Which Offer is the Best? The Last One.


You have undoubtedly heard the saying “the first offer is the best”. I am here to tell you that this is not so. The “best” offer is the one, or one of several, that is submitted when your agent is on vacation.

I don’t know how they know (they being every agent in the Greater San Diego area), but the moment my checked luggage disappears into the bowels of the Baggage Mishandling Area, every agent working with a buyer or thinking of working with a buyer goes into full Red Alert status. I suspect that a hidden sensor on my little rolly suitcase triggers a blast email suggesting that now would be the perfect time to write a very complicated offer requiring a lot of work on one of my listings. Which one? Ideally, it will be the one involving a first-time seller who needs a lot of explanin’ therefore maximizing my roaming minute consumption and hours spent in the Hampton Inn business center.

They call it the Midwest, but in actuality it is closer to the Arctic Circle. This is where I spent the past week. My daughter, a California Girl by birth and by the mere structure of her DNA helix (an affinity for sushi and Rodeo Drive is genetic, not environmental), decided that the best colleges in the country for her chosen major were located in the heartland. And, in keeping with the Passover tradition of remembering the Plagues, we decided that our visit to these institutions of higher learning should coincide with the season’s worst cold front. Combine the weather with the thrill of traveling through O’Hare and you have the makings of a perfect vacation.

So, true to form, we “sold” two homes while we were away. But, there is a real estate message in all of this. In both cases, we had seen offers on these homes before. In one case, this was our fifth offer to date. As it turned out, it was the one we had been waiting for.

I admittedly have been known in the past to suggest that the first offer is the best. In a more active buying environment, this was indeed true. I would attribute this in part to latent demand (the buyer had been trolling his neighborhood of choice waiting for that perfect property to list) or to the “new” factor (the buyer liked the home and, given that it was a newer listing, was compelled to act seriously and swiftly before someone else snapped it up). Now, with longer market times the norm, buyers no longer feel that sense of urgency. They have time to consider, evaluate, and even wait for a few more homes to become available “just in case there is something better”.

I wrote recently about the range of value. Our five-offer home turned out to be the poster child for this phenomenon. All were within that range of value, but it took confidence in our pricing and patience to find the one buyer that placed the greatest value in this home. Granted, patience is only a virtue when your expectations are realistic; an overpriced property in a slow market will not be any more likely to sell for more than market value six months from now than today. Priced correctly, however, there is a case to be made for sticking to your guns. If, based on the feedback you are receiving and on the market data, you and your agent are confident in your pricing, remember that longer market times are the rule today. And, if your home has been listed since the Depression Era, and you are feeling anxious, try sending your agent on a little vacation.

(The picture is a tribute to my husband, who considers Steak ‘n Shake his personal Midwest Mecca).

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