makes a counteroffer, asking bumping the sales price up to $412,000. They also agree to include the washer and dryer without warranty.Buyer Counteroffer No. 1 (to seller): Buyer counters sales price to $405,000. They agree to the inclusion of the washer and dryer without warranty.Seller Counteroffer No. 2 (to the buyer): Seller counters sales price to $409,900. They exclude the washer and dryer from the sale, to make up for the lower sales price.Buyer Counteroffer No. 2 (to seller): Buyer counters sales price to $407,500. They agree to the exclusion of the washer and dryer.Seller Counteroffer No. 3 (to the buyer): Seller agrees to the sales price of $407,500. Refrigerator, washer, and dryer are all excluded from sale. The buyer finally accepts the fifth counter, both parties sign the contract, and the sale proceeds. How Is a Counteroffer Rejected? Sellers can accept, reject, or make a counteroffer to any bid they receive. If they do opt to reject an offer, there is often a spot near the bottom of the contract form where they can initial that the offer has been rejected. They also might choose to write "Rejected" across the face of the contract and then initial and date it. Sellers (or their agents) can also reject an offer orally. Sellers also have the right not to respond at all. The listing agent can email the buyer's agent to communicate the fact that the seller will not respond because the offer is unacceptable, but sellers generally aren't required to formally reject an offer in writing. Note All offers and counteroffers include expiration dates, so be sure to make note of yours when deciding how to move forward. How Is a Counteroffer Accepted? The buyer can simply accept the counteroffer and deliver it back signed to the sellers and their agent. Time is of the essence, though, as every counteroffer includes an expiration date. It’s also important to note that the seller can accept another offer while the buyer is deciding whether to move forward—another reason to act quickly when a counteroffer is on the table. If the seller does get a more favorable offer while the buyer is deciding, the seller will typically withdraw the counteroffer, effectively removing the first buyer from the situation. Can Sellers Make Multiple Counteroffers With Multiple Buyers? Depending on your state's laws, a seller may or may not be able to issue multiple counteroffers to more than one buyer. In some areas, sellers can counter more than one offer simultaneously. Each counteroffer can be different in terms and price, too. Generally, most real estate agents do not recommend that sellers make multiple counteroffers at once, as it could lead to two legally binding contracts simultaneously. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) How do I write a good counteroffer? Writing a strong counteroffer can be a matter of having provable, current data. You'll want information at your fingertips regarding what the other party is asking for. Are their cost estimates accurate? Be able to provide documentation to back up your position. What is the typical counteroffer expiration date? The expiration date of a counteroffer can depend on the market at the time. Forty-eight hours is common, but this time frame can be cut in half in a hot market. It's best to respond as quickly as possible. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Houston Association of Realtors. "The Counteroffer: Negotiating A Real Estate Deal." National Association of Realtors. "Considerations for Handling Multiple Offers." Daytona Beach Area Association of Realtors. "Best Practices," Page 8. SoFi. "A Guide to Real Estate Counter Offers."