By Samantha Jones
Autumn is all about embracing change, such as the falling temperatures, pumpkin-spice everything, and shifting markets.
While inventory levels fluctuate around the country, it’s still common to receive multiple offers on listings in many areas. Serving as a trusted resource with proper advice for your sellers is just as important heading towards the holidays than ever.
On paper, multiples are the goal. More options mean more money for your seller, right? Done deal! What could go wrong?
Only everything. No pressure!
Multiples on a listing require a delicate balance. That means selecting the “right” offer, not scaring other options away, and keeping sellers calm. No need to worry. With these tried-and-true strategies, you’ll be sailing towards a smooth closing in no time.
1. Take your time. It’s no secret that time is of the essence in deals. But as the seller’s agent, you control the timeline. You need time to gather all of your client’s options, so stall if you have to. Thank agents for their patience, explain you are following your client’s lead and will be in touch as soon as possible. Stay in communication with them—no one likes to feel out of the loop or as if games are being played. Depending on the situation, ask for highest and best with a deadline a few days out to collect all interested parties. Just know you run the risk of buyers opting out of a multiple. If going with highest and best isn’t right for your seller or the market, work another offer up to your best and keep the others as backups.
2. Have compassion. I strive to live my life in line with the Golden Rule. Treating others as I want to be treated, in both my work and personal life. Believe it or not, this is paramount in multiple offers. We’ve all been on the receiving end of good and bad news in multiple offer situations, and the delivery of a seller’s decision stucks with you. I call agents to relay a seller’s decision with heart and compassion. I apologize if they’re not my seller’s choice, explain I have been there and feel for them. A little care goes a long way. It’s the right thing to do and you may end up needing them anyway. Deals fall through all the time, so I tell the buyer’s agents that I’ll let them know if anything happens causing the deal to go south. They may end up being your buyer after all. More importantly, at the end of the day, we’re all humans who care. We’re all working towards the same goal, and real estate is an incredibly small world. Clients and their agents will remember you, for better or worse.
3. Vet the buyers. Financially, of course. It’s a common practice of mine to speak with a buyer’s mortgage broker on any deal before accepting an offer. It’s the mama bear in me. Speaking live with their broker can help head off potential hurdles from the get-go. Case in point: I obtained multiple offers on a listing earlier this year, and two of the offers were great opportunities for my client. One was significantly higher than the other and didn’t include a closing cost credit. Seemed straightforward initially. I planned to advise my sellers to accept that deal, until I spoke with their lender who told me the buyer was giving him all the red flags—disappearing for days, tight ratios, etc. He said he “wouldn’t take this offer” if he were in my shoes. I appreciated his candor, because without this conversation, the pre-approval made it seem as if this buyer was the real deal. Later that day, the agent told me his buyer was backing out. If I had told buyer number two that they lost the house prior to the conversations with the lender and first buyer’s agent, my sellers and I could’ve been the ones losing in the end. Precarious situations can be managed with a little due diligence.
4. Highest isn’t always best. Consider the terms of a deal. Does a buyer have something to sell in order to buy? Are they financing with a mortgage or paying in cash? How far out is the closing date? The right answers to these questions are subjective and depend on your sellers’ needs. Cash is usually king and a quick close is ideal because life happens, people get sick, or lose their jobs. If your seller has lived in their home for decades and needs weeks to close, then quick may not be ideal or possible. Tweak the terms as needed. Try to move up or push out the closing. Do the overall terms of one buyer make the most sense, aside from price? See if you can work them up to not only be your best, but your highest.
5. Care for your clients. Last, but certainly not least, remember all of this is about your sellers. Their needs and concerns come first. They don’t sell homes every day, so be cognitive of the emotions involved on their end. Listen, advise, be patient, and offer care. You’re in this together.
The article is part two in a series on dealing with multiple offer situations. Read part one: “How to Win a Multiple-Offer Situation for Your Buyers.”
Samantha Jones is an award-winning real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the Chicagoland area. She is a top producer who specializes in residential sales. Connect with Samantha on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.