In order to go under contract both an offer and acceptance of that offer are required. The offer will state an acceptance deadline which allows the seller a period of time, usually between 1-3 days to review the contract and either accept or present a counter proposal. There are both simple and complicated reasons the seller may object to the contract.
The most important item that will counter balance every other term of the offer is the price, and the level of risk the seller takes on by accepting the offer. If the offer is full price, there will likely be some other contract terms that can be easily overlooked. Some common simple objections the seller may include: 1) seller unable to be present at closing on the date proposed in the offer, 2) other proposed timeline items such as a prolonged inspection period, 3) buyer is asking for seller concessions (amount asked for to help pay the costs of buying the property)., 4) selected Title Company, 5) specific survey requests, or 6) requested property inclusions. Any of these items could be overlooked based on the offered price.
Because buyers are often getting a loan to purchase a property, they present a risk of inability to close to the seller. If a contract is accepted and the buyer is unable to secure financing, the seller will lose precious time on the market, and another potential buyer may be lost. It is a good idea to present a solid pre-approval letter from the bank with a personal cover letter with any information that may persuade the seller to take a risk on you. Buyers frequently need to sell another house in order to buy a house. If a seller accepts a contract from a buyer who needs to sell, then the contract is at risk if the buyer is unable to sell. If you are in this situation it is best to have your house on the market before presenting an offer. The listing agent will be sure to check that the house is offered at a market price and is likely to sell before recommending that the seller accept the offer.
If the seller agrees to the terms of the offer without any changes, he or she may accept the offer by signing it and delivering it to the offeror. If there are minor changes that don't materially affect the contract, the seller may modify the contract then accept. If no objection to the minor changes is made by the offeror then it is still a contract (Under the U.C.C., an acceptance may slightly modify the offer and still produce a contract. If the parties fundamentally intend to contract and do not intend to insist upon their own terms, then a contract exists, even if the offer and acceptance are not identical. If the acceptance contains additional terms, they become part of the contract, unless the offeror promptly rejects them or they materially transform the offer.) . It is a good practice to have each modification initialed by all parties to the contract.
If the seller does not agree with the terms of the contract, they will either reject the offer, or prepare a counter proposal to the offer. If the listed price is 250,000 and the offered price is 200,000, the counter proposal may simply state that all terms of the contract are to remain the same except for the purchase price, which will be changed to 235,000.
It's best to be objective about the offer and acceptance process. Emotions can run high when dealing with homes in particular, so a cool head and evaluation of the facts will help guide the process. Real estate contracts carry a lot of provisions, timelines and conditions, that need to be satisfied in order to remain under contract. Violating the terms of the contract can result in default and potentially derail a deal. Your REALTOR will help guide you to closing and keep you from defaulting. The next step will discuss what happens from contract to closing.