7 Reasons Your Offer On A House Was Declined

offer on a house declined- Tewksbury Real Estate

Along the route of your home buying journey, you may be in a situation where you have one or more offers on a house declined or countered offered.   Even worse you may have multiple houses you made an offer on rejected and sold to another buyer.  And now in 2021 your in a hot mark

Remember, while you can have an offer flat out rejected, in effect, a counter offer is a rejection as well.  With a counter offer from the seller, the seller is rejecting your offer and indicating terms that they may accept.

When you buy a TV or a computer the price is the price, period.  You don’t go into Best Buy and try to negotiate a price on a surround sound.  It is what it is.  Take it or leave it.

But for whatever reason most home buyers and sellers go into the process thinking there will be at least some negotiating price, condition and terms of a real estate purchase. If a sellers terms are not met exactly as they want the first time around,  you can pretty much expect a rejection or a counter offer.

It is just the nature of the business of real estate. 

The Anatomy of an Offer

An offer is made up of several components.  While many buyers focus on getting the best price possible, there are several other components that can be very important to a home seller, as well as yourself.  Let’s look at all the component of an offer and I will star the components that could impact the whether your offer is declined.

  1. The Parties-  Most contract state the parties names of the buyer and seller.  Otherwise a contract cannot be enforced if it is not known who the parties are that are involved in the contract.
  2. Description of the Property-  Usually just the address of the property will suffice.
  3. Price and Deposits*-  This spells out the price you are willing to pay and the good faith deposit you are willing to tender to bind the offer.
  4. Terms*-  Terms are how you and when you expect  the property to be delivered, like closing date, what appliances are staying etc…
  5. Conditions*- Are thing that need to happen for you to purchase as well as a date of when the terms are to be satisfied.  Almost every offer contains a mortgage contingency or home inspection contingency, which would be considered conditions.

The Denial Or Rejection Of An Offer

There are two responses that can happen when a seller rejects your offer on a home.

The first is they can flat out deny your offer, basically shutting the door on your face.  Usually this is telling you we are too far apart and we can’t come to terms.

Or, alternatively they can counter offer you.  A counter offer is saying to you, I reject your offer but I will accept this offer.

Don’t forget a counter isn’t about price only, a seller can counter terms and conditions as well.  Anything in a contract is negotiable.

For many buyers and sellers there can be a lot of angst in the negotiating process, with each party trying to protect their best interest in the process.

7 Reasons Why Your Offer May Be Declined By A Home Seller

Sometimes you are just taking a chance and you know why an offer was declined on a house.  Other times you may think you put in a great offer yet your offer was still declined and it leaves you scratching your head.

Here are the top reason why your offer on a home was declined.

Your Offer Price Is Too Low

Many home buyers feel like they need to negotiate hard on a home and get the best price possible.   But in doing so often a buyer will seriously low ball an offer.

But there are risks to low balling an offer if you are truly interested in a home. The risk is you lose the property.  Your probably looked at many of homes and spent a few months finding one you like. Is it worth losing over a few thousand dollars?  There is certainly a fine balance to be had.

The best advice I can give you, is understand the homes current market value and current real estate market conditions.  Negotiate price based on fair market value and not on trying to steal the property with a ridiculous low ball offer.

If your not willing to meet the sellers price and terms at least start negotiations where you believe you can get a reasonable counter offer and get negotiations started.

Your Financing Is Weak

A mortgage pre-approval letter is a must when buying a home.  Most sellers will require one upon the submission of an offer.  It typically spells out the maximum you are approved for as well the details of your down payment an how much you are borrowing.

A good pre-approval will also state that a preliminary review has been done of credit, income documents and asset documents.  And to take it even further the loan officer may have already run it through desktop underwriting and received an approved/eligible finding.

Often home buyer’s do not understand the importance of a good pre-approval, where non of the information has been verified by the loan officer.  

A seller wants to be confident that you can close on the purchase and have the finances behind it.

Your Good Faith Deposit Is Too Low

Your good faith deposit binds your offer.  It tells the seller your serious and you are willing to tie up some money.  

While there is nothing set in stone, buyers typically put down 3-5% of the purchase price.  No seller wants to take there home off the market for little or no money as a deposit.

If you are not willing to put down a serious deposit with a contact a seller may not take your offer seriously.  A good faith deposit is putting your money where your mouth is.

The Closing Date Does Not Fit The Sellers Timeline To Close

Part of an offer is when you want to take possession of the home. Does your timeline to posses a home fit the sellers timeline to vacate?

Sometimes sellers are waiting for other housing to be available or a home may need to go through probate court before it can be sold.  Whatever the reason the seller needs to be ready willing and able to turn a home over on the date that you have proposed in a contract.

Your Contingencies/Conditions Don’t Work For The Seller

It is common practice to see a mortgage contingency or a home inspection contingency in a contract.  And, as long as the dates are kept reasonable most sellers will accept a standard mortgage or home inspection contingency.

