Making an Offer on a Home: Behind the Scenes


"I believe we'll want to work with your clients," she said as I stood up from the conference table and extended her a firm handshake.  Those were the code words I was looking for and I knew my Silicon Valley client would be a very happy woman in a few hours, especially since she paid less than her reservation price!

There were two other offer packets in her hand, one had been faxed in, its sheets arranged haphazardly in a manila envelope.  The other was presented earlier in the day, stapled into a standard company folder by that buyers agent.  The listing agent put the other offers down on the table, flipped through my binder again, and smiled.  "I'll touch base with you this evening."

I want to give my clients every possible advantage and I waited until the last possible moment to present the offer.  Waiting is a common, but not always widely-used tactic, on the day when offers are being presented.  It's especially useful if the listing agent has you on their radar but doesn't proactively call to tell you how many offers they have.

It wasn't the waiting that was our advantage, though.  As I sat in this Silicon Valley brokerage's reception area, I thought about the listing agent's offer to let me fax our packet in.  Sure it would have been faster but I wouldn't be able to look her in the eye and explain our case when she first read the offer.  I double-checked the two offer binders in my case while my mind quickly flashed back from the ad slogan about never getting a second chance to make a first impression.  Smiled a little, wondering where that came from.

My clients and I had already gone over what our plan was but I had the second binder just in case.  We knew they had priced this Silicon Valley home "well" because its asking price was slightly below the relevant comparable sales (of similar quality real estate) within a half-mile radius.  We had to be prepared to compete with multiple offers: the question was, "How many?"

I pulled out the binder we were going to use.  If my client's offer were presented this morning, we may not have known about the faxed offer.  If my client's offer were presented an hour ago, we may not have known for sure about the second one.  The reason why I wait isn't to surprise the other party, it's to get as much information as possible for my client to make better decisions.

So how did we choose how much to offer in each binder?  And why was the thought process different from how we figured out the maximum she was willing to pay?  My clients and I walk in the shoes of the seller and their listing agent.