By Drew Heasley
If you’re a buyer’s agents in competitive markets like ours here in the suburbs of Philadelphia, then there are a lot of reasons you will need to be extra sharp to win your clients the home of their dreams. But your buyer’s dream home is probably identical to other buyers’ ideal home. The features that draw your client to a particular house are drawing other buyers, creating a competitive situation. Another common factor, which is a current issue in my market, is low inventory. This issue is usually derived from local economic situations and always creates a challenge for buyers. The other possible scenario is that you are just in a market that is consistently super competitive. All of these scenarios usually result in multiple offer situations, which requires a little extra from the buyer’s agent. Here’s what you can do:
Do Your Homework
When your buyer’s dream home hits the market, you need to be prepared. The most obvious is to have your buyers obtain a mortgage pre-approval and make sure they have other supporting documents ready to go. Go over the agreement of sale with your buyers ahead of time so they are comfortable enough to move fast when the time comes. If your buyer only has a broad idea of where they want to move, such as a school district or town, then scout the market even if nothing is for sale. Find the communities they want to target, focus on those, and be proactive. As the agent, you know the market and the comparable sales, but it’s important your buyers know the comps as well—so educate them.
Finding the Home
The first step is to find them their dream home. Sure, you can just sit and watch the MLS, but this won’t give you any advantage over the other agents. Yes, you absolutely should set yourself and your clients up on listing alerts direct from your MLS. Getting your clients in first can give you a big advantage, though it usually won’t guarantee you a non-competitive situation. The easiest way to do this is ask around your office to see who has listings coming up. Network with agents outside your office as well. Other agents will usually be more than willing to let you in early, and I have found some sellers are very excited to accept an offer pre-market with the bonus of avoiding the hassle of the home showing process. My area also has a Facebook group where agents share “coming soon” listings and this is a great resource. If your area doesn’t have one, then take the lead and start it up. Listing agents may also have off-market listings that other agents are not aware of and your clients would never be able to find. A common move is for agents to have no showings until the first open house. Going to these opens with your clients can pay dividends as the face-to-face you get with the listing agent can make the difference.
Writing the Offer
They could pay cash, but most buyers don’t have the means to do that, so you need to go the extra mile. First, learn as much as possible about the sellers and their situation. Not the nosy questions your clients might ask, but information that’s pertinent to the sale, like their ideal closing date or requests and contingencies that are importance to them. If they have yet to find a new home, you can be flexible on closing date, assuming your buyers are in a position to do that. Also, this gives you a chance to inquire with the listing agent about the activity on the home. When it comes time to write the offer, the more information you have the better your chances to win. The big decision will be how you want to write the offer. Most agents just write up best and final, and send it over. This will certainly win its fair share, but why not write it up for list price or something comparable and add an escalation clause to that best and final number. It has all the benefits of the best and final offer with the added bonus that your client will not overpay. It really helps to know your local market in order to know the best strategy. If your client is using a local lender, make sure to let the listing agent know, and if you share a lender with the listing agent you might consider using them. Other items your buyers might consider would be waiving the appraisal or home inspection contingency, but I try to use these as a last resort. The last thing I can suggest, which I am sure you’ve heard, is that your clients can write a letter to the sellers letting them know what they love about the home and how they can see themselves living there. To be perfectly honest, I thought this was kind of corny, but I have had a few agents do this on my listings and I was shocked at how much it meant to the sellers. It won’t sway all sellers, but I’ve never seen it upset anyone so it’s worth a shot if your buyers are into it.
In conclusion, the most important thing you can do to prepare is know the market, write a smart offer, and try to appeal to the sellers and make their lives easier. Some deals will require you to think outside the box, get creative with inclusions, give flexible closing, do quick inspections, or give large escrow deposits. It’s important for clients on a budget to set a limit and stick with it, because things can move fast and people get excited. Be the hero, win your clients the home, and ask them to tell everyone they know. Good luck!
Drew Heasley is an agent with Keller Williams Exton/West Chester in Pennsylvania. Connect with him on Facebook: facebook.com/chestercountyrealtor, or through his website: searchchestercountyhomes.com.