The worst thing you can do in multiple offers

This one always drives me crazy. There are a lot of bad things to do during multiple offers when you are the buyer’s realtor, but trying to rush the listing realtor is the worst.

What I mean here is where a realtor sends you over an offer and puts something like a 2 hour deadline for acceptance. I get it. Their goal in this is to make you hurry up and accept their offer before another offer comes in but I have NEVER seen it work in their interest. It usually backfires.

There are three reasons why:

  1. Do you know what happens once that short time frame for acceptance passes? The offer has technically expired. I don’t know about other realtors but the last thing I want is for the listing realtor to think the offer I sent is dead because the time has past. In this market, I usually do the opposite. I know listing realtors are wanting to get several offers and it is common for a seller to not even review all the offers until 2-3 days after the listing went live. I like to give them plenty of time. Why? Because I know I am not going to get them hurry up. They are going to do whatever they want and I want my client’s offer to be valid whenever it is presented. I also want to come across like we will be easy to work with.
  2. It makes the seller not like you. This is an even bigger one. Nobody likes pushy people. We don’t like it when somebody keeps pushing their grocery cart too close to us in the check out line. We don’t like tailgaters when driving. And in the hottest seller’s market in all of history, we sure don’t like it when buyers try to exert some pressure on us.
  3. It makes you question their commitment. I recently had this happen to me. I got a really good offer on a listing the first day on the market. I told the realtor, who was also the buyer, that we were planning on reviewing offers on the following Monday. She pointed out that she had given us a two hour window. I suggested she extend that until Monday. She fought back and said she didn’t know if she was still interested in the house if she couldn’t buy it that day. That tells me two things about her. She was either bluffing or was serious. Both are bad signs to me. If she was bluffing, it tells me she is going to try to manipulate us through the entire sale process. If she was not bluffing, she probably wasn’t totally in love with the house and there was a greater risk of her backing out of the sale before it closed. I told this to the sellers and they agreed that the only way we were gonna sell the house to her was if her offer was the only one we got. Fortunately we got 3 other offers and I was happy to tell her she didn’t get the house…….and I did it before her precious deadline.

Does location matter any more?

I guess a lot of people think being a realtor is about opening doors and cashing checks. I guess there are a lot of realtors who think the same so that is probably the source of the perception.

You don’t need me to help you pick a pretty house. You don’t need me to be there to tell you what you like or dislike about a house. You don’t need me to find houses for you. You don’t need me to walk into the only room with a chandelier and announce it is the dining room. You don’t really even need me at all…….unless you view spending the most money you have ever spent as an investment that you know you will sell someday and want to maximize the return. Oh, I guess you also need me to make sure you don’t pay too much since you won’t really know if you overpaid until you go to sell it.

So here is a quick lesson on how I go about helping people pick a neighborhood. We have all heard that real estate is about location. It is, but I don’t think people really know what that means. I normally break down neighborhoods into 4 categories:

The “A” Neighborhood-These neighborhoods are the ones people know and love for a variety of reasons. Some might be close to something desirable, some might have a lot of charm, some might have lower crime. Almost all “A” neighborhoods have a good performing school district. These are the ones that people know by name. These are also the ones that will always be easy to sell in even a bad market.

The “B” Neighbhorhood-Is like the “A” but may not be as well rounded. It’s popular, but often viewed as an alternative to another “A” neighborhood that is close by.

The “C” Neighborhood-This is one that no buyer has ever mentioned as somewhere they would love to live. It is just average in everyway. Nothing really is wrong with it. Nothing is really great about it either. It is just a neighborhood full of houses.

The “D” Neighborhood-These are like the opposite of the “A” neighborhood. These are neighborhoods where 16 years worth of buyers have told me they DON’T want to live. It is often because of high crime in or around the neighborhood or due to a combination of poorly performing schools. Let’s face it, if buyer’s are telling their realtors they don’t want to live in specific neighborhoods, there’s your sign that it isn’t the best investment.

