Hawaii Homebuyer FAQ: Why Do My Offers Keep Getting Rejected?

You, Bob the Buyer, have decided that you are ready to take the plunge and purchase a home. A quick search on Hawaii real estate online and you discovered You start checking out some really good potential properties – you’re seeing some nice pads!


Getting excited now! You want to start home shopping! After perusing the agent pages, you’ve decided on a terrific agent to represent you, ‘natch…Hawaii Life has the best agents! Annie, your new agent, has advised you of a few things up front before you start looking:

The questionnaire

Also, because your Hawaii Life agent is so knowledgeable about this market (of course!) she has advised you that this is a seller’s market right now and you will need to be ready to act when your perfect property becomes available.

What’s a Seller’s Market?

“What’s a seller’s market,” you ask? Annie the Agent explains that a seller’s market is when there is a shortage of inventory in the market and more buyers looking for property then there are properties available. Demand exceeds supply. Making said properties one hot commodity.
supply demand

High demand translates to rising prices. Smoking deals in a seller’s market are non-existent. Keep your offers clean, simple, and straight forward. The fewer contingencies the better. Don’t throw everything at the wall to see if it sticks. Be prepared for multiple offers. Annie then tells you that she is not advising you to make hasty choice, mind you, but an educated, ready, willing, and able decision. Be ready, Bob.

Scenario #1 – Your Offer is Too Low

So, you make a few calls to lenders and set up an appointment or two, but in the meantime, tell Annie the Agent, let’s start looking! You don’t want to waste another minute with such nice homes on the market. Annie asks you if you have your pre-approval yet, and you tell her, “Not yet, but it’s coming. Let’s start looking!” Well, being the dedicated and professional agent that she is, Annie wants to give you the best service she can, so she lines up some properties for you to see.

Wouldn’t you know it, the first house she shows you is just what you are looking for! It has everything on your punchlist – a big yard, garage, great neighborhood, right where you want to be. You want to make an offer immediately, because with a seller’s market, you already know that it won’t last very long. 
MLS #201416182 Haleiwa
Haleiwa home (MLS# 201416182)

The property is listed for $489,000.00 and you instruct your agent to prepare an offer for $450,000.00 right away. Also, you have a feeling that the extra bedroom in the back may be an unpermitted improvement, so let’s add in a “permit package” contingency. Then you remember that you are allergic to cats. You don’t see any cats in the house, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so you add a pet cleaning contingency. While you’re at it, you know how long it will take you to pack and move. You really dislike being rushed, so you want a 120 day close.

Uh oh…Annie has a funny look on her face.


She takes a deep breath and explains that she would not advise coming in so low on your offer. That the property is actually very well priced. Annie reminds you that there were other agents there as well with their own buyers who appeared to like the home as much as you do. Also, your pre-approval is not ready. You need to come in higher on your offer. Also, the permit package and pet treatment contingencies are unnecessary. The Sellers will not like a 120 day escrow. It delays their move as well.

After thinking it through, you are convinced that if yours is the first offer, you’re sure it will be accepted! First come, first served! Those Sellers should be darn happy to get your offer. Plus, you are looking for a deal. Who doesn’t want a great deal? Your Dad always told you to start lowball and negotiate up if you have to. Your Dad is a smart guy and he has the nicest house on the block.

You’re sticking to your guns on this and tell Annie the Agent to draw up the offer. She does, you initial, sign and date, and off goes your offer. Along with 4 other offers by equally as excited buyers. The next morning Annie calls with bad news. Unfortunately, Bob, your offer has been rejected.

What? How could that happen? Why didn’t the Seller even bother to counter your offer? Because the Seller likely got 4 better offers, certainly at least one better offer.

Scenario #2 – You’re Still Not Being Realistic

Back to the trenches you go…looking at more properties. Only this time, you have your pre-approval firmly in hand. You tour a few houses, some are okay, nothing to write home about. There doesn’t seem to be as many available as you thought there would be but…oh!…wait! You like this one! It’s not as perfect as the last one, but it’s darn close! Write it up. This almost perfect property is listed at $475,000.00 and you have decided to offer your magic number again, $450,000.00.

Yes, it is less than asking but much closer to the list price than your last offer. You’re determined you’re going to get that great deal. Besides, the little guy with the horns perched on your shoulder is whispering in your ear that you lost the last one because you were not pre-approved. That’s got to be the reason why, right? 

And you don’t like that fact that the appliances in the house are not included in the sale. You’re a busy guy who has no time to be out shopping for appliances, so let’s ask for those please. Also, you really do need more than 45 days, so let’s make it a 90 day escrow.

Annie the Agent, again, calmly explains that you should consider offering more for the house. Let’s offer list price. The property is worth it. Perhaps even offer more than list price if you are serious about purchasing this home. She reminds you that there is a very low inventory of homes for sale. The Sellers have said up front that the appliances don’t go with the house, its a bad idea to ask for them.

You think about it. This time, though, you feel really good about this. This is the place. It’s going to happen. What are the odds that the same thing happens again? If anything, Seller’s will counter out the appliances and you are prepared for that. You instruct her to draw up the offer. Let’s not squander this opportunity! While you are rubbing your hands together with anticipation, your offer is signed, sealed, and delivered…and rejected.

Oh no. Not again. Why do my offers keep getting rejected?

Bob, are you listening to your Realtor? Are you taking Annie’s advice seriously?

dog listening

Sure, I am.

No, you are not.

Your Realtor knows this market very, very well. Annie works with buyers and sellers all day long. She is licensed and educated, and has taken an ethical vow to perform in the best interest of her clients. Annie understands best what works and does not work in residential sales. Why would you not listen to her? Are you not serious about purchasing a home now that you have already put this much effort into your quest?

You want to buy a home and Annie wants to find you a home that meets your needs and your budget. That’s Annie’s job. She would only advise you to take action that would facilitate and aid you in the purchase of that home. The ultimate goal is for Annie to help you find and purchase a home. While you, Bob, are the expert in what you are looking for, Annie is the expert in how to acquire it!

Scenario #3 – A Home Run

So, let’s try this again. You decide that you want to check out some Sunday open houses. Yes, it interferes with Sunday football, but this has already taken so much longer than you anticipated. Let’s do this. Wow…a lot of other people are at these open houses. Annie wasn’t kidding when she said there are a lot of buyers out there. Seeing this through Annie’s eyes a bit more now.
MLS #201418516 Aiea Heights
Aiea Heights home (MLS# 201418516)

Third house, this one could work. Not perfect like the first house, not even almost perfect like the second one. But, do-able, certainly do-able. So many people here though. They seem to like it too. That’s it, you’re taking Annie advice. What’s the list price? $479,000.00? Hmmm, that’s more than you really wanted to pay, but you’re pre-approved for $500,000.00. Bob, you already know you want to seal this deal, so you tell Annie to draw up an offer for $485,500.00. Only a loan contingency. 45 day close.

You have determined what it’s going to take to make this happen. You are the Bob the savvy Buyer who is adding a little wiggle room to his offer. Your offer, Bob, has wings. Annie submits the offer. That evening, Annie calls with happy, happy, joy, joy news! Bob, you got the house! The Seller’s have accepted your offer. Bob the Buyer is about to become Bob the Homeowner.


Yay, Bob.

Yay, Annie 😉

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