Multiple offers have become the norm in our area. Homes for sale in good school districts which are priced well get multiple offers very quickly.
You’ve been househunting for weeks, nay, months… keeping your eyes on all of the good websites. You know the ones… findingthatrighthome.org, I’llgettherefirst.com, theoneyourrealtordidn’tsendyou.org… yeah, those. Suddenly, you find the right one. You call your Realtor, and go view the home… and it’s even more perfect than the photos. So, what should you do? You write an offer… a good one (not like the last six you submitted… you really want this one!).
While you’re waiting to hear back from your agent, you start planning the home’s new life. You know, removing the wallpaper, positioning the sofa, and the piano… making it “yours” in your head. Maybe even planning the kitchen’s inevitable remodeling.
Ring! Ring! it’s your agent calling you. Your palms start to sweat, anticipating that “You got it!” phone call…. only to hear “You’re in multiple offers!” What? Whatt!?? Who are they kidding? Houses have been sitting for months, and the first time you find the one that you want, there are people lined up to hand over their money?
What can I, as a potential buyer, do? Excellent question… well, let’s see:
SUBMIT A PREAPPROVAL!
Make sure the seller knows you’re serious. Submit a preapproval from a reputable lender, that shows that you’re truly preapproved for the property in question. Let’s make sure they know that you’re truly, truly qualified to purchase their home.
OFFER DECENT EARNEST MONEY
In my opinion, Earnest Money is highly over-rated. BUT (and this is an important “But”)… sellers like it when they see large numbers. It tells them that you’re “earnest”… in other words “serious” about buying their property, and that you’re willing to put plenty of bucks on the line to show your sincerity. Sellers want to see a large enough ‘deposit’, so that it’d be painful to walk away from, if you just “change your mind”.
FIND OUT WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO THE SELLER & GIVE IT TO THEM
Ask the listing agent. What’s important to the seller… do they want a quick close, or long? Do they want to leave the playset in the backyard behind, and not worry about it? Do they want a rent-back? You don’t have to offer those items, but there might be something of value that the sellers want that might not cost your buyers money.
KEEP THE CONTINGENCIES TO A MINIMUM
Consider shortening the attorney review, or the inspection period. Make your mortgage contingency very short (make sure you’ve cleared this with your lender first)… or better yet… have your lender give you a “mortgage commitment” for the property… that clears a big hurdle for your seller. If you can (not everyone can) consider waiving your mortgage contingency making it a cash deal. Be really certain that you’re going to get your loan… ’cause writing the deal as a cash offer obligates you to purchase the property, even if the loan doesn’t come through.
KEEP THE CONTRACT CLEAN
Don’t ask for strange things… don’t include the patio furniture, the sandbox, grandma’s rocking chair, and the gas grill in your offer. The more complicated you make your offer, the more difficult you make it for the seller to accept.
BE FRIENDLY & PROFESSIONAL
We all know that sellers can be influenced by their agents. If the listing agent gets the sense that you (the buyer’s agent) are going to be difficult to work with… they may telegraph that information to their sellers. Offers of similar value may cause you to lose if you’ve been contentious, or may cause you to win because you’ve been pleasant and professional.
WRITE A HEART-TUGGING LETTER
When all else fails… don’t underestimate the value of a “schmaltzy” love-letter to the sellers, telling them how much you love what they’ve done with their home… you can see that they raised three children in the home, and you hope to do the same. The letter isn’t going to make up for a $20,000 shortfall… but it might help tip the balance in your favour, if the offers are close.