Tag Archives: contingencies

Improve your chances in multiple-offer situations

Some buyers in hot markets with a low inventory of homes for sale are losing out over and over in multiple-offer competitions. You can improve your chances of having an offer accepted by clearing up any issues that might cause a seller to look askance at your offer when compared to one from another buyer.

If your purchase offer is littered with contingencies that protect you, the sellers are more likely to see the contract as risky, especially if they are looking at other offers that contain fewer contingencies.

A clean contract is free of contingencies, which can give buyers a competitive advantage, especially if they are offering less than full price or are in competition with other buyers.

Timing is everything in the home sale business. Buyers often lose out on the opportunity to make an offer on a listing because they are traveling for business or vacation. One partner may see the home of their dreams, but the other won’t be back in town to take a look for days or weeks.

Making an offer contingent on the absentee buyer’s approval of a property is risky from the seller’s standpoint. If the seller accepts the offer, he takes his home off the market not knowing if the absentee buyer will like the house enough to buy it. Continue reading

Three considerations before listing low to get multiple offers

Three considerations before listing low to get multiple offers

Q: What happens when you start out listing your home at a low price to entice buyers and the first offer is full price but no other offers come in? Are you stuck selling at the lower price (at which you never actually intended to sell)?

A: With multiple offers on the comeback, many savvy sellers are pricing their homes on the low end with the intention to drive buyer interest and — fingers crossed — generate multiple offers. In markets where rising buyer activity and home values have already begun to decrease the inventory of available homes for sale, this strategy has been very effective. However, there is always the risk of precisely the problem you pose: What happens if you get only a single offer at the asking price?

Here are several pieces of advice for sellers who are worried about what happens when listing low doesn’t result in multiple offers:

multiple offers1. Consider what the offer you get does and does not mean. You are never obligated to sell your home at a price you don’t want to, no matter how close the offer is to what you are asking for the property. I’ve actually seen a couple of situations in which sellers get a single full-price offer and reject it or issue a counteroffer, sometimes because they are in the situation you describe, and other times because it has come to their attention that they owe more on the home than they expected. (Don’t plan on doing this, though; it is a strategy with a high likelihood for disgusting a buyer and turning them all the way off.)

The reality is that, if you get only one offer at a given price, that may truly be the fair market value of your home even if you think you might have gotten a higher offer for the property had you asked for more. To live in that world of “what might have happened if” is to torture yourself with the impossibility of guessing at what a hypothetical situation would have turned out like. The real deal is that if you had asked for more, it’s possible you would have gotten more. It’s equally possible that the one buyer who did make an offer would never even have come to see the property.

2. Understand your listing agreement before you list it low. Under some listing agreements (your contract with the agent who lists your home for sale), a full-price, cash offer with no contingencies may obligate you to pay a commission even if “full price” is the discount price you set in an effort to get multiple offers. You can negotiate to change the default terms of your listing agreement, though, so that you are obligated to only pay a commission on a transaction that actually closes. You would need to do this before signing the agreement, and before the home goes on the market.

Get some legal advice from a local attorney if you don’t feel you completely understand the terms and implications of your listing agreement before you sign it and before you set the list price of your home.

3. Don’t list your home at a price you’d be upset to receive for it. The savvy sellers who list their homes on the low end to generate multiple offers are not listing their properties hundreds of thousands of dollars below their fair market value, or even making them the lowest-priced home in the neighborhood. Smart, aggressive pricing is listing a home at what seems like the low end of the range of comparable-supported prices or a slight discount from that — about a 2-5 percent discount, not 40 or 50, or 70 percent.

Many sellers are OK with taking the risk that their home might sell at 2 percent below the comparables as a trade-off for the opportunity to generate multiple offers and the possibility of receiving a premium sale price. And if you are a seller considering listing low, you should be aware of the potential trade-offs, and should make that decision only if you have market data to support the fact that this strategy makes sense in your local market.

To be crystal clear, as a seller, you should not list your home at a price you would be upset about receiving or unwilling to accept.

And remember that “listing it low” is a strategy that has proven to be successful for people specifically aiming to generate multiple offers in the many markets that currently support multiple offers. If your objective is simply to sell your home — period — in a down market, for example, then this may not be the route for you to take.

