From first offer to the 'sold' sign on the facade: these are the rules
Your house is for sale and the first viewings have been scheduled. Now comes the time when you or your sales agent will negotiate with prospective buyers. What rules actually apply to that?
The negotiation process: it’s an issue he gets a lot of calls about, says André de la Porte of the Home Owners Association. ‘Especially in the overheated market of the Randstad, excitement arises quite often among buyers if the negotiation does not go as they expect or hope. But: there is no kind of legal process laid down that states how you should negotiate.’ So 9 out of 10 times the seller is in his right when he rejects an offer, even if it comes from the first party.
Risk of an angry buyer
“A sale is not final until the purchase agreement is signed,” says Roeland Kimman of the Dutch Association of Realtors. ‘By law, this must be done in writing.’ After that, there is still 3 days of legal reflection time for the buyer: they may still cancel the sale without reason. That cooling-off period starts when the buyer receives a copy of the signed purchase agreement.
As a seller, you can verbally agree a deal with a buyer and agree to sign the papers (the purchase agreement, that is) 2 days later. But: a sales agent may continue viewings if an offer is already being negotiated. This is because a negotiation does not always lead to a sale. Indeed, the sales agent may also negotiate with several potential buyers at the same time. As long as he is honest about it to those potential buyers.
If you, the seller, receive a higher offer in the meantime, you are free to accept it. Although then you do run the risk of an angry – because rejected – buyer. The only rule that a seller or selling broker really has to abide by is that they cannot inflate the price. “A sales agent should never say to a buyer, ‘There’s already an offer from so many, if you don’t bid over that, it stops,'” Kimman says. “He may well say, ‘Your offer is too low.’ For the sales broker, it’s ultimately about getting the best deal for his client – the seller. The amount of the bid does not have to be the most important thing. Also consider conditions such as delivery and handover.’
‘Be honest and sincere as a salesperson’
‘As a seller, you have the right of award,’ André de de la Porte says of this. ‘Suppose you are selling an apartment – then you may find it important that the buyer is a good fit in the owners’ association.’ As a seller, you are under no obligation to sell your home to the highest or first bidder. And even if you are already in negotiations, you are free to stop them and accept the offer of a new candidate or raise (or lower) the asking price in the interim. In doing so, you can of course choose to have the buyers of the opening bid make a counteroffer.
It’s only fair and honest if you and your sales agent are transparent about the sales process. ‘Say for example: this week the viewings are this week, Friday 5 p.m. at the latest bids can be submitted to the sales broker and then we choose the best suitable offer,’ André de la Porte said. In practice, he sees it getting a little more mixed up. ‘As a seller, you can hold off the decision moment until you are sure you have really interested buyers in front of you.’
It is the most important thing he insists on, Kimman said. ‘Whether you let buyers bid online, by bill at the realtor’s office or whether you meet with 4 buyers: be honest and sincere as a seller. As long as you clearly state the process then the process by which you sell the house doesn’t even matter that much.’