Understanding making a “low ball” offer.making a low ball offer

Making a low ball offer is described as: verb: low ball : offer a deceptively or unrealistically low estimate, bid, etc.

When purchasing a house, buyers will frequently attempt to offer significantly lower than the sellers listing price. This can be done for a few reasons. Sometimes the seller is under pressure to make a quick sale. A low ball offer with the right contingencies could motivate a seller to get the deal closed. Other times, the offer is made, never expecting a seller to accept. Buyers are looking to negotiate.

Don’t insult the seller!

Making a low offer is fine, providing you don’t insult the seller. Selling a home is an emotional experience. Just think about all the time and effort the seller has put into creating a home and a life in the house you want to buy. They may be a least a little if not very attached to the place. Now imagine a buyer comes along and tells them they’ll give them 30% less than what they believe their home is worth. Nothing says they have to accept any offer from you – ever. Meaning that if your offer suddenly goes up to full price, they have the right to decline accepting it. Insulting the seller with your “valuation” of their home could have consequences.

If you discuss a low ball offer with your Realtor and they agree it’s a good strategy, be prepared:

Make as few contingencies as possible!

Keep the process as smooth as possible. The less fuss, the better. Don’t expect repairs to be made by the seller. If they accept your low offer, you’ll likely have enough money to make the repairs yourself. That doesn’t mean you should skip getting a home inspection. You’re still going to need to know what you’re getting in to!

Make a cash offer if you can

If you are absolutely sold on the house, and can afford to, make a cash offer. This gives the seller the confidence that you’re not a “financing fall-through” risk. Typically it means a faster closing on the sale. A cash offer can be closed in the time it takes to get clear title, insurance and paperwork in order. Involving a bank requires approvals, inspections, valuations, more approvals etc. Then, the clear title, insurance and paperwork. It’s easy to see why skipping a mortgage is easier. If you can’t afford to make a cash offer, make sure you have every financing detail in order before you make the offer.

Let the seller see how much you want the property

Sometimes a seller can be enticed into working with you for emotional reasons. Letting the seller see how much you really want the property can be helpful. Don’t tell the seller see how many great changes you intend to make. Consider writing an offer letter. An offer letter gives you the opportunity to “plead your case.” Tell them a little about yourself and why you’re so interested in their home. Create a sense of common ground by pointing out all the things you love about the place. You may be surprised at the good will a few kind words can generate.

Be prepared to lose the house

Giving a low ball offer to a seller is a risk. It doesn’t matter how much you want the place, if a seller doesn’t want to make a deal based on the price you offer, there won’t be a deal. Check with your Realtor to make sure you’re understanding all the ins and outs of what you’re attempting to do. Understand the actual market value of the home in question. Your offer may create an opportunity to negotiate. The bottom line is – be prepared that you may have to walk away if your offer is off-putting.


If you or someone you know is considering buying or selling a house – give the Watts Realty Team a call at 269-488-1530.

We will be happy to help!

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