I offer my buyers a service that is kind of old-fashioned. I present all offers on homes in person. The agents in my market who know me expect it; the agents I have never worked with are caught off guard by it. The new agents don’t know how to respond so I have to explain the process.
The way it works is that I meet with the listing agent and the sellers and go over the offer. I hand the actual contract to the listing agent and I give the sellers a summary. Sellers are usually the most interested in the bottom line so I hand then the earnest money check and tell them how much my client is offering.
After that I go through the details, including contingencies and the closing date. I always wear a suit when I present an offer because I believe that the way I present myself impacts how the sellers feel about the buyers. In my presentation I always include information about the buyers and why they made an offer on the home.
When I am finished I ask if there are any questions. After the questions are answered I shake everyone’s hand and thank them for the opportunity to present the offer.
The offers I get on my listings come in through the fax machine or through e-mail. It has been two years since an agent has asked to present an offer in person. Sometimes agents send me offers without ever calling to let me know an offer is on the way, and some don’t even bother to follow up to see if I got the offer.
Our rules dictate that agents have the right to present in person unless the seller won’t allow it. Sometimes offers cannot be presented in person because the sellers are not local. If at all possible I try to set up a conference call. With bank-mediated or bank-owned properties, offers cannot be presented in person.
Usually it isn’t even possible to get proof that they actually got the offer, creating a system that is wide open for fraud and abuse.
The reason for all of this is that it adds a personal touch. The buyers become real people to the sellers, and instead of being "that other agent" I become a real person, too. It gives me the opportunity to represent my clients and negotiate on their behalf. I market the service to buyers and encourage them to ask other agents that they interview if they include the same service.
There have been times when my clients have been able to buy a home in multiple-offer situations without making the highest offer just because of how I presented the offer. I had one seller tell me after the deal closed that she wished she would have had me for an agent because of the way I presented the offer on my client’s behalf.
It doesn’t always work out that well. Last fall a seller wanted to throw me out of her kitchen when I gave her the bottom line. My client’s offer was about 25 percent lower than the asking price. Her husband and their agent asked her to let me stay, stating that I was just doing my job.
We have a lot of technology at our fingertips and it is important to use it because if used correctly it saves us time and cuts our expenses. Presenting an offer is one of those times when a low-tech, hands-on approach might be best.
Presenting offers in person has become so rare that it sets me apart from the competition. Some of the newer agents don’t even know that an offer can be presented in person — no one has taught them how to do it.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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