Winning the Bidding War

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It's a sweet day when homeowners discover they're getting multiple offers on their property. But for buyers competing for a house, it's a nail-biter.

Over the years, I've developed two novel strategies to help buyers win bidding war.

First, I aim to be the last presenter. Why? I can often gauge what offers sellers have already seen and probe them to identify their concerns. Also, by that time, they're ready to make a decision.

In addition, I always try to bring my clients when I present offers to the listing agent.

If my clients are sitting in the same room, we can often cut the negotiation time from a couple days of phone calls down to a matter of minutes"?something desirable for eager sellers. It's an enormous strategic advantage to be able to discuss and ratify changes on the spot.

The other benefit is that buyers are humanized when sellers can meet them and talk with them.

Such was the case in a recent negotiation for a highly desirable Sunnyvale property. When I discovered there were two offers on the table, we opted for a full-price offer.  

At the presentation, one offer was rejected immediately, and the listing agent let me know our competitor's offer was better than ours. So we countered with a higher price--an additional $5,000 over the asking price--and removed our contingencies. I later learned that our competitor's offer was still better than ours.

Yet, the sellers had met my clients, an engaged couple enthusiastic about buying their first home together. It turns out that the groom-to-be and the husband of the seller both worked for the same high-profile technology company, though neither knew one another. Nonetheless, that shared experience created something of a bond. My buyers were no longer just a generic couple. The sellers, rather than seeing just figures on a page saw faces and personalities and had some insight into the buyers' aspirations.

The result: My clients won the bidding war. And the sellers even decided to give the house to them for a thousand dollars less than our final bid as a courtesy.

Had my buyers not been at the presentation, I'm convinced the competitor's offer would have been accepted.

Related: Not Overpaying for Buying a Home