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Competing in tight markets

We’re hearing it more and more: multiple offer situations on properties in Portland.  A tighter real estate market has resulted in inventory that, at least by statistical measure, can be classified as a seller’s market.  Six months of inventory is usually considered market equilibrium and Portland Metro inventory is now 5.0 months and even lower in some close-in areas.

Friday’s Portland Business Journal included Wendy Culverwell’s article titled, “Tight markets pose hurdles.”  Unfortunately it’s a subscription only story so you can only read the first few paragraphs.  No matter what the market situation, buyers always want to put their best foot forward.  One tactic is to, “write an admiring note to the seller to show they’re the right buyer for the home.”  We fully agree and will often recommend that buyer’s write what we call a “love letter” to the seller.  Money talks but it’s not the only thing on the table.

Not mentioned in the article and potentially equally or even more powerful is having the buyer’s agent present the offer to the seller in person.  Stuffing an offer in into a scanner or fax with no cover letter or explanation happens frequently.  Often the transmission isn’t even followed up on.  “I just wanted to let you know that I sent an offer over on your listing to your email.  Can you confirm that you got it and let me know if you have any questions” is a lot easier phone call to make than, “I sent an offer over to you a couple of days a go and just wanted to check in.”  “We accepted an offer yesterday.”  “But I sent your offer to fred@homeseller.con.”  “Yeah, but my address is .com, not .con.”  Ooops.  We’ve seen it happen and now the next call has to be to the buyer to explain why they didn’t get the house…  What happens with the offer after it is signed is equally important to what is in the offer.

Presenting in person falls out of favor in a buyer’s market.  The competition is lower and often the only one on the table.  Schedules and locations have to be coordinated and listening to multiple offers can be a little arduous.  The buyer has the right to have their offer presented in person unless the seller specifically declines to entertain offers in person.  It is not the listing agent’s right to make that decision.  Of course if the seller is out of town, it’s not an option which makes the agent’s cover letter important:

“Our has written the attached letter introducing themselves to you and why they love you home and can see raising their family there.  Of the houses we looked at yours is by far the best match for them.  Additionally, we have tentatively scheduled the home inspection for tomorrow at  noon.  They’re pre-approved for their loan through John at XYZ bank.  The pre-approval letter is attached but you can call John directly at 555-1212.  He is expecting your call.  If you have any questions for me, please let me know.”

The goal is to convey the human aspect of the offer than the numbers on the earnest money agreement can’t convey.  None of the tactics are going to be appropriate for every situation.  An investor planning on tearing down the home that has been in the family may not want to share that!  There isn’t any room for anything but the truth in presenting.

5 Comments on “Competing in tight markets

  1. “But I sent your offer to fred@homeseller.con.” “Yeah, but my address is .com, not .con.” Ooops. We’ve seen it happen”

    No doubt, your typos are costly at times.

  2. Keep contingencies to a minimum. Restrictions such as needing to sell your home before you move or wanting to delay the closing until a certain date can make your offer unappealing. In a tight market, you’ll probably be able to sell your house rapidly. Or talk to your lender about getting a bridge loan to cover both mortgages for a short period.

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  3. I agree that the real estate market is in favor of the buyer right now. Sellers are competing with foreclosures that are currently flooding the market. Analyst are saying this year or even 2013 will be the bottom out year for real estate.

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