Sucker Punches

Sucker Punches & Low Ball Offers on Your Real Estate

So there you are minding your business and your agent calls with the great news that you’ve received an offer for your real estate. Hopefully, the offer price isn’t going to sting and leave a mark. If it’s a “low ball offer” bone up on your patience and count to ten before reacting.

A home owner recently asked me, “Where do these buyers get the nerve to come down here and sucker punch home owners with low ball offers? My answer probably wasn’t exactly comforting but an account of what we’ve been dealing with over the last few years.

The economy and real estate continue to be big media’s darling, go-to headline or sound bite. Add to that, the fact that we’re in Florida and one of the crisis states where huge amounts of building and followed by record mortgage defaults occurred. Consumers have no other choice but to think we’re flopping fish on the shore.

While that could have summed up the market a few years ago, it’s not remotely that dire in Southwest Florida these days.

There’s no doubt that there are savvy buyers with the quote of Baron Rothschild echoing in their head, "Buy when blood is running in the streets." There is also the mentality of getting the best possible deal in a market when it’s great to be a buyer and why shouldn’t there be? There’s no crime in buying low or selling high if you have the means or opportunity to do so.

Most sellers, as painful as it is for them to look at the other side of the coin when they’re addressing a low offer, would agree that if they were a buyer they’d be negotiating a hard bargain and making their money going in, too.

The difference between a potential buyer trying to negotiate a good deal and the dreaded low ball offer is motivation and merit. Are the buyers really motivated to buy or are they just throwing out offers to see what the response is? Is there merit to the offer, a complete contract, proof of funds, market analysis that supports their offer price?

We get our fair share of buyers who visit the area and make last ditch, low ball, my plane is leaving in three hours, offers. The offer actually feels odd. Sometimes those offers have to be taken with the seriousness in which it’s delivered. A halfhearted offer gets a halfhearted presentation and a seller who wants to most-heartedly tell a buyer to go pound salt.

A weak offer, including any verbal offer, can be vetted by the listing agent and seller by simply insisting that the proper documentation, addendums, proof of funds or financing to accompany the offer before it’s even presented to the sellers. If it’s too much effort for the buyers or their agent to produce, they’ll bail.

Offers with merit usually have a sense of vitality and are delivered with some sort of presentation, proof of means of payment, thorough paperwork and a glimmer of hope that the buyer is willing to engage in some form of negotiation.

If you’re a seller faced with a low offer, toe the line and ask for all of the proper documentation and make sure the buyer is committed and qualified up front. Why waste time or get bent out of shape over a lackluster offer with an unqualified or uncommitted buyer?

Remember also that not all offers result in an executed contract. Sometimes it’s appropriate to simply thank a buyer and their agent for their interest and invite them to come back with a more robust offer so that you can engage in negotiation.


Real Life in Bonita Springs is a project by Chris Griffith dedicated to writing useful blog posts for consumers about the Bonita Springs, Florida area.  Find out what it is really like to live in Bonita Springs, Florida by reading about our fair city. You’ll get the latest in local real estate information, Bonita Springs real estate market reports and a little bit of humor.  If you have topic ideas, feel free to request a story about the idea, after all, this site is just for you.

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