Managing Multiple Offers

What to do with Multiple Offers to purchase Your Home?

If you receive two or more offers to purchase your property at about the same time (lucky you), and you counter-offer them all, what if two or more accept? You sure can’t sell it to more than one!

The Multiple Counter Offer form provides the means to manage this process. Rarely, the seller may reject one of more of the multiple offers and response to the rest. But normally the seller makes counter offers to all of the offers. The terms in those counter offers are likely to be different because the terms in each offer and the qualifications of each buyer are different.

All buyers could accept their respective counter offer. The seller would then have the choice of which accepted counter to accept as the final purchase contract.

Thus the seller remains in control of the process until he/she makes a final choice. A Multiple Counter Offer situation is not an environment for lightly experienced real estate agents.

On very rare occasions, the housing market is depressed to the point that buyers can effectively make simultaneous offers to purchase more than one property. These are discussed below.

Response Deadline – Typically Ignored

Most offers are submitted with a response deadline of 24 hours, sometime less, because buyers want to establish an accepted Purchase Contract ASAP so the seller cannot sell to another buyer.

When a seller has received multiple offers, this deadline is usually ignored. One of the items the seller will put into the MCO-S form changes this deadline to whatever the seller needs for his/her response.

What Seller needs to Do

And what the seller needs is enough time to thoroughly check each Pre-Qualification form, or Proof of Funds letter for a cash offer, to be sure that the buyer has the financial capacity and liquidity necessary to make the purchase as specified in the buyer’s offer.

A wise seller will do this for all offers before responding to any offer because the checking process could eliminate all but one of the offers, in which case the seller’s response would likely be very different.

Different Buyer – Different Counter

As indicated by the quote above from the MCO-S form, the terms in the MCO-S to each buyer may be different, in fact are likely different because the offers are different and the buyer’s capacities are different. The price, terms, close date, earnest money, etc. … anything … may be different in the respective counter offers.

Consider the Buyer Situation

Sellers need to be very mindful of the anxiety, stress and disappointment that is being felt by every one of those buyers. Many people simply withdraw their offers upon learning of the multiple offer situation, and many (most?) buyers at least consider this.

Upon receipt of the additional offer(s), or learning that more than one is about to be submitted, the seller’s agent is well-advised to immediately call each buyer’s agent to assure them that the seller is “very motivated” to sell the property, will make every effort to respond promptly, etc., to try to minimize the negative reactions and encourage each and every buyer to “hang in there” and have a bit of patience.

Buyer Lender Appraisal – Price Limit

If there’s financing involved in any or all offers, sellers need to also be mindful that “the property must appraise for at least the sale price”. There is a limit even if the buyer seems to be ignoring it.

Of course, the attitudes of the buyer and/or seller can be to push the price, then deal with a low appraisal if that’s the case. NOT a good idea for either side. More often than not, a low appraisal results in the deal “going south”.

Multiple Offers by Buyer

There is also a Multiple Offers process for buyers … and a AAR form Multiple Offer – Counter Offer – Buyer (MCO-B). It’s pretty much the same process except backwards from the outline above – the buyer is making an offer on more than one property but ultimately can only purchase one of them.

Sort of a comical question … what if a multiple offer (MCO-B) is made by a buyer for a property that is receiving multiple offers? This is extremely unlikely. “Multiples” generally occur in one direction or the other when the housing market is steeply changing one way or the other.


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