Just like a job interview, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and submitting an offer in today’s market is very similar
- Do some sleuthing
- Listing and rental histories
- Tax records
- Property record sources
Also google the sellers’ names to get a sense of what they are about, how long they’ve owned the property, whether there is a mortgage or if the owners have refinanced.
- Speak to the listing agent
See what you can glean about their listing, the sellers, the sellers’ reason for selling, and their desired timing on moving and closing.
Although they might not tell you everything you want to know, whatever information they share (along with the research you uncover) will go a long way toward putting the sellers’ situation in context when crafting a successful offer.
- Make your first offer your best offer
Writing a strong offer means you have to go in with your best foot forward upfront. In today’s super-competitive market, you might not get another chance. Even if there are no offers in play when yours is submitted, you must assume that they will be coming. Things can change in nanoseconds.
Although many agents might have told the listing agent they would be submitting an offer, until that listing agent physically has other offers in tow, the answer might be “no.” At 10 a.m., the story may be vastly different than 5 p.m. that day.
- How to determine price, terms and closing date
Sellers might accept an all-cash asking price offer over a higher offer that needs financing.
Some sellers are leery of offers that come in well over asking. They wonder if the buyer will be demanding or challenging or want to renegotiate price after inspections, regardless of whether repairs of any kind are truly warranted.
Multiple-offer situations can always be complicated, and the rules are — there are no rules. Whether you use an escalatory addendum or buyers go over the asking price in their initial offer, that information can be used to drive the price higher with all parties. You have to assume anything is possible, and numerous scenarios can ensue as the agent and seller determine how to handle offers.
Regarding offers going over the asking price, a common issue with offers subject to financing the appraisal.
You might be able to negotiate a happy medium between the buyers and sellers by having the buyer agree to pay a certain amount over the appraised value should the property not appraise upfront.
Find out what’s important to a seller as far as a closing date is concerned, and if buyers can be flexible about meeting the seller’s needs, that is often a huge tipping point in favor of that buyer’s offer.
- Keep it simple
In a competitive market, don’t overcomplicate your offer with umpteen conditions and requests. Make your offer strong, straightforward and easy to understand.
Sellers are looking for certainty, so find ways to give them precisely that. Now is not the time to ask the seller for 10 tradeoffs in exchange for a full-price or over-asking-price offer.
- Be detailed and thorough
There is nothing worse than submitting a sloppy and incomplete offer. Although time is always of the essence in offer situations today, that’s no excuse for misspelled names, addresses, legal descriptions, and unchecked boxes or unfilled in blanks.
- Tell the buyers’ story, and give context
Although the National Association of Realtors discourages buyer “love letters,” it’s essential to provide some context to the extent legally and ethically possible while not addressing any areas that could open potential fair housing violations.
If the buyers appreciate certain features about the home, be sure to relay that sincerely. For example, if the buyers are highly organized and appreciate all of the home’s storage options, tell the sellers. Or if the buyers love the huge yard because they enjoy having an outdoor space for recreation, gardening, etc., and they’ll do their best to keep the seller’s gorgeous rose garden for years to come, share that with the sellers too.
- Be responsive, professional and easy to work with
Although you can’t write this in the offer documents themselves, communicate to the listing agent that you are responsive and easy to work with, and make sure your actions match your words.
If you are selling your home, learn how to sell your home without a real estate agent in Los Angeles.