As we kick off the 2018 real estate season, here are a few things buyers and sellers need to know:
- Make your best offer the only offer you write. Everybody wants a deal, but the odds of you getting a bargain are slim. You want to give your best offer because the market moves fast. Plan on negotiating with the seller and odds are somebody else will make an offer while you and the seller are going back and forth. This is especially true if it is a new listing.
- Get preapproved. You want the seller to want to deal with you. In a slower market, they would have to deal with you even if they didn’t feel like it. In a fast market, they know there is always another buyer out there. Don’t make them wonder if you can buy their house.
- Don’t write a letter telling the seller about yourself. Most of the time when I have gotten those, we have multiple offers and the seller never gets around to reading it until after they have sold the house. And do you know what most of them say to me after reading it? “If they loved the house that much, they should have made a better offer.” You want your offer to stand out? Let the seller pick the closing date if you can, or do the type of inspection where you can inspect it but won’t ask for any repairs. The seller will find that much more exciting that seeing a picture of you with your dog.
- Don’t ask for anything that wasn’t included with the house. Sellers think it is strange that you went shopping for their personal items. Also, if you write stuff that wasn’t offered in the listing that the seller doesn’t want give up, you force the seller to counter your offer without those items. Meanwhile that gives time for another buyer to make an offer. You might lose the house because you were trying to get the sellers coffee table or patio furniture.
- Don’t try to rush the seller. If it is a new listing, odds are they are getting multiple offers. The saying is the squeaky wheel gets the oil, but in real estate that just means you are annoying the seller. Most agents know that if you are annoying now, you will likely be annoying throughout the entire process. Think of it like a job interview. The seller has a big decision to make and is going to decide based on how you present yourself through the offer and your actions.
- Usually your first offer is your best offer. When I was a new agent, I was told this and really didn’t believe it, but 13 years experience in all types of markets tells me it is true. I might alter the saying to say the first “Reasonable” offer you get is usually your best. Occasionally I do see these crazy buyers who must be watching reruns of real estate shows from 2007 when sellers were desperate to sell…..but they aren’t living in reality.
- Don’t feel rushed. Buyer’s agents like to do things like give you 3 hours to respond to their offer. They do this hoping to get the house before anybody else does. The truth is in this time of having more buyers than houses, that buyer isn’t going to walk away. Only a few times in 13 years have I seen where a buyer has two houses they want and needs a fast response because they want to buy their 2nd choice house if it doesn’t work out with you. They usually will wait though since your house was their 1st pick.
- Think about what is most important to you. Everybody wants the most money, but sometimes a slightly lower offer that closes sooner, or lets you stay in the house for a few days after the closing, is appealing. Also, think about what you will accept before you get an offer. Most sellers don’t think about this until they get an offer and they have a lot of stress trying to process it.
- Don’t over price your house. Your house will eventually sell for what it was worth. Starting out with a realistic number accomplishes two things. One, it makes the process go faster. That means less time cleaning up your house and having to leave for showings. Two, you create a bit of a frenzy when it is a new listing. Buyers flock to new listings. They are afraid of losing it and will likely make their strongest offer. Once you get past that new listing period, buyers know there isn’t a risk of another offer and will try to negotiate more.
- That surround sound system you are so proud of? Leave it off during showings. It isn’t as important to buyers as it is to you. Don’t stink up every room with Glade Plug-ins. Buyers think you are covering an odor. People with allergies just want to leave your house. The average person can only hold their breath for like 40 seconds, and that is not enough time to see your house. Keep your house the cleanest it has ever been. Seeing those dried up specks of toothpaste in the sink is sort of like looking at used cars and seeing coffee stains around the cup holders or a french fry under the seat.
Happy buying and selling!