Why does this make any difference if you’ve found a pretty house you like in your budget? Shouldn’t you be happy just to have found a house in this crazy market? Isn’t finding a house in a less than popular neighborhood better than not finding a house at all? The answer to all of this is that it doesn’t matter at all when you buy the house. It matters a lot when you decide it is time to move on and you want to sell it.

Right now, let’s say there are 100 buyers in the market. There are 20 houses in each of my categories for sale. That means there are 80 houses for 100 buyers. Oh no! That means all 80 sell for at least full price in multiple offers the first day on the market.

But markets change. I am no doomsday person. I don’t think the market is going to crash. It will however, over time, swing back and forth between being a buyer’s market and a seller’s market.

This is what it looks like in a buyer’s market: There are 80 buyers in the market. There are 100 houses for sale, 25 in each of my 4 categories. How do you think this pans out? The “A” neighborhood houses sell first, then the “B” neighborhood houses, then the…….well, you get it. When there are more houses for sale than there are buyers, buyers get pickier. Buyers can’t be picky in today’s seller’s market but they will be able to again. I am sure of that.

My first house was in a “D” neighborhood. I was in my mid 20s and didn’t know anything. Like a lot of first time buyers, I was focused on just finding a house I liked. As I improved my house, I would look out my window and realize that I had no control over my whole neighborhood. Many of the houses around me were owned by investors. There was some crime. I loved the house but not the neighborhood. I sold it for about what I had in it, which meant I didn’t have a lot of equity to carry over to the next house. That is another reason to always pick a winning neighborhood. You will use the equity you’ve built in your old house as your down payment on your next house. You want to maximize that.

So do yourself a favor and always pick the best neighborhood in your price range.

What’s a Buyer to do in this evolving crazy market?

When the market started heating up, the smart buyer’s agent knew to get an offer in ASAP to try to beat other agents to the punch.

Then we all started doing something like saying “Reviewing offers on such and such date and time.” That was nice because you knew that you had time to show the house. If your client couldn’t break away to see it immediately, you could tell them you could do the next day.

Now it has evolved to the point where we are saying “Reviewing offers on such and such date but the seller reserves the right to accept any offer at any time.” So we are back to dropping everything and rushing out to see a new listing ASAP.

What is a poor buyer to do right now to get a house? Make such a strong offer that the seller will want to accept it immediately. Turn the tables and make the Seller chase you! That usually involves 4 big things: Price, inspection, closing date and possession date.

Obviously for price, that means a stupid high number. I can’t believe after spending so many years blogging about not overpaying in a Buyer’s Market, that I am now suggesting people do this. But in this market, it is the difference between getting a home and not getting a home. Instead of “Go big or go home”, it is “Go big to GET a home.”

Inspection…..waive it totally if you can let yourself do it. Having dealt with probably close to 1000 inspections over the past 16 years, I can tell you that I rarely see a house with a deal breaking problem. Most of the issues that would make you want to walk away from the house are typically visible if you look. If it has old HVAC units, well, you know you will have to eventually replace them. Roof have a shingle blown up or need some flashing around a chimney? That’s not worth losing a house over. Plus, most of the time all you can get a seller to do these days is spend $1000 or so on repairs. Most of the items found on a home inspection will probably also be found where you are living now: Some electrical oddities like reversed polarity or an ungrounded outlet in older homes. Various plumbing leaks. A roof, HVAC units or water heater somewhere between new and needing replaced. Most of what is found on a home inspection is deferred maintenance.

A lot of sellers have already bought another home and know when they will be closing on it. Ask their agent what the ideal closing date would be for the sellers. If you can make it work, you have just made your offer much more appealing to them.

Same with the possession date. It’s a pain in the rear to have to be out of your old place the same day you get in your new place. If the house was in reasonably clean shape when you saw it and you don’t think the sellers are terrible people, ask if they need a couple of days to stay in the house after the closing. Some breathing room is always nice. The worst I have seen when this happens is that you often get left some garbage or a dirty house. Most sellers are eager to get to their new place so you don’t really have to worry about them not moving out.

