Multiple offers for a home in the Seattle area? Yes! You heard me correctly, there are multiple offers happening all over the eastside suburbs of Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond and Sammamish.
The real estate market is going hot and heavy right now. If you’ve followed my posts regarding the Seattle-Eastside real estate market, you’ll know that just about 50% of all the homes in the eastside communities of Bellevue, Redmond, and Kirkland sold last month.
It’s not unusual for 2, 3, or 4 offers to happen all at once when a good home comes on the market. I even heard of one home in Bellevue with a drop dead gorgeous view that had 26 offers on it! I happened to know who the winning buyer was and was able to ask how they were the chosen ones. I will share that with you later in this post.
How do you get the house if your offer is one among many offers? Other than selling your first born, there are some things you can do.
- Write a very, clean, straightforward offer.
- Don’t ask for any extras.
- Don’t use unusual time frames.
- Put down a good, solid amount of earnest money. There’s no set amount, but show you are serious by putting down 2-3% of the offer price as your earnest money amount. If you’re worried about this, then ask your Realtor to explain the ways you could lose your earnest money in a transaction and also how you can legally get it back because of the contingencies in an offer.
- Include a copy of a pre-approval letter from your lender.
- Find out the seller’s hot buttons. Do they want the fridge, washer, dryer or would it be more convenient for them to leave these appliances?
- Find out what works for the seller in terms of closing. If the seller wants to stay a little longer, use a date that will work for the seller. Allow the seller to stay in the house for free for a week after the closing to allow for an easy move. Imagine the power of this for a seller. (Banks will limit the time a seller can stay in the home after the sale is closed, so nothing beyond 30 days will work)
- Use short timelines for contingencies.
- Once you determine the time frames that work for the seller, use those and incorporate short dates for any contingencies. Know how quickly your lender can close your loan for any home before you make an offer, so you can use the shortest date possible time frame for financing.
The same thing should apply to the inspection time frame. Shorten the time frame from the boiler plate time of 10 days to 5 or less. You can easily find an inspector in a short period of time which should make it possible to do an inspection in a matter of days.
- Ask your Realtor to make a personal presentation to the seller. It helps to humanize you as a buyer. If your Realtor is able to do so, then wait outside in your car in case a quick response is needed. You’ll be there to immediately sign any changes. (this can only be done if the listing agent and seller allow your Realtor to make the presentation. Many do not.)
- Pre-inspect the home before you make the offer. This may sound radical, but when the market was booming 5 years ago, buyers in Seattle routinely did this before writing an offer for a home.
You would need the seller’s permission to do this, but it might make the difference between winning or losing the home. Usually an inspection happens within the first week-10 days after the sale and then negotiations for repairs begin. If you and the seller don’t agree on what will be repaired, you can back out of the sale. as long as you and your Realtor follow he time frames and guidelines of the contract. Imagine the power of coming to the table with an offer in which there’s no inspection. It’s no longer a concern for the seller. It’s not a concern for you, because you’ve already done your inspection. It gives you a lot of power as a buyer. You’ve had the opportunity to determine whether the house is a well-built home…or not. In this scenario, if the house has a lot of problems, you may not want to make the offer to start. By pre-inspecting a home, you’ll know before you get involved in all the emotional ups and downs that accompany a multiple offer situation whether you truly want the home. There is a chance you could do an inspection, make a great offer, and still not get the house. But it may be better to lose the money on the inspection than lose a home you really want.
By the way, the buyers who got the house out of the 20+ offers paid a much higher price, had a great earnest money, pre-approval letter, great dates, and …pre-inspected the home!
There are other suggestions to strengthen an offer? What else can you suggest?
It’s the price. No big surprise, but here’s the proof that pricing your home right will get it sold for the best price in the Seattle-eastside real estate market. The price you choose to ask for your home and how long you are at the original asking price will make a difference in how much you actually sell your home for and how long it will take.
How many times have you heard these comments?
- I don’t want to give my house away.
- My neighbor’s home sold so fast, it must have been underpriced.
