Offer Strategies: How long should a home seller wait before accepting an offer?

Taking a cue from local home-selling customs and market conditions can help you secure the best offer on your home. It's also a good idea to create an offer-presentation procedure and schedule with your real estate agent.

Common Practices

Home sellers typically review buyers' offers as soon as they are submitted in writing. And unless you and your agent set a specific date to review all offers at the same time, buyers assume that their offer will be heard right away,

Some home sellers prefer to delay reviewing offers for a week or longer, which enables agents to show the home to a higher number of potential buyers. This tactic can yield multiple offers, but if the seller waits too long, potential buyers may get discouraged and withdraw their offer.

Another approach is to hold off on reviewing offers until after the first public open house is held. Because it's nearly impossible to sell a home for less than market value if it's been publicly advertised, this method can bring sellers the highest price possible for their home.

Market Conditions

Before deciding on a course of action, first consider the dynamics of the real estate market. In active real estate markets where prices rise quickly, the seller will probably have the most success if he or she reviews offers after the open house or sets a specific date to hear all offers at once.

There's no guarantee, however, that waiting to hear offers translates to more offers. There must be a demand for your home and it must be priced at or below market value to generate excitement. Multiple offers build competition among buyers and can result in a home selling above the asking price.

Most agents advise clients to sell their home quickly because a slow-selling home generally brings a lower price.

But if a home is initially priced below the competition, the seller should receive multiple offers that will drive up the price to market value. There is therefore little danger in pricing a home too low - the real danger is in pricing too high, particularly in slower markets.