I’ve been thinking a lot about multiple offers lately.  I know, I know, as far as opening lines for an article go, that’s right up there with watching paint dry.  (Mental note – write future post on drying paint.)

Multiple offers on a property happen fairly regularly in a seller’s market, where a number of potential buyers are competing for the same home.  Sellers love them because it can push prices up and buyers hate them because it can push prices up.

When I work with buyers, some are so stressed out at the thought of multiple offers that they want to avoid them all together and not even look at properties that are holding back offers until a particular date.  While I can appreciate that feeling, I’ve had great success for my buyer clients when we were competing in multiple offers.  Here’s why.

STEP ONE – Recognize you are a Unique, Beautiful Snowflake.

Many agents believe that with multiple offers, money is the only thing that matters.  In fact, in many cases money is only one of the things that matter to the seller.  Just like every buyer’s situation is unique, every seller’s situation holds different elements.  What is important to one buyer may not be to another and in those differences lies opportunity.

On a few occasions, I’ve bought properties for clients in a multiple offer situation where we did pay the highest price.  Listing agents who I think are honest and trust worthy have told me that they chose our offer even though it wasn’t the highest price.  The reasons in each case differed, but included:

  • Willingness to assume existing tenant in part of the house
  • Deposit amount
  • My attitude
  • Special clauses that made the sale easier for the seller, like permission to leave behind anything they didn’t want to take

While some sellers only care about money, a lot of sellers are people dealing with a big change in their lives and who want it to go smoothly and for the experience to be a positive one.  By recognizing my client’s unique situation and finding out about the seller’s needs and wants, I can make my client’s offer worth more than just the dollar value being offered.

STEP TWO – Create Your Own Reality

The multiple offer process is a curious thing.  It is really just an agreed upon way of doing something.  Sellers agree to list below market value.  Buyers agree to hold off on submitting an offer until the date that the Seller chooses.  Buyer agents agree to line up outside a house or in a brokerage to present their offers.

None of those are set in stone and I personally like to ignore the “rules” that I don’t like and make up a new approach that I want instead.

As an agent, I can politely but firmly differentiate myself and my client from the herd by offering an alterative approach.    This may mean a pre-emptive offer before the date they were asking for offers.  It may mean being completely transparent with the seller about our negotiating position.  It may even mean informing the listing agent of a relevant fact about the property they omitted and letting them know that we understand and acknowledge that fact and they better make sure any other offers are aware of it.

By understanding what sellers are truly wanting, I can ignore the approach they asked for and instead focus on getting them the results that are actually what’s important.  When I do that, my clients stand out, and we have a better chance of getting the property.

STEP FOUR – Pay Attention to the Little Details

(Insert bit about how you gotta pay attention to the little details or it can screw up everthing.)

STEP FIVE – Think Journey Not Destination

I hear all the time how buying and selling a home is one of the most stressful things you can do.  I think that how we approach an activity determines how we feel about it.

I love helping clients buy or sell real estate and I try to make sure they enjoy it as well.  At the heart of that is my belief that real estate is both fundamental and fun!

It’s exciting to look at homes and picture living there or how it can create a secure future for your family as an investment.  It’s exciting to make your home look its best and to see how other people respond to your home and to realize a return on your time there that allows you to take the next step in your life.

Remembering that buying and selling real estate is exciting doesn’t mean it’s easy.  A lot of things that are fun and exciting aren’t easy.  Skiing down a mountain starts with getting in a car to drive to the slopes, getting your equipment on and getting to the top.  If we thought of all of that as annoying or frustrating rather than being excited about the end result, we’d never go skiing.  I mean, I rarely go skiing, but that’s because of my pathological fear of T-bars, not the getting up to the top.

I work hard to make sure my clients remember that what we are doing is exciting.  It’s interesting and exciting and I’m thrilled to spend the time with people I like doing something I love.

If you or someone you like is thinking about buying and is worried about multiple offers, have them get in touch with me.  I would love to be responsible for what happens next.