Every market is different, and every home and seller is different. If your market is still very soft or you don’t see any multiple offers happening in your town, you may not be able to generate loads of offers no matter what you price your home at. As always, work with your agent and take a long hard look at your local market dynamics before deciding on a pricing strategy.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is an author and the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com.

Price is not all that matters in real estate sales

Negotiation strategies differ depending on how well the home is priced and who’s on the other side. If you’re trying to buy a short-sale listing where the lender has to agree to accept less than the amount owed, the seller doesn’t have much say in the negotiations about price unless he can contribute money to pay down the loan amount.

Regardless of who you’re dealing with, you’re more likely to grab a seller’s or lender’s attention if you are preapproved for the mortgage you’ll need and can provide verification of cash for the down payment and closing costs.

Many buyers feel that cash is king. If buyers are willing and able to pay all cash with no mortgage, no hassling with the lender and no appraisal contingency, they feel they’re owed a price concession.

Not all sellers agree. Some, who are confident in the value of their home, would rather work 

with an offer from a well-qualified buyer who needs to obtain a mortgage but who will pay a higher price.

Before you start negotiating, you should understand as much as you can about the other party. For instance, if the sellers are moving to a retirement home, they might go for the highest-priced offer in a multiple-offer situation, even though it might not be ideal in other regards. If they are liquidating their last asset, every penny will count.

An all-cash or large-cash-down buyer might not be able to negotiate a “deal” based on the fact that no 

lender will be involved. But if the home is a good value and suits your long-term needs, you might increase your offer price and include a mortgage. This way, you conserve cash for other uses.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Many buyers don’t want to negotiate. They want their first offer to be their best offer. Usually, the only time this is effective is if yours is the only offer, the house is priced right for the market, and you offer full price. In this market, you’re better off planning for some negotiation, and not putting all your cards on the table at once.

In most areas, the home-sale market still favors buyers. A lot of sellers are selling for less than they paid. Some have to bring money to the closing. Sellers who have owned for years are selling for less than they would have years ago. It’s natural that they would want to try for the highest price possible.

Negotiations are about more than price. Generally, the fewer the contingencies or the cleaner the contract, the more attractive it will be to the seller. Closing and possession dates can become issues at the bargaining table. What’s included and excluded, time periods to satisfy contingencies, and virtually everything in the contract is negotiable.

Since everything is up for grabs, be clear about what’s not negotiable — for instance, you can’t go over a certain price. Show flexibility in areas that will hopefully be valuable to the sellers, such as buying “as is” regarding some needed repairs. Don’t waste your time with sellers who are firm at a price that is considerably over market value. Wait until they become realistic while you continue looking. Some sellers eventually get tired of having their home listed and reduce the price to market value. Others don’t.

Sellers need to understand that buyers in today’s market will walk away from a negotiation if they feel they’re not getting anywhere or are being treated unfairly. Buyers could become suspicious or disappear if they’re told by the sellers or their agent that other buyers are lining up to make an offer when they aren’t.

THE CLOSING: A smart strategy is to defend your position while being honest and fair with the other party.

Dian Hymer is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author.

Price is not all that matters in real estate sales

Negotiation strategies differ depending on how well the home is priced and who’s on the other side. If you’re trying to buy a short-sale listing where the lender has to agree to accept less than the amount owed, the seller doesn’t have much say in the negotiations about price unless he can contribute money to pay down the loan amount.

Regardless of who you’re dealing with, you’re more likely to grab a seller’s or lender’s attention if you are pre-approved for the mortgage you’ll need and can provide verification of cash for the down payment and closing costs.

Many buyers feel that cash is king. If buyers are willing and able to pay all cash with no mortgage, no hassling with the lender and no appraisal contingency, they feel they’re owed a price concession.

Not all sellers agree. Some, who are confident in the value of their home, would rather work with an offer from a well-qualified buyer who needs to obtain a mortgage but who will pay a higher price.

Before you start negotiating, you should understand as much as you can about the other party. For instance, if the sellers are moving to a retirement home, they might go for the highest-priced offer in a multiple-offer situation, even though it might not be ideal in other regards. If they are liquidating their last asset, every penny will count.

