Representing Buyers in a Multiple Offer Situation? How to Increase the Odds of Winning

Today, I was called upon to sit in on a multiple offer presentation. One of the presenting agents, an agent in our office, is also the listing agent on the subject property. As a matter of policy and to avoid any implication of impropriety, a broker must be present to represent the seller in such a situation. If the dual agent’s offer is the prevailing one, then the broker continues to represent the seller and see the transaction through to close. On this particular occasion, our broker had a schedule conflict and asked me to attend the presentation accordingly.

In doing so, I was reminded of the importance of selling licensee (buyer’s agent) presentation regardless of whether or not there is more than one offer in play. I prefer not to toot my horn too publicly. Mine is a referral business. You won’t see my face on a shopping cart, bill board or other public display. That said, there is one record of which I am particularly proud and quick to share with my new buyer clients. In the six plus years I’ve been selling real estate, I have never lost in a multiple offer situation, with the exception of those rare instances where the competing offer put significantly more money on the table. In apple-to-apple competition, my buyers have always prevailed. How?

It is absolutely about presentation, no ifs, ands or buts. Sadly, raising the bar in our industry is not necessarily difficult as so many agents come to real estate without substantive business skills. Furthermore, the attrition rate in the first two years is so high (roughly eighty percent of new agents do not renew their licenses). So, when presenting an offer in competition, combining good counsel with a professionally presented offer package will increase your odds significantly.

Here are some surprisingly simple, yet highly effective steps:

·         Educate your clients – A decisive client will do what it takes to put their best foot forward.

·         Have them write a personalized letter to the seller/s. There are instances where this may not be effective such as with new construction. Builders tend not to care as theirs is a product to sell. Regardless, have your clients do it anyway. Personalizing them for the seller, especially one with a strong emotional attachment to the house is crucial. There have been several occasions where I have learned later from the listing agent and/or seller it was the letter which did the trick, even at a lower offer price.

·         Write a letter to the sellers yourself, detailing the key points of the offer – purchase price, closing date, earnest money, key timelines such as inspection and financing, etc. Don’t make it too personal, but establish the connection between you and your clients. Assure the sellers you will do everything in your power to achieve a smooth close.

·         Ask to present the offer in person. It’s your right unless the sellers have stated otherwise. Many agents will only fax their offers, putting them at an immediate disadvantage. Again, sellers like to gauge the professionalism of the selling agent. It gives them confidence the deal with stay together. As a selling agent, you also gain by meeting the listing agent in person. It’s not uncommon to present to a new, in-experienced agent. Doing so increase your odds of taking control of the situation.

·         If you have to fax in the offer, then include the cover letters. (One of the agents in today’s presentation did not. The sellers had no sense of the buyer he was representing.)

·         Present first or last, not in the middle.

·         Show up on time and in appropriate business attire.

·         Have enough copies for everyone – the original, a copy for each seller (one is acceptable for couples, close relatives, etc. – ask the listing agent how many people will be attending and decide accordingly), one for the listing agent and one for you. Make certain they are in a presentation folder. Manila file folders, in my opinion, make a weak impression.

·         Include business cards for yourself and your clients’ lender.

·         Take time to introduce yourself to all parties. Be confident, make eye contact. Present your offer and then ask if the sellers and listing agent have any questions.  Stay only long enough to answer questions and leave. Lingering may make the sellers and their agent uncomfortable.

·         If your contract stipulates as specific or default offer expiration date and time, do not write in “offer expires upon presentation”. As soon as you leave the room, it’s expired. Leave enough time for seller responses and counteroffers. If you’re presenting at 8:00PM and the default expiration is 9:00, you may find yourself in a bind. If there’s lawyer review or any other kind of review period noted by the listing agent, factor that into your timeframes.

·         Make yourself available for a seller counter. Sit in your car or grab a cup of coffee, whatever’s necessary. Try to avoid presenting late at night or at week’s end. In my experience, people are tired, cranky and not in the mood by the time Friday night comes around.

·         Ensure that your clients are available to respond to counter-offers, etc.

·         Multiple offer situations may be stressful for all concerned so be sensitive.

If you are not presenting in a competitive situation, use these tools regardless. Remember, the higher you set your bar, the further other agents will have to jump.