Real Estate Negotiation Tips for Sellers (What to do with an early offer)

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You’ve done lots of hard work to get your house ready and now it’s on the market and lickety split. You get an offer. If you’re wondering what to do next, then you’ve come to the right place.

My name is Harry Moore and I’m a realtor in the Washington DC metro area. Today, we’ll talk about what it means when an offer comes in quickly and the things that you can do to be prepared. If an offer comes in quickly, many sellers hesitate to work with it because they think that means there are more buyers out there and if they wait, they’ll get something better. There’s an old saying in the real estate business that the first offer is the best offer and I found that to be true most of the time in any segment of the market at any given time, there’s a pool of buyers that are ready, willing, and able to purchase real estate. I like to call them ripe buyers.

They’ve been out there, they’ve seen what’s available. Maybe they’ve written a couple of offers on other properties that didn’t work out and they’re ready to buy. Those are the people whose attention we want to get. We’re not really interested in buyers that are just getting started or looky-loos or nosy neighbors. The real estate market isn’t static. It’s not as quick to move as the stock market, but the dynamics do change and there’s always a push pull of market forces that you as a seller need to be aware of and prepared for. It’s key to lay out a plan from the very beginning so that you’re aware of what the different scenarios might be and if there is a clear process about how to deal with offers when they come in. I break this down into two components, paperwork and Intel. First we’ll talk about paperwork.

One thing that I like to do to help my seller clients be prepared is to review the contract forms with them ahead of time. That way, they’re familiar with the 20 to 30 pages of terms, conditions and disclosures. That’ll come at them as part of the offer that helps them be able to focus on the offer itself, instead of digesting all of the legal ease. I know that it’s a little passe in this era of email and text messaging, but I really like to get on the phone to gather my intel first. I try to gather feedback from agents who’ve shown the property so that the sellers can have some sense about what the market is saying about their home. It’s not easy to get. Most people don’t answer their phones and they don’t return voicemail messages, but I find that the quality of feedback that I am able to get from those who do respond is much better than what comes back from automated email or texts requests.

Second, I talked to the buyer’s agent. When an offer comes in, this helps to understand where the buyer stands, what experience they’ve had in the market, and if this is their first offer that they’ve written, how long they’ve been in the market, other things that are important background information for me to share with my sellers. It’s also good to get a read on what sort of personality the agent has. All of that helps me to give my client perspective about how they want to respond. Today’s real estate market is momentum driven. I like to use the analogy of surfing. If you’ve ever been to the ocean and Gone Body Surfing or regular surfing, you know what I mean? It’s that feeling of catching the wave versus the wave roll in right past you as a seller. You don’t want to miss that wave of early market momentum.

That’s when you have the most control. The market’s been pretty brisk for a number of years and in many market segments, a number of listings go into contract in the first week. Savvy buyers know that and they look at the properties that have been on the market for awhile and say what’s wrong with it and can I get a deal that’s, which can flip pretty quickly depending on the market. We want a buyer who’s looking to please not looking to negotiate. Some strategies to help be prepared when an offer comes in early. First, understanding the paperwork before offers come in. Second background information about the market, showing feedback and the background on the buyer and the buyer’s agents. All of this will help you to be in a good position to respond.

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