How to WIN in multiple offers

Had a client who wanted to see a house this weekend.  Called the listing agent.  The place already had 3 offers on it.  That is happening more and more these days.  So much so that I thought this might be a good time to talk about how to WIN in multiple offers.

Most people think in terms of outbidding somebody.  Sure, more money is always nice, but when there are two offers that are very close in the offer amount, I normally see a seller look to secondary things.  If Buyer A and Buyer B are $1000 apart, most sellers start asking things like:

  • “How solid is their financing?”
  • “When do they want to close?”
  • “How much of a down payment do they have?”

The seller then picks whichever buyer seems most likely to get this deal to the closing table.

What are some things you can do to make your offer more appealing in this situation?

  • Inspect the house, but let the sellers know you will not be asking for any repairs.  ALL sellers hate doing repairs.  They are too busy packing to deal with it.  Most of the time, a seller just does $500-1000 worth of repairs anyway, and they usually don’t care much about how well the job was done.  It is just something they want to cross off their to-do list.  Just do those yourself and brag to your friends how you beat the other buyers and got the house.  IF the house is a hot mess, you walk away from the deal after the inspection just like you would have done anyway.
  • Find out when the sellers ideal closing date would be.  If possible, give them the time that is best for them.   Sellers are under their own stress from moving and packing.  Making it easier on them makes you more attractive to them.
  • Let’s face it.  If you are in multiple offers and really want the house, you are already going to your max offer…may as well add some personal stuff in a letter to let the seller know how much you like the house.  Sellers usually love their house and want to see it go to somebody that they think will love it too.  In multiple offers, you have no room for negotiation so I see nothing wrong with showing your cards as long as it benefits you.
  • And some stuff that seems obvious:  Don’t ask for personal items like the seller’s grill or patio furniture.  Don’t ask for things that were not listed as coming with the house.  Don’t try to pressure them to respond quickly because in multiple offers, it is their world and you are just living in it.

This is soooooo different than it was several years ago when I was blogging about how to squeeze the desperate seller out of every last penny.  Times do change.  Sometimes you are the bug and sometimes you are the windshield.  That’s why it is always important to buy a house that will be desirable in both a good and bad market.

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