Q: Is there a certain percentage below the asking price that is considered a reasonable offer?

A: A reasonable offer would generally be considered to be 5 to 10 percent below the list price. A so-called “low-ball” would be below that.

But there’s no hard and firm answer because the offer you make depends entirely on how well the house is priced and what the local market conditions are like.

If the seller has priced his home competitively, then an initial offer 2 to 3 percent below list price might be reasonable. Even offering list price might be reasonable. But if the seller is pricing the home at a “pie-in-the-sky” price, then you may offer something substantially below that initially and some people would consider that reasonable.

Of course, the seller may not think so, and that’s really where you’ve got to get your game in order. Negotiations are very much a game of mental agility. Figuring out what’s really important to the seller (price, timing, keeping the appliances) is key to a successful negotiating process.

April 9, 2007.