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How fast should a home seller respond to an offer?

Business people negotiating a contract. Human hands working with documents at desk and signing contract.

If there’s anything that the pandemic-induced real estate buzz has shown us, it’s that homes can sell like hotcakes. With multiple offers coming in left and right, sellers often ask themselves and their agents: how long should I take to respond to an offer?

Let’s break that down and examine a couple of scenarios.

No set rules on when and how to reply

If you’re selling your house, there’s no set rule dictating that you should respond within a particular time frame. It’s generally acceptable to get back to the buyer within a day or two following an offer. The 24 to 48-hour unwritten rule is also considered a standard courtesy.

However, you’re not required to say yes or no to any offer that comes your way. You can acknowledge receipt of the offer, but that’s different from the act of responding.

There are a number of scenarios where you may want to avoid giving a direct answer and focus your energy and attention on other buyers instead:

  • The buyer has put forward a lowball offer
  • The homebuyer is not yet pre-approved for a mortgage.
  • The offer’s suggested moving timeline doesn’t align with your own timeline and interests.
  • Lack of or too little earnest money attached to the offer.

Instances where waiting longer may be warranted

  • Sellers in highly competitive markets usually take a longer time to respond. After all, you do need a lengthy assessment to determine which is the best deal to take, especially when there’s a bidding war among multiple buyers.
  • Some sellers may prefer assessing all offers in one fell swoop. Even if you’re not in a hot market, you do have the option to delay the response to an offer. This gives you the opportunity to show your home to a few more buyers before committing to the most appealing offer. Don’t delay too long though as some buyers may withdraw their offer if they don’t hear back from you soon.
  • Personal circumstances can also affect response time. Big life events (e.g., a family emergency or a divorce) can factor into how quickly you can respond to offers. This is completely normal. You can choose to be upfront with buyers about this if they start asking why it’s taking a bit too long for you to get back to them.
  • Real estate owned by bank (REO) sales inherently take longer. In addition to the seller’s response, the lender must also green light an REO sales transaction. Properties that have been acquired by the bank generally take longer to close since REO teams or departments also have to weigh in on the transaction.

Contact Kathy Seuylemezian for more advice on selling a house

When the offers start coming in, it’s essential to have a real estate agent by your side to help you weigh your options and find the best offer. Work with me, Kathy Seuylemezian, to get the highest price possible on your home. You may reach me at 818.949.5205 or send an email to Kathy(at)imuragent(dotted)com.