Unlock the Log Jam with Reverse Offers

In my blog from last week, “It’s Only a Buyer’s Market if you buy,” I talked about things that the real estate community can do to unlock buyer’s fears about buying at this time. Those who read that post will recall that I argued through all of the reasons why current conditions offer historically positive buying opportunities. Yet, there are other things that real estate professionals can also do to help sellers move properties, many of which have been for sale for many months, even years.

It is time to throw off traditional ideas about how offers should be made and contracts should be negotiated. Historically, buyers have always been the ones taking the first step in the “offering” process. That is, buyers spend time looking at homes and considering their options until that moment when everything comes together in their minds and they decide to put an offer in writing. This traditional process tends to follow fairly predictable steps as noted below.


  • Buyer “makes an offer.”
  • Buyer typically offers a lower-than-asking price
  • Sellers typically negotiates by counter-offering with a new price and the parties gradually come together

Over the past year, the problem has been that buyers have become indecisive to the point of inertia and this traditional offering process has become bogged down and even completely stalled in many cases. Fear does this and it is our job to combat this fear.

So why not take a different approach. Why not have motivated seller’s present offers to interested buyers? This may sound a bit bizarre but let’s follow the idea through. In the traditional model, buyers tend to present an offer, which in most cases is lower than a seller wants to accept. With the aid of real estate professionals, the parties negotiated terms and conditions, usually resulting in a higher price that was originally presented.

So why couldn’t we simply reverse the process?


  • Seller’s agent presents an offer to a qualified buyer who has expressed interest in their property
  • The seller presents a price that is acceptable to them and, in all likelihood, one that is higher than the buyer ultimately wants to pay
  • The negotiations that follow simply take a reverse approach whereby the buyer then “counters” the offer with an adjusted and likely lower price and the negotiation is off to the races.
  • The end result is that a ‘ready willing and able buyer’ and a ‘motivated seller’ have come to a meeting of the minds and that is all that matters. The technique used in getting the results is purely incidental.

The advantages here are many, but reverse offers mostly help to unlock the log jam of indecision that buyers experience in economic times like these. Reverse offers show the buyer that the seller is serious about selling and captures the buyer’s curiosity.  It provides a “pattern interrupt” from an overused traditional method of negotiating and causes the buyer to look at negotiations differently. In markets like we now have, we need fresh ideas and novel approaches. It is the job of real estate professionals to innovated new methods and thereby assists buyers and sellers in getting what they really want, which is simply to move affordably.

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