I once spent half an hour sobbing my heart out after accepting an offer on our property (this was just before I got into real estate).

David, my husband, immediately wanted to call the agent to cancel the sale (it was late at night and the agent hadn’t told the buyer we’d accepted yet). I said no, kept crying, and once done, sat back to try to unpick what was going on.

There was a lot of emotion, particularly grief and guilt, interfering with my ability to make a rational decision.

When emotions are high, intelligence is usually low.

It had been a protracted sale in a back-sliding market. We lost the house we’d initially had a subject sale offer on. We realised we couldn’t afford to move to the suburb we wanted to live in.  We got much less than we’d hoped for on our sale price. We didn’t have a place to move to yet, and I felt guilty for overspending our renovations.

All pretty standard, but at the time challenging stuff. We took the offer (a decent one, in hindsight…), found another property we loved, and moved on with our lives. That move enabled me to start in real estate, and the rest, well, that was over 12 years ago, and here I am now with my own Agency.

Selling is stressful

People generally sell property for one of two reasons – to move to something better or to get away from something bad.

Moving to something better often happens when someone has had a payrise, moves in with a partner, expands their family or decides to seek a different lifestyle. They upgrade to a bigger home, more sought-after suburb, better schools, or a completely different environment.

Something bad is generally when there is a relationship break-up, a death in the family, a job loss or some other negative change in financial and/or personal circumstances.

Even when it’s positive, the sale of a property is laden with emotion and stress. You’re moving from the known to the unknown; the brain likes its comfort zone.

When an offer comes in that’s less, or quicker, than what you expected, and a decision needs to be made, surprise and stress can lead to your fight/flight mechanism kicking in.

A common reaction is to want to put off making a decision (if we wait, we might get more/better offers…) or to fall into the trap of making a decision based on emotions rather than logic.

Before you start considering offers…

Assess your marketing campaign and sales process.

Hopefully, you engaged a professional agent who helped you maximise your property’s presentation, pricing and promotion.

How many home opens have you had? How many groups of buyers have you had through? What’s the response been? What is the feedback from buyers on the property, its location, and its price?

Is your agent trying to ram through a sale too quickly (ie Saturday afternoon after your first home open) or have they let the process percolate to flush out the best buyer?

The hottest response to a newly listed property occurs within the first few days.  By week 2 your home open visits will have halved. By week 3 your campaign is getting tired, and by week 4 you’ve lost most of your negotiation power.

 It’s the buyers, not you or your selling agent, that ultimately determine your properties value.

If there have been genuine shortcomings in your marketing campaign, the agent’s original price guidance or the sales process then maybe, instead of accepting what you think is a low offer, you change agents (after all, why reward someone who’s done a poor job?).

But if you’re telling yourself you’re not in a hurry to sell, don’t need to accept an offer, and can wait for the ‘right’ price, the issue might be your expectations.

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When you get multiple offers…

If you’re in a situation where excellent presentation, strategic pricing and strong marketing and promotion have created lots of interest, buyer competition and multiple offers for your property, congratulations!

If you’re satisfied that the agent has circled back to ALL potential buyers to allow them to submit an offer, and then revise their initial offer to their best and final, you can have every confidence in accepting one.

Look at both price and conditions and quiz your agent about the buyers and their situations before you decide which is the best offer to accept.

A common mistake is for buyers to think that if they string out the process and wait, they’ll get more offers.

Until such time as an offer is accepted it can be withdrawn. If your agent has done the work and your buyers have come to the party with their best and final offers, don’t stuff them around and risk your buyers getting cold feet. Put yourself in the buyers’ shoes, and treat them how you’d like to be treated.

If there’s still a shortfall between what you and the agent, think is fair market value, you’ve got options. Either negotiate with the best buyer or go back to all the buyers with your price expectations and see if anyone steps up to the mark.

If the offers are above your advertised price however, and you’re not willing to accept any of them, your agent must revise the advertised price to something you would genuinely consider (if you have no price, like Expressions of Interest, you’re in the clear). If you do have an advertised price, and it needs to be revised upwards, it won’t be a good look for your campaign.

When you’ve got one offer…

If your campaign hasn’t gone as expected, interest has been low or petered off, you’ve had a great response but only received one offer, or you have received an offer for less than what you expected, what do you do?

Essentially you’ve got three potential responses: accept the offer, reject it, or counter offer.

Before you decide which one to do, consult with your agent and ask yourself one or more of the following questions:

  • What would it allow you to do if you had this money in your pocket right now? Is that a better position to be in than where you are now?
  • What would you save if you had this money in your pocket right now? (ie mortgage payments, stress etc).
  • If you don’t take this offer now, what might it cost you? (not just in terms of money, consider all life factors too)
  • What would you genuinely pay for your property if you had to buy it yourself? (be honest on this – sometimes we expect our own home to be an exception and sell for a premium, yet expect the seller of a property we want to buy to be realistic and meet the market)
  • If your property doesn’t sell, what will you do? What’s your plan B? What are the costs/benefits associated with that decision? Is it worth it?

Hopefully, these will help guide you to the right decision.

If you’re not ready to sell for what the market says your property is worth, consider taking it off and retrying in a year or two. Staying on the market will likely damage the property in the eyes of buyers (who have long memories) and/or result in you eventually being undersold.

It’s not your home you’re selling; it’s an asset

The more you love your home, the harder it can be to let go.

It can be helpful to think of it this way – it’s not your home that you’re selling; it’s an asset – a commodity like any other. Your home is where you and your family, pets, or spirit are – you’re not leaving your home behind – it’s with you. The hardest part of selling is making a decision, once it’s made, we tend to get on with it.

If you’re selling for a loss, forgive and remind yourself that financial losses can be learnt and recovered from – it’s only money. In most cases, it pays to bite the bullet, accept an offer, and move on.

I’ve made some terrible personal property decisions in my life trying to avoid a loss, but I am a better investor (and agent) for them.

It’s your call

Ultimately, the decision to sell or not should always be yours. Don’t be bullied into one. There’s no turning back once an offer is accepted and signed off.

My position is that all my clients are adults; it’s their home, not mine, and whether they sell or not won’t change my life. If they choose to reject what I think is a cracking offer – that’s their prerogative.

I’ll give my opinion, but it’s their call. Hopefully, what I can do, is help make it an informed one.