1. Call the agent, introduce yourself, thank them for their offer. Tell her you would be glad to work together, and that you will just need a little bit more information about her and the buyer. You will ask some questions that I think you might find intrusive, but as long as you keep saying "I want to work hard to get your offer accepted, so I need to know this", then they will gladly spill the beans.
They will do a light version of fiduciary duty. Just ignore it. Most agents just want to get paid, they don't care if their buyers have to increase the price somewhat. It's the sad flaw of real estate. She wants to get this offer accepted.
Ask (this is all ammunition to see how far you can push the buyer, which in turn informs you how hard you should push the seller to get it accepted. If the buyer doesn’t seem that motivated, then it might not be worth pushing your seller too hard, which can destroy the relationship):
Why does the buyer like this house?
How long have they been looking?
Do they have any other offers out right now?
How will they be during physical inspections?
Can I call your lender? [call the lender, ask if they can close in 30 days]
Besides price, what other terms do you think the buyers may want? Say, if the seller is firm on price, but can concede other terms, like a quicker close, or all the appliances.
Is it possible to include a cover letter? (again, reiterate that you want to get their offer accepted)
Naturally, most agents will say their buyers are firm on price, it's been on the market, and so forth. Don’t fight them.
If you must, then politely remind them about some other comparables, and the value of the home. You want to get on their side. You want to say, “yes I agree, but the seller has this financial position”. You always want to blame external circumstances.
2. For the seller, do not talk to him until you have all the information above. Your goal is to provide as much information as possible to get him to come down in price. That’s it. In the beginning, we have very little information about the offer. Offers that have no cover letter or anything, are even worse to get your offer accepted.
Furthermore, this is all predicated on the fact that you have been subtly beating your seller down on price the whole time. They should be expecting this.
Once you have all the above information, you want to reiterate three main points:
a) Get on his side. Thank the seller for everything. Tell them that you are optimistic that we have more interested buyers coming up (since it's the new year). Tell him that you are eager to do an open house this weekend to get him a better price. Tell him you have been working tirelessly to get him the price he wants without it sitting on the market for too long.
Naturally, sellers will be disappointed. A $50,000 gap (or however much) is a lot of money, to anyone. The last thing you want is for the seller to think you're just out to collect a commission. Everything you say must be prefaced with the idea that you want to help him, and that you have been working your butt off already to get an offer.
b) The comparables. Say that the BUYERS mentioned the comparables. In doing so, you are pushing the blame away from yourself and onto someone else, thereby making yourself closer with him, and being on his side. At the same time, the comparables are logical. This is where you start to beat the seller down on price. Never actually tell a seller what price works. As in everything, sales works best when you lead them to a conclusion.
You want to start price dropping - or in other words, start mentioning prices here and there, in passing to prime him for what price he will need to come to.
"But at the end of the day, the market decides what price it sells for". After XX amount of showings, and XX amount of time, this is our first offer. Do NOT make him try to accept it. Just present.
c) Ask, so what do you think we should do?
If he doesn't like it, then agree, and ask what he thinks is a reasonable price. If he mentions something reasonable, then agree and write the counter.
If it's absolutely a crazy price, then agree and try to get a counter anyway. You never know. Otherwise, just keep trying to sell it. You'll get paid eventually.
3. Present it back to the agent. Build urgency, and keep mentioning that you are ready to open escrow. If you have a reasonable counter, then keep telling them to come up. Reiterate the benefits of the home so the agent can feel confident going back to the buyers. Get them excited about closing fast.
If the counter is ridiculous, try anyway to get them a counter.