The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA) is committed to working solely for real estate buyers. Towards that goal, our brokers and agents want you to purchase your home for the best possible price.

However, it is possible to make an offer that is too low. You risk insulting the seller and not receiving a counteroffer.

There is an art and a science to constructing an offer, particularly a lowball offer; here are some suggested guidelines:

Assess the Market

You have to know whether or not it is a buyer’s or seller’s market. There are many helpful resources that anyone with Internet access can reference. The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices measures home prices nationally and in 20 metropolitan regions.

Publications like this give a good indicator of the recent past, but, you’re a certified Buyer Agent provides immeasurable help in assessing the real-time conditions.

Investigate for Special Circumstances

Your Exclusive Buyer’s Agent can work to discover the Seller’s true motivations. If there are special circumstances, such as a divorce or estate sale, this might provide you with a negotiating advantage.

In other situations, the property might need work. In this case, your offer should reflect the repair costs.

Back Up Your Statements with Facts

You need to back up your offer with facts. For instance, if the listing price is 20% more than recent comparable sales, you should have your agent emphasize this point. In other situations, if the property is on the market for a long time, the sellers may be asking too much.

Your offer should reflect the current market reality. The process should never become antagonistic, however. Sellers are more open to working with people they like.

Cash is Still King

Sellers are still receptive to all-cash offers. Even though a lender may have pre-approved your mortgage, it still presents a degree of uncertainty and all-cash deals can close quicker.

In these cases, you can negotiate a discount, perhaps up to 20% off the listing price.

Simple is Always Better

The less complicated your offer, the better. Sellers and listing agents are not likely to take your offer seriously if it is full of contingencies and unreasonable demands.


In a foreclosure situation, you are dealing with the lender. In this case, there is not emotional connection, and you need not worry about insulting the seller.

In this case, the bank usually wants to get rid of the property, and you can receive a very good price. There are a couple of caveats, though. The process is typically drawn out and you could find yourself competing with savvy buyers.

How low can I go?

While there is no definitive answer, you should never make an offer too far below the current market price. For instance, a 50% discount off the listing price is not realistic, but receiving 20% off could work. If the list price is well above recent comps, you can make your case.

However, you are unlikely to have your offer accepted if you offer 20% below the list price just because you have decided you want to play hardball. It is also not compelling to say your offer is all you can afford.

You know your initial offer is at least in the ballpark if the sellers have a counter-offer. If they have gone as far as they can on price, you can negotiate other items, such as having them pay part of the closing costs.

Let an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent help you achieve the lowest price possible on your new home. Review our list of agents today.