Seller Counters always say something about price. Usually seller’s don’t specify a specific price but instead, ask for the buyers “best and final” offer. This can be frustrating for buyers because buyers just want to know how much it is to buy the property and don’t want to play a guessing game. But, the seller honestly doesn’t know. It is not up to them. It depends on the buyers, and which buyer is the highest bidder.
The counter-offer usually gives 2 or 3 days to respond, so there is some time to think it over before making your best and final bid. Most of the time the seller will not accept an offer before the counter offer deadline has passed. In rare occasions, a counteroffer will come back so strong that the seller is convinced there will not receive a better offer and they just accept it.
A less popular counter offer strategy for sellers with price, is to put the price of the highest offer the seller has received “or higher”. If I was the highest offer, I wouldn’t be happy. It feels a lot like the seller is using the highest offer to provoke other buyer to pull off an upset. Why make the strongest offer feel like they are being abused, when they are probably the most likely to tender the highest offer?
Sometimes the seller will just counter all the offers with the price they want if all the offers they have received are short. This can happen when a seller listed their property low to attract multiple offers but the offers didn’t get high enough for them to get the price they wanted, or they decided once they received a bunch of offers, that they want more money. As a buyer, I would doubt the sellers motivation to sell when I see this term appear in a counter offer, because the seller is trying to dictate to buyers how much to pay. It can work, if a buyer is willing to pay that price. It can also backfire and make buyers lose interest in the property if they feel the seller is unreasonable or unrealistic.
Sellers asking for “best and final” is the norm. I advise buyers faced with this difficult situation, to ask themselves “what price would you offer and if you didn’t get the property you would not be upset”. Then if you lose in multiples you don’t have to second guess yourself or feel regret that you should have big higher.