Buying a Home in Oakland County MI: Responding to A Counteroffer 

Buying a Home in Farmington Hills MI: Responding to A Counteroffer

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Buying a Home in Oakland County MI: Responding to A Counteroffer 

When buying a home in Oakland County MI, the stakes are high for both the person buying the home and for the seller. Hence, it may take some negotiating to reach an agreement that both the buyer and the seller are happy with. Of course, the optimum scenario would be to submit an offer on a home you love and the seller accepts it with no conditions. However, it’s more common, that the seller will respond to an offer with a counteroffer, which means they are open to starting the negotiation process.  In real estate terms, this is appropriately referred to as the seller-to-buyer counteroffer. 

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’s no limit to the number of counteroffers that can go back and forth. If either party does not agree to the terms, the offer becomes void, and the buyer and seller go their separate ways with no further obligation. 

Responding to a counteroffer

A counteroffer changes one or more aspects of your original offer, and basically, you have three options for responding. You can either accept the seller’s counteroffer, reject the counteroffer or present a counteroffer of your own.

If you decide to continue negotiations, know your options such as how much you can spend, whether there are (or will be) similar properties to bid on, and what you are willing to concede – whether that’s contingencies or repairs you were previously set on.  

Also, consider how you can make the deal smoother for the seller, which may help push your offer through. For example, how quickly is the seller looking to close and can you agree on that? Have they already bought a new house? Do they want reassurance that their childhood home will be well-loved?  

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Find out what the seller’s motivations are – financial, emotional, logistical – and create a counteroffer that is in alignment with your own priorities. The seller’s motivations may become apparent with their first counteroffer and your counter may address some but not all of the seller’s concerns.

Commonly negotiated aspects of home buying 

With homebuying, everything is negotiable from repairs and closing costs to furniture and appliances. Some of the most commonly negotiated aspects of homebuying include the purchase price, closing costs, closing date, contingencies, earnest money deposit, and personal property. Offers and counteroffers can negotiate on a mix of these factors:

Purchase price 

Your pre-approval letter from your lender will tell you the maximum you can pay for a property, but you may not need to increase the price up to your limit. Your Farmington Hills MI REALTORⓇ will be able to advise you on what makes the most sense for your budget and the local market. The sale price is the most commonly changed item in the seller-to-buyer counter offer.

The seller might change this number in one of two ways. They might offer a price that is somewhere in between your offer and the original asking price or counter back with their original asking price, which means they are not willing to negotiate on price. But if they give you a counteroffer below the original list price, the negotiations are on. You can then choose to accept the seller’s proposal or make another counter offer back to them.

Closing costs 

The closing costs, which include insurance, title fees, taxes, and appraisals, are often the most negotiated line item between buyers and sellers. Closing costs can add up to as much as 5% of your total loan amount.  The seller’s counteroffer might address any contributions toward closing costs.

For example, you ask them to cover $6,000 worth of your closing costs, which is a common strategy in a buyers market. The seller might simply say no to this request. They could also agree to contribute $6,000 toward your closing costs while increasing the sale price by $6,000 – allowing you to finance your closing costs into the loan.

Closing date  

This is the date that you get the keys to the home. In a counteroffer, the seller might make changes to the closing date. Maybe they need more time to pack up and move, so they sign a counteroffer back to you proposing a 45-day escrow period. As the buyer, you can accept it or not. In most cases, the buyer will accept the seller’s proposed changes to the closing date, if it’s not a big difference


If the provisions aren’t met, contingencies let you back out of a contract. A seller can reject or modify the contingencies, or conditions for the purchase, that you included in your offer. A home appraisal, obtaining financing, home inspection, and home sale are all examples of contingencies:

  • An appraisal contingency protects the buyer and is used to ensure a property is valued at a minimum, specified amount. 
  • A financing contingency gives the buyer time to obtain financing for the purchase of the property.
  • An inspection or a due diligence contingency gives the buyer the right to have the home inspected within a specified time period.
  • A home sale contingency gives the buyer a specified amount of time to sell and settle their existing home to finance the new one.

Before you consider dropping contingencies, be sure to speak with your Oakland County MI real estate agent about the possible risks. Sellers almost always accept the home-inspection contingency, as well as the financing contingency because they know that most buyers will refuse to move forward without those contingencies.

Earnest money deposit 

The earnest money deposit – also referred to as good faith money – is the sum you put down with your offer to show the seller you are a serious buyer. The earnest money deposit applies toward your down payment or closing costs. While the buyer and seller can negotiate the earnest money deposit, it often ranges between 1% and 2% of the home’s purchase price, depending on the market.

The earnest money deposit might range between 5% and 10% of a property’s sale price in a hot housing market. Some sellers prefer a fixed amount, such as $5,000 or $10,000. Of course, the higher the earnest money amount, the more serious the seller is likely to consider the buyer.

Therefore, a buyer should offer a high enough earnest deposit to be accepted, but not one so high as to put extra money at risk. Earnest money is always returned to the buyer if the seller terminates the deal.

Personal property 

A refrigerator, washer, and dryer set, and other appliances may be included in a home sale, but if they’re not, ask for them. The same goes for furniture and other personal belongings. The structure, fixtures, outbuildings, and anything attached to the land is included in the sale and is considered the “real property.”  

Negotiate with the market in mind

How you negotiate the seller’s counteroffer will depend on the type of market you’re in. Do you know if the seller has multiple offers on the house? If they do, you need to tread carefully. In a hot seller’s market, the seller’s counter may come with an unofficial “take it or leave it” clause. 

How is a counteroffer accepted?

The buyer can simply accept the counteroffer and deliver it back signed to the seller and their agent. Time is of the essence here as all counteroffers include 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, which is another reason to act quickly when a counteroffer is on the table. 

If the seller receives a more favorable offer while the buyer is deciding, the seller will typically withdraw the counteroffer, effectively removing the first buyer from the situation.  

The bottom line

The counter-offer process in real estate is more art than science. Look at what motivates the other person, get all the information you can about your alternatives, and look for a middle ground that still meets all of your priorities. Also, don’t believe an agent who tells you the seller will always counter the offer. Even if the seller does, you can still lose the house if the home is still getting showings. 

Partner With Oakland County MI REALTOR® – Tom Gilliam

REALTOR® – Tom Gilliam is your expert to buy or sell your home in Oakland County, Michigan – the Oakland County community’s number one REALTOR®.  In Oakland County, MI, you need to find an experienced agent who knows the community.

Tom currently lives in the Oakland County area and is very familiar with the local market, neighborhoods, schools, and community issues. His office is located in the heart of Farmington Hills, with five additional offices throughout the southeast metropolitan area.

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Tom is always ready to help families find the perfect home in the Oakland County area they want to live, whether it’s Farmington Hills, Novi, Birmingham, Troy, Rochester Hills, West Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, Ferndale, Royal Oak, Northville, Novi, Troy, Rochester, or Rochester Hills.

Give Tom Gilliam – “Your number one Oakland County Michigan REALTOR®” – a call today!

Tom Gilliam, REALTOR®
RE/MAX Classic
29630 Orchard Lake Rd.
Farmington Hills 48334
Direct: 248-790-5594
Office: 248-737-6800
License #314578