There’s a common misconception that homes that sell quickly must have been priced too low. Yet, when you look at the chart above, the homes that sold quickly actually sold closer to their original asking price than the homes that stayed on the market longer.
Longer market time = a lower sales price and less money in your pocket.
What have you seen out in the real estate market with the pricing of homes vs. the sales price?
Professional photography and staging are, without question, necessary to sell a home in today’s marketplace. We have our stager and photographer ready for our sellers when they’re needed. I wouldn’t list a home for sale without professional staging or photography.
There are many other good real estate agents who believe the same thing as there are a lot of blog posts about horrible house photos. This is not a new idea, but one that’s taken a strong hold among good real estate agents.
There are, of course, some homes which show beautifully and don’t need the staging, but we all know, even if we don’t admit it, staging and photography are necessary marketing tools to get a home sold.
Sometimes we forget, great staging and photography are only the start. They’re not the complete story. You’ve got to get out and see the house “in the flesh.” This advice, by the way, is both for Realtors and home buyers. You can’t do an effective market analysis as a real estate agent or fall in love with a house as a home buyer unless you see it, smell it, and hear what’s going on in the neighborhood. You need to “touch” the house in a variety of ways to determine its true value.
I was reminded of this very thing yesterday when my business partner, Angie Bondurant, previewed a home that’s strong competition to an upcoming listing. The home looked gorgeous online, which it should in order to attract the most buyers, but two things were not apparent until Angie went to see the home. It smelled and it was dark. A smelly house, whether it’s that “old” smell, food smell, dog smell or something else, can be a total turnoff to a buyer, even if the home is gorgeous.
A dark house is the kiss of death in Seattle. Of course, it rains 24/7 here as the world thinks, so light, airy homes are popular. (In reality, there are a lot of gray days in Seattle, but it doesn’t rain all the time by any means) A bright home is always a plus in this climate.
This home ended up with two strikes against it, both of which had to be experienced by seeing the home. It was dark and smelly. Granted it was finished beautifully and this will help it to sell, but the other factors may limit it’s market time and final sales price.
So besides the amount of light and odors, other things to consider that aren’t apparent when you see photos online:
- How loud are the neighbors? Come visit the neighborhood a few random times.
- How loud is road noise with or without the windows open? Stop by during rush hour.
- How big are the rooms, really? Wide angle lens accentuate room sizes in photos.
- Check out the backyard for its true size.
- What do you see from each of the home’s windows? From the backyard?
What else should be experienced when viewing a home?
Since I’ve been busy telling people now is the time to sell a home if planning to sell in 2010, I thought I’d bring up a friendly reminder about some of the top things to do around your home before you go on the market. This is by no means a complete list, but it focuses on some of the most obvious structural items both buyers and building inspectors will notice about a home. This list also is separate from a list of strictly cosmetic suggestions such as updating carpet and flooring or painting walls. Many blog posts could be written about the items you should check when preparing your home for sale, but this list is a good start.
Here’s my top ten list, with an added #11 thrown in because I’m dealing with it right now:
1. The Condition of roof – Does it need to be cleaned? Repaired? Replaced?
3. Deck material rotted? Railings, steps, deck boards, joists, beams, etc.?
4. Electrical – Non professional work? Panel breakers match wire size? Non grounded outlets?
5. Handrails Are they secured to wall? Are they installed where they should be?
6. Shower tile grout and sealant conditions?
7. Condition of the bathroom floors at tub/shower and toilet?
8. Smoke detectors? Are they working? Do they need batteries?
9. Furnace Has the furnace been serviced recently? Does the filter need cleaning or replacement?
10. Crawl space? Is there moisture in crawl space? Is a vapor barrier installed? Ventilation adequate? Wood scraps or debris which needs to be removed?
11. My new personal favorite is to check your chimney and fireplace. Hire a professional if you have not had your chimney checked or serviced. Make sure it is safe to use. (I’m having some fun doing this now and will fill you in at a later date as to what is involved.)
What other things should be checked out before a home goes on the market?