An all-cash or large-cash-down buyer might not be able to negotiate a “deal” based on the fact that no lender will be involved. But if the home is a good value and suits your long-term needs, you might increase your offer price and include a mortgage. This way, you conserve cash for other uses.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Many buyers don’t want to negotiate. They want their first offer to be their best offer. Usually, the only time this is effective is if yours is the only offer, the house is priced right for the market, and you offer full price. In this market, you’re better off planning for some negotiation, and not putting all your cards on the table at once.

In most areas, the home-sale market still favors buyers. A lot of sellers are selling for less than they paid. Some have to bring money to the closing. Sellers who have owned for years are selling for less than they would have years ago. It’s natural that they would want to try for the highest price possible.

Negotiations are about more than price. Generally, the fewer the contingencies or the cleaner the contract, the more attractive it will be to the seller. Closing and possession dates can become issues at the bargaining table. What’s included and excluded, time periods to satisfy contingencies, and virtually everything in the contract is negotiable.

Since everything is up for grabs, be clear about what’s not negotiable — for instance, you can’t go over a certain price. Show flexibility in areas that will hopefully be valuable to the sellers, such as buying “as is” regarding some needed repairs.

Don’t waste your time with sellers who are firm at a price that is considerably over market value. Wait until they become realistic while you continue looking. Some sellers eventually get tired of having their home listed and reduce the price to market value. Others don’t.

Sellers need to understand that buyers in today’s market will walk away from a negotiation if they feel they’re not getting anywhere or are being treated unfairly. Buyers could become suspicious or disappear if they’re told by the sellers or their agent that other buyers are lining up to make an offer when they aren’t.

THE CLOSING: A smart strategy is to defend your position while being honest and fair with the other party.

Dian Hymer is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author.

Cash is king in today’s housing market

In these financially uncertain times in the housing market, all-cash sales are attractive offers to homesellers, but come with a condition–they usually must settle for less. In a typical housing market, if your home receives multiple offers (from prospective cash-carrying and/or those pre-approved for a loan), you will accept the highest bid.  But in this current market, mortgages can be hard to come by, and sellers often will take less in order to have the deal go through. 

The outcome: lowering prices despite fewer listings and rising demand.  According to the Star Tribune’s article below, the increased amount of cash offers is offsetting other postive trends that, if there weren’t these cash offers, should lead to higher prices.

All-cash offers in today's real estate marketThis all-cash trend is especially prevalent in distressed sales, where investors are the main buyers, and who typically deal with cash as it is. Short sales and foreclosures accounted for 42% of active listings last month, on average in metro areas. Read more about what the Star Tribune has to say on this topic in their article below:

In today’s topsy-turvy housing market, cash rules

Financing uncertainties make those cash offers alluring, but sellers often must settle for less money to guarantee a deal.

When Chris and Diane Finney decided to buy a bank-owned condo in St. Paul, they knew there would be competition.

Their strategy? Offer less — but offer cash.

While others said they would pay more, they needed to finance the deal. The bank took less and took the cash.

“We were in the driver’s seat,” Chris Finney said.

In a normal housing market, multiple bids usually lead to higher home prices, and the highest bid wins. But when credit markets are tighter and appraisals are often lower, many sellers will take less to be sure that the deal will get done.

“If I get five offers on a property and the cash offer is darned close to being one of those top offers, I’d take the cash offer any day,” said Marshall Saunders, owner/broker at Re/Max Results.

In December, 33 percent of all U.S. home sales were cash deals — a record since the downturn started in 2006, according to Campbell Survey and Inside Mortgage Finance. As a result, home prices can’t gain much traction because many sellers won’t necessarily accept the highest offer.

For most home buyers, it’s confounding to be rejected because they are financing the deal. For the housing market, it means more downward pressure on prices despite tight supplies and rising demand.

“It’s a real sign of what’s going on,” said Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance. “All things being equal, cash wins.”

The volume of cash deals is offsetting other positive trends in the market that should be leading to higher prices. The number of houses on the market has fallen to an eight-year low, and sales are up double digits. At the same time, home prices continue to fall.

At least a third of all homes sales last year involved an investor, Cecala said, and they often pay cash…

Read more of this article from the Star Tribune: “In today’s topsy-turvy housing market, cash rules.”