Pen and edited text with the words - Can you change your offer? With multiple offer situations in Silicon Valley real estate bids, sometimes buyers write an offer and later decide that it’s too much or too little, or that some other change is warranted (before it’s submitted).  Can you change your purchase offer after it’s written, or is it a “done deal” once you’ve signed it?

The good news is that you can change your offer before it has been given to the listing agent / sellers. Many buyers do, either because they changed their mind or strategy, or because they just got new information. What is key is circling back to your buyer agent quickly, before the email is sent.

Why would you change your purchase offer?

Awhile back, some of my buyers were bidding on a San Jose home. As I asked the listing agent more questions and we got a little more information from that agent on the numbers of offers being received, my clients wanted to improve their offer. We redid page 1 of the contract, which is where all the financial basics are listed. Their improved offer went to the listing agent and it was seamless.

At other times, even after the offer is submitted, I have had buyers ask to improve their offer. The pages of the contract which were involved in the change were redone, signed and resubmitted. This is a bit like going through the counter offer process yourself.

How do you know if you should increase your bid or otherwise change your purchase offer  after you’ve signed it?  Here are some thoughts:

  • If the number of contracts is much higher or lower, you may raise or lower your sales price (before seen by listing agent and seller is best, especially if lowered!)
  • If the listing agent provides feedback that the home is not going to sell below a particular threshold, but your offer is less, you might want to revisit your price (and the listing agent will be fine if the edit to your bid means a higher price)
  • If you learn that the seller desperately needs a longer escrow for some reason, but you have a shorter one and can accommodate that, don’t wait for a counter offer – you may not get it! Change your purchase offer to make it more appealing.

There are some agents out there who play games to try to up the price for their sellers.  Although their intentions are good, the method isn’t.  An example is “The Wince”.  I had an agent do this to me once – presented a super clean, strong, over list price offer on his Cambrian listing to him.  He looked at it and winced, as if to say “this offer is so terrible it’s hurting me”.  Although some real estate trainers teach this kind of thing, it’s in poor form; you never know if you are just being played.  (We are required to treat all parties with fair and honest dealing.  Winces somehow don’t seem to feel like they are in that arena.)  If the offer is low, and the listing agent wants to get the buyers to improve their offer, he or she should simply indicate that the home is unlikely to sell below a certain price point.

Many home buyers assume that they will get an opportunity to be competitive when they get a counter offer.  Some sellers really do not like negotiating, though, and won’t counter for that reason. Some look at the set of competitive bids and just pick the best one, grateful that they do not have to risk losing all of the buyers by issuing a counter or multiple counter offer.  And sometimes one offer is just so strong that there’s nothing to fix, nothing to counter – so it just gets a straight acceptance.

If you really want the house or condo, when bidding on the home make sure you and your agent pay good attention to what’s happening in the process.  Sometimes a small adjustment to your offer, which you make before the sellers decide what to do, makes all the difference in the world. Be open to making a change in your contract if it will increase your odds of success.


Related reading:

Real estate negotiations: it’s not all business

How to write your initial deposit check, or good faith deposit check, all wrong