Low inventory levels in the communities where we work have resulted in a sustained trend of multiple offers, particularly in Palo Alto where the market has been a “sellers’ market” for over a year. Some of our clients have wondered about how multiple offers are handled and we thought this would be a timely topic for all of our readers.
A multiple offer simply means that the sellers receive more than one offer on their home. The ground rules are always established by the sellers usually relying on guidance from their Realtor, the “listing agent”. Most often an offer date is set so that buyers and their Realtors know when they should be ready with an offer. Generally the offer date is set within a week of a property being placed on the market.
In our market area the listing agent will have prepared a disclosure packet that includes the sellers’ disclosures and any presale inspection reports. Interested buyers access these reports, review them with their Realtor and determine whether or not they want to proceed with making an offer, and on what terms.
Once the buyers have written an offer their agent notifies the listing agent, and the listing agent is responsible for making sure the offer is presented.
Presentation rules are also set by the sellers guided by the listing agent. Occasionally an institutional seller such as a bank trust department may instruct the listing agent to hear or receive the offers and the listing agent generally summarizes the price and terms for the trust department officer. Most often, though, sellers wish to hear the offers themselves. In this instance the listing agent usually assigns each buyer’s agent a time for presentation allowing about twenty minutes for each offer presented sequentially.
Presenting a buyer’s offer to a seller is usually the one time that a buyer has to create rapport with the seller through the way that their agent represents them. The power of this presentation cannot be overemphasized. Sellers and the listing agent may draw conclusions about the buyer based on the manner in which the buyer’s offer is presented. Typical considerations are:
- How committed the buyer is to the property?
- How well-prepared is the buyer to back the terms of the offer?
- What has the buyer’s agent done to prepare the buyers for the purchase and the escrow process?
- How well prepared is the buyer’s paperwork and process. Sloppy paperwork and a poorly prepared agent have “cost” buyers a home in a multiple offer!
Understanding the significance of the “face time” with the seller, we are astonished that some buyers’ agents do not show up when given the opportunity, relying on e-mailing or faxing their clients’ offer to the listing agent!
We have many wonderful stories of our buyers “winning” in a multiple offer, but one that comes to mind is a buyer we were representing who did not have the highest offer. Nicole showed up at the presentation and sat in the lobby of the real estate office while other offers were being presented. At the end of the offer presentation, the sellers noted that Nicole was still in the lobby and they asked if she would come back into the conference room. They wondered if our client could increase their offer by a slight amount – still not matching the highest offer by a fair amount. The buyer’s “story” as communicated by Nicole resonated with them and they had decided that they wanted this particular buyer to purchase their home. A fax or e-mail would never have yielded this happy result for our client!