One of the most common questions I get as a real estate agent is, “What’s a good offer?” I define a good offer as “an offer that brings you closer to getting what you want.” In my experience, this handy chart is one of the best indicators of how strong an offer has to be move a buyer closer to getting what they want. Why?
I broke down, by the year they were built, more than 20,000 single family homes that were available for sale in MLS. The median price of a single family home that was built recently was nearly double the asking price of homes built decades ago. Ironically, the square footage of houses built recently was also nearly double the square footage of homes built decades ago.
Did you hear about the Realtor who had a buyer who wanted something that didn’t exist?
That client’s name was “50% of their book of business.”
Despite the fact that the Greater Boston MLS has tens of thousands of homes for sale, once a buyer compares their needs, wants and aspirations for a home against the available inventory it will be lucky if even three look like potential purchases. Furthermore, upon visiting the three potential new homes, it’s not uncommon for all of them to be quickly ruled out. So, will the type of home the buyer is looking for ever come up for sale? Certainly I hope so. The numbers bear out that buyers probably will find their next home, but one thing usually happens first.
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This happened recently. A neighbor contacted an owner whose house is about to go on the market and makes a cash offer, with no contingencies, that was 10% below what a broker told him was the lowest price to expect. So, of course, the owner refuses the offer. The neighbor, still hot for the home, asks what will it take the owner to sell him the house instead of going to market? The owner responds something along the lines of “an offer that makes it worth my while.” So, the neighbor increases their offer by 40%. You read that right, 40%! The revised, cash, no contingency offer surpasses the highest range of broker predicted possible sale prices. The only hitch, there were no houses that were available for sale in that market at that price. So the aforementioned house goes to market and …of course, sells for almost 10% more than the neighbor’s increased offer. DANG! Folks, in this market no one can assess market value without going to market. Don’t believe me? Then, read my featured column in Curbed!
The key to reading an MLS showing sheet is understanding that agents sell what they got. So while the sheet is bursting full of information, the part of the listing sheet that will emphasize the best and most salable features is the remarks section. Like proud parents talking about their child’s latest accomplishment, agents typically tout the homes admirable amenities. So anything that would make a buyer want to buy that home should be in the remarks section. In fact, not too long ago MLS increased the size of it from 500 words to 1,000 words so agents can list every possible benefit.
Some people think that selling is all about emphasizing a product’s positive traits and de-emphasizing the negative. So another key to understanding the
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A buyer scours the market for the right home and finally finds it. Then, all of a sudden, their winning offer situation turns into a loser. What happened? Here are a few of things that over more than 18 years of brokerage experience have taught me can put the kybosh on an advantageous offer situation and turn it into a loser.
#1 – The Buyers Left Their Offer on the Table Too Long
The longer an offer is on the table, the more time the listing agent has to use it as proof of the home’s desirability and encourage other buyers to make offers. As a result, the offer should force the seller to respond in as short a time period as is considered reasonable. How much time is reasonable for the seller to respond? It depends. At the first sign of my buyer’s interest in a home, I’m fond of asking the listing agent: “Is the seller easy to reach?” If the sellers are available, then I know I can tighten the time line. If the seller is in a remote area with little or no cell or internet, then of course the offer timeline has to be a little longer. If I want more specificity on the matter, I’ll ask the listing agent: “If my buyer makes an offer, how long is a reasonable time to expect a response from the seller?” Over eighteen years, my buyers have been able to scoop up homes from buyers who left their offer on the table for 24 hours or more.
(Click “continue reading,” to find out four more reasons why winning offer situations turn into losers)
Sometimes, I don’t hear my wife. It could be because my real estate channel is turned up so loud. My wife is the best thing that ever happened to me and I feel bad about waiting a little while to find out the errands I could be running, the chores I could be doing, and which one of my kids needs a talking to and why, but I think she knows that keeping it at maximum volume is the only way I can hear the changes in the market. Want to know what I heard most recently? Check out my featured column in Curbed this week!
“Ok,” I replied. “Why are you the greatest …”
“Timing,” he interrupted, laughing.
Like good comedy, successful real estate buying is often the result of excellent timing.
One of my first real estate transactions involved a hard-nosed investor and a first-time condo buyer. The investor had the connections to find a great deal, the ability to negotiate extremely advantageous terms, and the fearlessness to obtain an aggressive rent. But when the tenants wouldn’t re-up, he sold it to a first-time homebuyer, who of course knew little about real estate, but had the good fortune to purchase the condo just before the market went on a run that doubled its value. As for buying real estate, seriously, who needs market knowledge, financial discipline or negotiating ability, when you have timing on your side?
(This post first appeared as my column for June 2014 in Banker and Tradesman )
MLS market statistics show that a listing often needs some market time to find the right buyer…but they don’t need to age like fine wine before they’re ready to be bought. So when buyers notice that a home has sat on the market for a little while longer than they expected one of the most common questions they ask is, “Why has this home been on the market so long?” Put simply, more often than not, the reason is that the market has rejected the price. Poor locations and awkward layouts hurt a home’s marketability, as do clutter, flaws in the condition and a host of other imperfections. Yet regardless of how long a home has been on the market, the location it is situated or the condition it is in, if we halved the listing price buyers would start crawling out of the woodwork!
So when a house has been on the market a long time without finding a buyer, it’s almost always a pricing issue. It might not be necessary to halve the price, but a drop in the price would almost certainly introduce the home to new group of ready, willing and able buyers—many of whom probably didn’t even known the home was available. This new exposure often provokes its sale. If a seller is concerned about selling quickly and the price improvement doesn’t sell the home, the price might have to be continually cut until it does.
(Find out what happens to sellers who are more persistent about their price: Read more)
About David Bates
David Bates is a top producing real estate agent who has sold condominiums, single families, and investment property in a variety of Boston neighborhoods and many of the city's better suburbs.
His insights appear not only in in this original content blog, but also in the most established local media, including Banker and Tradesman, Boston Magazine, Boston.Curbed.com, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, Bloomberg News and NECN.
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