But anything can be a contingency.  Another common one is a buyer wants time to sell their house,  or they are waiting for funds to arrive, etc… 

A contingency that you need in a contract is asking a seller to take their home off the market with out an absolute guarantee you will close on time or at all. 

The more complex your contingencies the more likely a seller will decline your offer.  In their mind, they would rather hold out for an offer with no contingencies.

Think very carefully if a contingency is absolutely necessary.

Your Terms Are Unacceptable

Beyond the price you offer and the conditions you propose there maybe terms in your contract that the seller is unwilling to accept. 

Typical terms that a home buyer may expect in a contract could be certain personal items are left behind or home repairs to be completed.  While it may be typical for a buyer and seller to negotiate appliances, it is far less common for buyers to expect personal items like furniture or decor to be left behind in the sale.

I can even go as far to say asking for personal items above and beyond appliances can be a source of contention for a seller.  You do not want to demand a dining room table that is a family heirloom form grandma to remain with the home.  You can certainly offend the seller.

The other thing to remember is if you are insisting certain repairs are done and it is obvious as you view the home, those repairs are generally taken into consideration when the house is being priced.

You Were Competing With Multiple Offers

The past couple of years across most of the country it has been a strong seller’s market.  With a seller’s market you may just be one offer of many that a seller is reviewing.

If your offer is one of several and it gets declined it is probably because your price, terms and conditions were not as good as someone else’s.

You failed to step up to the plate, when someone else was willing to do so.

offer on a house declined Massachusetts Buyers Agent

6 Tips On Getting Your Offer Accepted

A whole article could be written on getting your offer accepted.  But here are a few tips to prevent your offer from being rejected.

Use Past Sales History

A price for a home is not determined willy nilly.  Recent, past sales of similar homes will indicate fair market value of a home.  

Say if past sales clearly indicate a fair market value of $450k to $475k on a home priced at $480k, it would be ridiculous to offer 10’s of thousand of dollars less that $450k and expect to have great success. 

Choose a reasonable offer price based upon recent sales data.

Understand Current Market Conditions

Current market conditions will help you structure an offer that is accepted or requires very little negotiating.  

In a strong seller’s market it is almost impossible to think you will get a deep discount on a property with terms and conditions outside the norm.  The seller will be, step aside, there are plenty of buyers behind you.

Alternately, in a buyer’s market, you are in the drivers seat and it is more likely for you to get price, terms and conditions that favor you.

Trying to negotiate like you hold all the cards in a seller’s market is like a fish trying to swim upstream.

Get Properly Pre-approved

Looking at houses is fun, getting pre-approved is not.  But do yourself a favor and talk to a mortgage officer and get a proper pre-approval upfront.   This means having your loan officer personally review documents regarding income, credit and assets. 

Sellers want to know you will close in a timely manner with few hassles.

Understand Your Seller’s Needs

If it all possible have your buyer’s agent reach out to the selling party and find out what they are looking for as far as closing date and their flexibility with any unique terms or conditions you or they are maybe seeking.

If you can give the home seller what they want in one aspect of the contract, it can pave the way of getting what you want in another aspect of the contract. 

Keep Your Terms And Conditions Reasonable

The cleaner you can make an offer the better.  Know what is standard and typical in your area for contingencies closing times, good faith deposit money, etc…

Obviously a seller would love a full price offer with no contingencies and a short closing date.  The closer you can get to that the more likely it will be your seller will accept you offer off the bat rather than rejecting and countering.

Time Is Of The Essence

It is understandable a home buyer wants to get the best price, terms and conditions possible on a home. But as I said before, its a balancing act.

When making an offer on a home, it is important to realize that the longer you drag out negotiations, until you can finally put an offer together that is accepted, another home buyer can steal the house out from underneath you.

It is important to wrap up negotiations quickly on a home you are truly interested in so this does not happen to you.  Letting negotiations drag on for days or even weeks is not in your best interest and can lead to wasted time and disappointment.

I can’t tell you how many home buyers are shocked when they lose a house to another buyer because they dragged their feet on negotiating an offer on a home. 

An offer is only binding when it is signed by all parties and all parties are aware that it is signed.  It is important to react quickly after getting a rejection or counteroffer on a home. 


Careful thought should be put into your offer.  Offers are structured around more than just price.  If you can take the time try to understand your seller’s needs.

Most likely your first offer will be rejected.  It just part of buying a house.  Remember a counter offer is a rejection.  The seller is rejecting your offer and proposing an offer they would accept.

Think about what is important to you and try to wrap up negotiations quickly.  Just because you have submitted an offer it does not mean they won’t negotiate with other buyers simultaneously.

Other Real Estate Negotiating Resources:

This article, 7 Reasons Your Offer On A House Was Declined, was provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Group One Real Estate. I have helped 100’s of home buyers and sellers over the years and am confident my experience and skills can make purchasing your next home a pleasant experience. Please feel free to reach me at 978-360-0422 to discuss your upcoming purchase.