For first-time home buyers, finding the perfect place to settle down is hard enough. But then to have the offer you’ve made on it rejected? You might be tempted to start reconsidering this whole homeownership thing altogether.
But hold on! Having your home offer rejected doesn't have to mean it's back to renting. In fact, if you play your cards right, you might just be able to turn that rejection around—or at least learn from the experience and come back a stronger candidate the next time.
The most important aspect of a rejected offer is understanding why it was rejected, and for that we turned to the experts. Here are a few common reasons your home offer might have been rejected, and a few helpful tips on what you can do about it.
3 common reasons sellers reject home offers
Home offers are rejected for myriad reasons. Here are some of the most common ones, as explained by the experts.
1. Your offer was too low
The first and most obvious reason your home offer could have been rejected is if the dollar amount didn’t meet the seller’s expectations. This might mean your offer was insultingly low, or that it was just low compared with other offers.
Often, buyers "believe the best way to start a negotiation is with an offer that’s lower than what they’re willing to pay," says Colby Hager, owner of CapstoneHomebuyers. "This can work, but it can also backfire. When a seller is considering multiple offers, the low offer seems less serious and could indicate further negotiating headaches down the road.”
Keep in mind that sellers are looking for a good deal just as much as you are, and you should plan on working with your real estate agent to make sure the sellers at least feel like they’re getting one.
2. Your earnest money deposit was too 'cheap'
If there’s one part of the offer you shouldn’t cheap out on, it’s the earnest money deposit. This deposit (also called an EMD or “good faith” deposit) basically signifies how interested you are in the home and that you plan on moving forward with the deal, all the way to its closing.
“Believe it or not, there are buyers who get cold feet and walk away from a transaction days before closing,” says Shannon Hall, broker and owner of Dwellings by Rudy & Hall. “The EMD should be enough to let a seller know you're very interested, and also uncomfortable with the idea of leaving it on the table.”
Since many contracts stipulate that a seller can keep the earnest money deposit when a buyer walks at the last minute, you should feel certain about the house—and then convey this certainty by leaving a significant deposit.
Hager recommends putting down at least 1% of the purchase price to show sellers you mean business.
3. You asked for too many contingencies
Sellers don’t just want the best price for their home; they also want the easiest deal—which means no complications.
“Sellers like the least number of contingencies," stresses Hall.
"But that’s not to say that a buyer should waive the due diligence period,” she adds. “Make it shorter, but don’t waive it. And if you need multiple contingencies, that's fine; but look for a home that’s been on the market for at least 30 days.”
Since sellers are generally more willing to make concessions on a home they’ve been trying to sell for several weeks, this is a good approach to take if you’re a picky buyer with multiple contingencies.
“Sellers also don't like to give away their money to help someone get into a home,” says Hall.
Make your deal an easier and more appealing one for sellers by sticking to the fewest number of contingencies possible, getting due diligence done quickly, or targeting homes that have been on the market for longer.
Watch: 5 Things You Should Never Do When Buying a Home
What to do if your home offer is rejected
The first step is understanding why the offer was rejected in the first place.
“If an offer was rejected, a buyer can try again, depending on the reason it was rejected,” explains Karen Parnes, broker and owner of NextHome Your Way.
“If you need a certain home sale contingency, for instance, and can't remove it, then move on," Parnes says. "But if you can pay more and the market warrants it, resubmit a better offer.”
How to avoid future home offer rejections
Although rejection is sometimes unavoidable, there are things you can do to increase your chances of making a successful home offer.
For instance, “a buyer should come into the market already aware that he or she will have competition,” Hall says.
In addition to putting your best foot forward, you should be sure you’re working with an agent who has the skills to close the deal.
“A good real estate agent can help by guiding the buyer on the expected norms of offers in their area,” says Hager. “A real estate agent will also know the market and help you figure out if starting with a lower offer is advisable—or if a strong offer out of the gate will get the best results.”
One final bit of advice: Work with an agent who understands seller interests.
“The buyer's agents who most often win the day are the ones who reach out to sellers before submitting an offer,” says Hager. “They have the best chance of not being rejected because they took the time to understand the seller's situation.”
And if your home offer still gets dismissed, don’t be too disappointed. In a seller's market, "buyers are bound to have their offers rejected,” says Parnes. “Homes are coming off the market quickly, and sellers' expectations are high.”
If your offer gets rejected, work with an agent to fix it or simply move on to the next home. Then make an offer the seller can’t resist.