Recently four offers were made on a home in Oakland, Calif. Three of the offers were presented directly to the sellers and their agent by the buyer’s agents. The fourth offer was simply faxed to the listing agent. This buyer’s agent wasn’t available to represent her client’s best interests. She didn’t even bother to speak to the listing agent before faxing the offer. As you might expect, the faxed offer was rejected.
How an offer is presented to a seller can do a lot to affect the outcome. Sellers usually feel more comfortable accepting an offer if they are confident that the buyers are qualified to perform and eager to close the transaction. If the buyer’s agent presents the buyer’s offer in person, the seller has the opportunity to gather information that could influence a positive decision. A faxed presentation, on the other hand, is far less personal. At the least, the buyer’s agent should stand by for a conference-call presentation.
Make sure before your offer is presented that you find out how your agent intends to handle the presentation. Your best bet is for your agent to present your offer to the sellers in person. This may not be possible if the sellers have told their agent that they don’t want to be present. In this case, ask your agent to make arrangements to present your offer directly to the listing agent. At least this gives your agent the opportunity to present your case and to make sure that there are no questions left unanswered.
Sellers who don’t want to hear offers personally should make sure that their agent is available to meet with the buyer’s agent to review the offer. This is not only a professional courtesy–since the buyers and their agent have put time and effort into the endeavor–but it enables your agent to better screen the offer for you.
Even though it’s preferable to have in-person presentations, sometimes the listing agent prefers that offers be dropped off at the listing office in a sealed envelope. If you find that this is the case, ask your agent to prepare a summary to accompany your offer. This summary should tell the seller something about you and it should highlight the positive aspects of your offer.
Having offers dropped off in sealed envelopes can also do the seller a disservice, particularly if multiple offers come in. One way the listing agent can keep track of how many interested buyers there are is by letting buyer’s agents know in advance that offers will be presented in person. This forces buyer’s agents to make an appointment with the listing agent to present an offer. The listing agent is then able to keep everyone who’s interested informed about how many offers are anticipated. This helps buyers strategize and can actually get a better price for the seller. When offers are simply dropped off in a sealed envelope, the listing agent often doesn’t know how many offers to expect.
No matter how your offer is presented, you can improve your chances by including a copy of a preapproval letter, or at least a prequalification letter. Also, if there’s a seller disclosure package available, you’ll have more clout with the seller if your agent can say that you’ve read and received this before you make your offer.
Some buyers, particularly in multiple-offer presentations, write a letter to the seller to personalize their offer. This can also have a positive impact on the seller.
THE CLOSING: However, the most sincere letter will carry little weight if you’re not financially qualified, or if your price is too low.
Dian Hymer is author of “House Hunting, The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers,” and “Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide,” Chronicle Books.
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