When you’re trying to buy a house, you want the seller to like you and your offer. But when sellers have the upper hand and sometimes multiple offers to choose from, it’s easier to scare them off than you might think. In the spirit of October and all things Halloween, let’s take a look at a few ways buyers can “spook” sellers.

Lack of Mortgage Pre-Approval

You should absolutely, positively, without any excuses be pre-approved for a mortgage before you start the house hunting process. In fact, many real estate agents won’t agree to show you any homes until you have that pre-approval letter in hand. It shows them that you’re not wasting your time or theirs, and it shows sellers that you’re serious about buying. Submit an offer without showing a copy of that pre-approval letter, and the seller will be spooked for sure.

A Dubious Mortgage Lender

If you want to inspire confidence in a seller, don’t use a less-than-reputable lender. It’s comforting to see the name of a well-known lender or bank on a pre-approval letter. If the seller sees the name of some financial institution or website they’ve never heard of, they might wonder if your pre-approval is authentic.

A Lowball Offer

Making an offer that’s much lower than the asking price is a red flag to most sellers. Any smart seller will have a good Realtor® on their side. That Realtor® is a pro at pricing homes appropriately based on a comparative market analysis. It might seem to you that a lowball offer just lowers the jumping-off point for negotiations. But in a lot of cases, it can hurt you more than help you. Many sellers won’t even entertain lowball offers or attempt to negotiate. They’ll simply say “no thanks” and move on, and you’ll risk losing the home to another buyer.

Too Many Contingencies

There are many types of contingencies, all of which exist to protect the parties in a real estate transaction. It’s fine—in fact, it’s pretty much expected—to include a few contingencies, such as your ability to obtain financing and the completion of a satisfactory home inspection. But once you start adding all manner of contingencies to your offer, the seller might wonder why you need so many possible “outs.” If you’re serious about buying a house, consider the number and types of contingencies you include carefully.

Too Many Repairs

We’ve seen this one happen more times than we can count. Buyers get their home inspection report back and present the seller with a laundry list of fixes they want them to take care of. It’s more than okay to ask the seller to repair big ticket items, but don’t expect them to fix every little thing on the list.

Requesting Personal Items

Asking the seller for the painting on the dining room wall or a piece of furniture that fits the living room just right could creep them out a little bit. It’s reasonable to ask that the seller throw in a fridge or light fixture in the sale of a home, but there’s a line you shouldn’t cross when making an offer. You can always as later on down the road if they’d be willing to include the item you have your eye on, but never do so when making your initial offer.


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