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The Super Bowl and Beyond

With the spring market looming, Lisa Loper of the Scott Loper Team reviews how to handle competing offers.

Every year we witness a similar phenomenon: Showings on listings quiet down at Thanksgiving and then increase after the Super Bowl. 

So while football season may be over, the spring real estate market is just getting started.

Buyers often put their searches on hold for the holidays saying they will start up again after New Year’s.  But in real estate, New Year’s equates to the Super Bowl. 

Maybe it is the cold, the short days, the resolutions, or the recovering financially from the holidays; I think the “real” reason some buyers seem to take January off is that during the football playoff season, many wives find it impossible to lure their husbands out to look at homes or stop by open houses on a Sunday afternoon. 

Last month, we saw more activity than usual.  Of course, it is a great time to buy with prices and interest rates being so low, but surely the Eagles being out of the playoffs have helped the spring market start a bit earlier this year.

So, as the spring market gears up, we are seeing competing offers on some especially well-priced listings. In any market, the competition for some homes does get fierce. 

If you are a buyer, you really need a real estate agent that knows how to beat the competition when there are multiple offers, especially when you have found THE house!

A seller is looking for the best PRICE and TERMS.  So you will want to offer a fair price, but pay attention to the structuring of the TERMS to help you win the house without overpaying. Competing offers require a different approach to negotiations than when there is simply one buyer and one seller trying to come to an agreement.

Some important tips when a house for sale has competing offers:

Have all paperwork completely in order.  Granted, real estate agents kill a lot of trees in the process of helping people buy or sell houses. But a very clean, neat, well-organized offer that answers any questions before a seller (or their agent) can ask them is crucial to edging ahead. Don’t have the list agent have to ask for missing paperwork.

Keep your offer straight forward and minimize the contingencies in the contract.  Some contingencies are critical (such as a mortgage contingency or inspection contingencies), but avoid anything redundant, unnecessary or that poses a low risk to you as a buyer.

Don’t get into negotiating personal property (such as the lawn tractor or the window treatments) with your offer.  This can confuse a seller and might turn one off who simply doesn’t want to part with her window treatments.  Get the house first and ask for the other stuff later.

Do your best to accommodate the seller’s desired settlement date.  The sellers of a vacant house usually want to settle ASAP; whereas, if the seller isn’t sure where they are moving yet, they may want a settlement date further out.  After price, settlement date is usually the most negotiated term in an agreement of sale.

Try to address concerns a seller may have.  For example, if the sellers prefer an “as is” sale with no inspections, offer a deductible on the home inspection (You still get your inspections, but it tells a seller you want to ensure there are no major problems with the house. At the same time, you won’t nickel and dime them on inspection issues).  Or, include in the agreement that you will purchase a home warranty (it can offer you AND the seller peace of mind).

Include a personal note to the seller as to why you want to buy the house.  Houses are homes.  Some sellers can get very emotional about their homes and want to know the new owners think the property is pretty special and will care for the house as much as they have during their ownership.  And what seller wouldn’t love to hear how their home is the perfect place to raise a family?  Sellers hear all the negatives about their home; be the positive.  But only be sincere with what you write; insincerity will show and hurt your position. 

If you have the opportunity to meet the seller, be sure to have your agent introduce you.  This opportunity for this to happen is rare (but perhaps they are just leaving when you arrive for a 2nd showing).  And this should only be done through your agent.  Never seek out a seller or try to engage them in conversation without your agent present.  You really don’t want to reveal the wrong information, but it is better for a seller to have a face to associate with the name on the offer when you are competing against other buyers.  And of course, be pleasant, polite and most of all, enthusiastic about the home.

Does this work?  Absolutely!  We have had buyers with the lowest price win in situations where there were multiple offers.  The “magic” for a seller can often be found in the terms of the sale.

Every Wednesday at noon, the Scott Loper Team of Re/Max Realty Group in Harleysville offers some sage advice to potential and current homeowners in our area.  The Scott Loper Team includes Scott Loper, Lisa Loper and Gina Wherry, Re/Max Realty Group, 439 Main Street, Harleysville, PA 19438, 215-256-1200.

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