It’s time to talk about the correct way to reject offers on homes for sale when there are multiple offers. I have written a few offers that have been rejected because the seller got a better offer. It is to be expected, and it happens. It’s part of the job in this market.

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It’s time to talk about the correct way to reject offers on homes for sale when there are multiple offers. I have written a few offers that have been rejected because the seller got a better offer. It is to be expected, and it happens. It’s part of the job in this market.

On at least two of those occasions, local market conditions were “mansplained” to me. Yes, I wasn’t going to use that phrase, but I cannot think of a better word. The agent went on and on in great detail about the real estate market and offered to help me.

It’s not me, it’s you

I know our local market inside out and upside down, and I can recite little-known facts about it on demand, or even when no one asks and I just feel like showing off.

Each month, I publish detailed numbers of home prices and sales by neighborhood on my blog. I export data from our MLS and import it into an Excel spreadsheet where I sort and subtotal and slice and dice.

I got straight As in college statistics, and I excel at Microsoft Excel as I started using it when it first came out in the early 1990s as a replacement for Lotus 123. I love spreadsheets. They are still one of the best business tools we have.

My clients are well-educated, intelligent people — college professors, lawyers, computer programmers, nurses and engineers. We talk about the market, and I do my very best to educate them. Some even appreciate my spreadsheets and laugh at my jokes.

Navigating a multiple offer world

Sometimes when my buyers want to make an offer, I tell them it’s a long shot before I make the offer, but when I present the offer they made, I present it as if it’s the best offer any buyer ever made because that is how I represent buyers.

There are people who make me write bad offers. I’ll take the worst offer and position it like it is a dream come true. That is my idea of how the “sales” part of my job works.

Having an offer rejected and having to start all over again is hard on buyers and their agents. Please do not add insult to injury by explaining the market to your hardworking peers who already understand the market well.

Even though some agents convince their clients that it is because of them that there are multiple offers, that isn’t necessarily true. Demand for homes is high, and supply is low. Hence the multiple offers, bidding wars and buyers who pay too much. This is a great time for all of us to stop taking ourselves so seriously.

Next week, it might be your clients’ offer that is rejected. Do you want the market explained to you? Do you get the fact that we are in a strong and unhealthy seller’s market where buyers are paying ridiculous prices for real estate?

The right way to reject an offer

The proper way to give a buyer’s agent the bad news is as follows:

  1. Promptly call, write or send a text message to the agent thanking him or her for the offer.
  2. Politely and graciously explain that the homesellers have accepted an offer that they like better. If you can tell them how many offers the seller got, that is always interesting and useful information to pass along to the buyers who lost out.
  3. Do not explain the market.
  4. Do not offer to let them in on a similar listing you have coming on the market soon.
  5. Refrain from being critical of the offer.
  6. Resist the urge to say anything condescending, such as “better luck next time.” The other agent is not asking for your help.
  7. Be the listing agent who is trusted and respected by other agents. The buyer’s agent is your peer. He or she will work harder and spend more time and money on your listing than you will.

You may be the seller’s agent today, but tomorrow, you may be making an offer on a home that is listed by a buyer’s agent you’ve dealt with. It could even be the same agent you were condescending to because an offer was rejected.

Recently, I have been working with some young first-time homebuyers, and I have to say I admire the way they are willing to walk away rather than pay too much. One set of clients is looking for a small inexpensive house because they want to spend their time and money on travel, not on real estate.

They won’t overpay, but they do understand the market well enough to know that they may have to offer the asking price or more if they want a house. I adore my homebuyer clients even though they are not making me rich. They make me feel as though I am doing something that matters.

I have even suggested to one who wants to be homeowner that he wait until fall. His strategy has been to wait until a home is on the market for a few days before he looks at it. He does not want to be part of a “bidding war.”

The next time you have to contact an agent to give him or her the bad news, be polite and gracious. Save the lectures and explanations of the market for your clients.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of

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