Do I Still Have A Chance if I’m Not the Highest Bidder?

Agents Sound Off


David Gunderman & Andrew Raskopf
Oakland Hills – Montclair Village

Question: Do I still have a chance if I’m not the highest bidder?

Answer: The highest bid almost always wins. Almost.

If you have the ability and the wherewithal to match your competition, there are ways to approach the terms and presentation of your offer to secure an opportunity to prevail in a counter offer phase (but never assume you will get that opportunity as you draft your initial offering.) One of your agent’s responsibilities is to try to find a way to get the seller to give you the opportunity to match or beat the best offer if it is not yours. There are also instances where the seller values something more than top dollar (i.e. a smoother closing, better terms, or they choose to bequeath the home to someone who has tugged at their heartstrings). In addition to assessing value and analyzing disclosures, it is important that your agent find out what the seller values and you should consider including a letter with your offer that builds emotional bridges to the seller while remaining true to who you are.

Lastly, relationships matter in real estate. Lower offers can prevail when the listing agent and seller trust the lender and/or the buyer’s agent to get the job done, especially if the highest offer seems uncertain.

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What do buyers and sellers often fail to account for?

Agents Sound Off


Nick Granoski
Palo Alto

Question: What do buyers and sellers often fail to account for?

Answer: The power of live conversation can be underestimated in this age of technology, especially as it relates to fast-moving real estate transactions.

Buyers and sellers are using technology to be faster and more efficient with communicating via text, e-mail, etc. While this does facilitate faster communication, it’s important to remember that real estate transactions can also be emotional, and technology does not always translate emotions effectively. Feelings matter, and deals come together (or fall apart) based on what is communicated or interpreted.

Live conversation during transactions can quickly clear up misconceptions or assumptions faster and more cohesively than an ongoing exchange of e-mails or text messages back and forth. Tone of voice, clarity and questions that evolve based on the flow of conversation can be assessed quickly, accurately and will save both buyers and sellers lots of money and time when done correctly. Don’t underestimate the power of communicating the old-fashioned way when it comes to effective real estate transactions.

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Types of pest reports, and who should pay?

Agents Sound Off


Patricia Cox
Danville / Blackhawk

Question: Types of pest reports, and who should pay?

Answer: While there are situations in which there are concerns over other vermin, when we refer to pest control reports in real estate, we are typically referring to a structural pest control report, which identifies wood-destroying pests and organisms (fungus, wet/dry rot, termites, etc.).

These types of pests are very important to identify immediately, as it may impact other improvements to the home. With exterior painting, for example, you want to repair dry rot before painting takes place.

I recommend that my sellers get and pay for these reports before going to market. Buyers are more willing to purchase properties in “as is” condition with existing reports when they have third-party inspection reports. Eliminating surprises is crucial to keeping transactions together and protecting all parties.

Every buyer should make sure that a pest control inspection is one of the inspections performed when purchasing a home. Who pays for the report is negotiable and must be taken into account with the overall offer scenario and competition.

If the seller has already provided an inspection, or you are in a competitive bidding situation as a buyer, it is unlikely that the seller will be willing to pay for the pest control report.

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What are the benefits to open houses around the holidays?

Agents Sound Off


Greg Celotti
Palo Alto

Question: What are the benefits to open houses around the holidays?

Answer: There are pros and cons to having an open house during the holiday season, including some of which may sound a bit contradictory. The advantages include very little competition (inventory levels can be about one-third of what is typically on the market), plus some of the available homes may choose not to be held open. As in most businesses, less competition and more exposure is a good thing for a seller.

Additionally, there is an influx of out-of-area buyers who are here to visit family with the intention of moving here. Often, it’s easier for them to conduct home searches around social visits during their holiday vacations.

In terms of the disadvantages, some buyers will discontinue their search during the holidays due to travel plans, social events, and other seasonal commitments, thereby reducing the buyer pool.

For sellers, it can also be difficult to balance showing the home and still find time to enjoy the season for the very same reasons. Plus, in keeping with the conventional wisdom of staging/presenting a home in a neutral way, it may inhibit them from decorating like they normally would.

These are just a few of the factors to consider whether to hold a home open during the holidays. However, with the strong market, low inventory and large quantity of buyers, if you want to sell your home, you might want to do it.

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Do buyers or sellers typically have more leverage during the holidays?

Agents Sound Off


Monica Corman
Menlo Park

Question: Do buyers or sellers typically have more leverage during the holidays?

Answer: In general, the market slows down during peak holiday periods. Buyers are busy with holiday activities and sellers are waiting until the new year to put their houses on the market.

But in spite of the typical seasonal trends, either buyers or sellers can have the upper hand.

If a property has been on the market for a couple of weeks or more, is in a good location and in a popular price range, it should have sold by now. The seller may be getting anxious, and buyers can have more leverage because sellers don’t want to have an unsold property in January.

Sellers can have more leverage if they don’t wait until the new year to list a good property, although there is risk in doing this with fewer active buyers in the market. But with so little new inventory in December, and serious buyers looking even during the holidays, sellers who don’t wait may do well.

Last year I listed a Palo Alto property on Christmas Eve, with a plan to show it after New Year’s. I was inundated with calls and there was so much interest we decided to accept offers on Jan. 3 — and received 16. The seller was thrilled.

So if you are a buyer, stay active during December and you may get a better deal than during other times of the year. And if you are a seller, ask your agent what the best market timing for your property would be. The answer might be Christmas Eve.

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