What to do when a seller rejects your offer

Analyst: Buy a Home Now Before Prices Move Higher
Analyst: Buy a Home Now Before Prices Move Higher

Searching for a home can be similar to searching for true love. You may meet many prospects before you find the one. And sometimes, you may long for a prospect more than he or she longs for you.

The same holds true with homes. But homes don't have feelings - their sellers do. And it's these sellers you must grapple with before making the love connection. If you've fallen in love with a home, made the best offer and the seller won't cooperate, you might find yourself trying to figure out what to do.

There's no policy or decree that says the seller must accept your offer, no matter how great it is relative to the market. Unlike a retail business that prices products based on inventory levels and market conditions, each seller is independent and has different selling motivations.

Here are three ways to cope with a seller who's keeping you from your dream home.

1. Don't waste time over-analyzing the seller

It's easy to obsess over the possible reasons why the seller rejected your offer. You could spend hours looking up a home's sales history and tax records, then combining that data with the information you received from the sellers' agent about their situation or motivations.

Don't do it. Trying to figure out the seller won't get you anywhere. Worse, the time spent attempting to get inside the head of someone you don't know is precious time spent away from your home search. If the sellers "just aren't that into you," it may be time to move on. For all you know, like that elusive crush, they will come back once you pull away. Just don't count on it.

2. Put your best offer on the table

Maybe you haven't offered the maximum you can afford yet, wanting to keep some room for negotiation. If you find that the sellers aren't responding positively to your offers so far, it could be a sign that they are not motivated to sell. Just because you're a real and active buyer wanting to purchase their house doesn't mean they have to accept your offer.

If they're not responding, or they come back with a not-so-great counteroffer, cut to the chase. Make your maximum offer immediately and put it in writing. Then, if they still don't respond, start looking elsewhere.

3. Put the home behind you

Because purchasing a home can be both practical and emotional, it's easy for a buyer (particularly a new one) to get hung up on one house and have trouble moving on. But this can only keep you from getting the house you want. To be a savvy buyer, consider each experience and the lessons learned. Chalk up unrealistic or unmotivated sellers to experience. Use that to your advantage the next time you make an offer.

At the closing table weeks or months down the road, you'll likely look back on that home you "had to have" and realize that the home you ended up with is much better in the long run. Never forget that, no matter how much you believe this one was meant for you, there will always be another great house.

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Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.