Currently, we’re right in the middle of a seller’s market. With so many potential buyers looking to make offers, how do you know which one is best when they start rolling in? I reached out to some experts for advice on what to look for, what to avoid and how to prepare when selling your home.
Avoid the Finicky Buyer
Personal finance and household blogger Jeff Campbell has bought and sold several homes. When it comes to selling your home, Campbell suggests to beware the nit-picky buyer. “If someone is asking for a lot of nit-picky things in their initial offer, it could indicate a potentially high-maintenance buyer, which in a seller’s market could be more trouble than it’s worth,” says Campbell.
Laurie M. sold her house in Michigan last year. She says she is all too familiar with the finicky buyer. “One woman who came through wrote in her offer that she would like to keep our T.V. stand, rack and speakers,” she says. “She wasn’t too happy when we told her that we weren’t going to part with them.”
Don’t Focus on the Highest Bidder
“When offers start coming in, don’t focus on the highest bidder,” says Pennsylvania REALTOR® and Real Estate Investment Educator Denise Supplee.
She suggests looking at all of the information, including:
- When is the settlement date?
- How many inspections are they looking to have?
- Is there a seller concession?
- What other inclusions are being asked for?
- What type of financing?
“Once you do this and compare all of these nuances, then you would decide to
pick the one that is best,” says Supplee. “You can either choose to let them all know there are other bidders, and for them all to come in with their best and highest,
or go to the deal that seems most fitting and counter at a higher price.”
Check Out the Homes in Your Area
When evaluating potential offers, you’re going to want to check out what homes are selling for in your area.
“Comparable homes should be similar in size, layout, features, age and any other factors that buyers care about,” says John Liston, manager of the online home service site All Set. “Find as many as you can that have sold in the last 3-9 months, using a site like Zillow, and compare the average sale price (median if there are large outliers) to the offer you receive.”
Liston also suggests comparing the average price increase of home sold in the area. “By comparing the increase in your home’s price to the increase in similar houses over similar time periods, you gain an extra layer of comfort that your house increased in value in line with the rest of your neighborhood,” he says.
Consider Listing on a Thursday or Friday
“The best position for a seller to be in is a multiple bid situation,” says Doug Gartley, Associate Broker at In-House Realty. “Be strategic when you’re selling your home,” he says. “Homes that are listed on a Thursday evening or Friday tend to get more offers than homes listed earlier in the week like Monday or Tuesday.”
Be Careful When Bartering
There’s always a chance that a good buyer with a good offer will walk away from the deal. “Never barter over a few thousand dollars,” says Supplee. “I have seen good deals fall through because of an ‘I want to win’ syndrome.”
Good Communication Is Key
“If your agent is a poor communicator with you, they’ll be worse with potential buyers,” says Campbell. “Have a good, clear line of communication with your real estate agent and make sure they’re responding and following up quickly, so good offers aren’t slipping through your fingers.”
Don’t Take It Personally
“One of the hardest things for sellers to do is to take the emotion out of the negotiating process,” says Chief Development Officer of Help-U-Sell, John Powell. “To the seller, the house is an extension of them, and sometimes ego gets in the way of logic,” he says. “This is where a good agent provides counsel on what constitutes a good offer and what is negotiable.” (sm)
Avoid “Love Letters”
While a letter from a potential buyer may seem heartfelt and thoughtful, Emile L’Eplattenier, Real Estate Marketing and Sales Analyst at Fit Small Business, says to avoid them altogether. “In bidding wars some buyers’ agents may try to send love letters, quick biographical letters with personal information about their clients, in an attempt to sway your decision,” says L’Eplattenier. “You need to instruct your agent to ignore these letters entirely,” he says. “Not only will they potentially cloud your judgement, but they might put you in danger of violating fair housing laws as well.” He adds that “letters that reveal information about race, religion or other protected classes may lead to bias complaints depending on which offer you choose.”
Don’t Rush the Process
While it may seem like it’s in your best interest to sell your home as fast as possible, “don’t rush the process,” says Gartley. “Many people will try and sell their home within a 24-hour period.” He suggests you leave your home on the market for a couple days to allow for full market exposure before accepting an offer.