All of these things are a little risky to a buyer. I know. I get it. But the people that do these things are the ones who are going to be moving into that house you fell in love with and were outbid on.

A good realtor is like using the Waze App

I’ve seen a few sellers lately make some bad decisions.

I get it. Selling your home is something you only do so often and I don’t expect them to understand the market and all the obstacles between sticking the sign in the yard and the closing. All they know is that the market is hot and selling your house is easy.

What they don’t know is that keeping it sold can sometimes be a lot of work.

I recently had a friend decide to list with some less experienced agent who was going to reduce the commission. I was going to reduce my commission to ZERO since this person was a friend and they had some circumstances that required them to move, guess I should have told them that sooner. I had been giving advice and working towards getting this done for close to a year. To this seller, all they were thinking about was saving money. Well, you only realize that savings when you close the sale. The house sold and is back on the market. Usually when a house comes back on the market, it doesn’t get the same attention from buyers. Most buyers in the market have already seen it and either said no to the house or made an offer that obviously wasn’t the best one or they would have gotten it the first time. This is where experience is worth every penny, even though I wasn’t planning on getting any pennies from this sale.

I am currently working hard to keep a deal together for a house where the buyer went to do the final walk through before the closing and found the ice maker had been leaking and has caused $12k in damage to the house. I know if my listing goes back on the market, we will never again catch such a fantastically qualified buyer who was the highest bidder, so I better put on my thinking cap and get this done.

These are just a couple of current examples of where experience can make or break a sale. The goal is to get to the closing. I am thinking about the entire process, not just the beginning. Not just the next step.

As I was making my second cup of coffee and thinking about writing this post, it reminded me of the early days of GPS. You’d enter the destination and take off. I think that is how most sellers view this process…….”I’ve got a realtor and they just stuck a sign in the yard. It’s all downhill from here!” If nothing goes wrong, then that is very true. But how often have you had your GPS take a crazy route or not know about construction, wrecks or other annoying delays? It’s the same with real estate. A lot of inexperienced agents don’t know what to lookout for along the way or don’t know how to negotiate. Sometimes you have to take an alternate route. Sometimes you need to change lanes along the way. A good realtor is more like the Waze app……not only are we watching out for delays, we are looking for speed traps and doing it all in real time as we get you to the final destination, which is the closing.

How I have benefited from having the smartest Dad in the whole world.

It’s been a good week.

It all started when I had two buyers make offers on houses and they both got them. Both went over the list price of course as that is becoming far more common.

One of them was a house that had come back on the market after a sale fell apart. I called the listing realtor and asked why it fell apart. She told me that before the seller put the house on the market, he had a specific home inspector look over the house and repaired everything the inspector found. Well, the first buyer used a different home inspector and decided they didn’t want the house. The listing agent thought the buyer just cold feet and used the inspection as a way of getting out of the deal. That happens unfortunately.

I know nobody likes it when a house comes back on the market. The house often doesn’t have the same momentum the second time. I also know that sellers start getting nervous about selling their house even in this crazy hot market. It turns out that my buyer had told me who she was planning on using for the inspection and it was the same inspection company the seller had used. I saw this as an advantage. I knew it would be a huge deal to the seller and listing realtor if they knew we were planning on using the same company since there would be no surprises.

So, instead of writing an offer with an escalation clause, I called up the listing realtor and pretty much said “Hey, how about we give you so much above the last contract you had on the house AND we agree to use the same home inspection company your seller used before they listed it? Would that keep you from waiting to get more offers and just sell it to us right now?” Fortunately it was and my buyer got the house. She later told me she was prepared to go to a certain number if needed and that I saved her a lot of money. Close to $18k to be exact. Had it gone into multiple offers, odds are she would have paid much more than she did. I just knew what to do to make the seller accept our offer. My dad always said “Think like the other person’s perspective.” I knew the seller was anxious about the home inspection after the sale fell apart and having the same company he used do our inspection would make him feel like the house was really going to sell this time……thanks Dad and Happy Father’s Day!