Winning in multiple offers (even if you aren't the highest offer)
I get the same sob story from buyer agents on my listings all the time about how they have lost in multiple offer situations for the last couple of months with this particular client. I do feel bad about their situation. But then I open their email and look at their offer. Sure, it is full price. OK. But they are using an out of town lender, it is asking for higher concessions than they need, has a 45 day close, a $500 earnest money deposit, and earnest money doesn't go hard for over a month. Yeah..... I think I will be recommending another offer.
It is a seller's market right now. Not all homes sell in multiple offer scenarios after a couple of days on market but multiple offer situations are common. Most of us love the "gem" houses that prepped for market, stage their furniture, advertise with professional photos, and show at a 10. Guess what..... so do other buyers looking in the area. Houses that are priced right and presented well move fast. It isn't uncommon to find yourself as one of many offers that the seller is considering.
So how do you win without simply over paying? Well here are a few of the tried and true methods to making a seller fall in love with your offer instead of the other offers that over bid on the property:
1) Don't start off with a low ball offer
We can pretty well tell in advance if there is a high probability that the new sexy listing that you love is going to be a hot property. Every house is unique. Analyze the price in advance. If it is priced high, offer accordingly. If it is priced advantageously you need to come in strong.
Don't start off on the wrong foot. Contrary to popular belief, not all offers come in at 95% of list price and then negotiate to a mutually agreeable price. I recently sold a listing that received 6 offers and went under contract in under 48 hours. This one sticks out in my mind because 3 of those offers were near identical in terms and price. 2 of them were putting at least 20% down and had high earnest money. The choice between the top 2 was easy because one of them started out as a low ball and then increased their offer after they received our Notice of Multiple Offers. That buyer's cheeky shenanigans cost them the house. Otherwise they probably would have been chosen because their offer was one of the first offers that we received.
2) Put down a strong earnest money deposit
This is one of the best ways to make your offer look more attractive without spending any extra money. In the price ranges under 400K, normal earnest money deposits are $1000. If you can increase to 1%, your offer will look far more serious. It looks like you have more skin in the game. We put at least 3 conditions on your offer to protect your earnest money. Buyers that are well prepared and represented properly never lose their earnest money. Gotta love Section 8 of the Real Estate Purchase Contract.
3) Write a love letter
It's funny, in buyer's markets, offers are usually accompanied with a bullet point list of problems with the house. In multiple offer situations, you need to personalize your offer. I always use names. Never "my client" or "the buyer." The seller needs to know that it is you and your family moving into the neighborhood, not just the numbers on the page. We include a cover letter with the offer about you and your family so that they are choosing you over the others faceless offers that might actually net more for the seller. The "we love the house" strategy should only be used in competitive situations. In other contexts, it will weaken your offer.
4) Bump up those conditions a little bit
Do you really need a three week due diligence condition? Do you really need 4 weeks on financing? You will get a home inspection right away and if you use a good lender, tighter time frames wont be an issue. And please don't write a 45 day close in a competitive situation. These things can be tinkered with later.
5) Use a good lender
We all love the national bank where we bank, but please don't use an out of town lender. When I get a preapproval letter submitted with an offer on one of my listings from a large bank with an 800 number for contact info I do not take the offer seriously. If I can't talk to your loan officer your offer isn't real. Listing agents/brokers vet buyers for their ability to close. I usually like to recommend a lender that is proactive enough to call the listing agent after we submit an offer and verify how easy your loan will be to close. In any situation we are selling your ability to close this transaction. This is also valuable in different contexts where you are low balling the seller. Here you are well qualified and certain to close. You just happen to be financially prudent and wont over pay.
The most obvious way to win in a multiple offer situation is to over bid, but paying too much for an asset is not in your best interest. The best way to win is to present as an offer that is going to close and is not going to cause problems for the seller.
Here is a recent success story. I recently had the pleasure of helping some first time home buyers buy their dream house. We found the perfect property. It had just came on market. We wrote an offer and ended up as one of three offers. We got our offer chosen by the seller even though we were the lowest offer and my client was using a zero down mortgage. In another recent success story we ended up being one of thirty (yes, 30) offers bidding on a home. We won even though we were no where close to the highest offer and we were using a low down payment loan with a grant. Our proactive approach of being easy to work with is how we got that one under contract.
The over bid doesn't always win. Sometimes it is the presentation that counts.
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