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Ask wiselyA few years ago, I wrote an article on this blog about the real estate questions that consumers ask and the relationship between them and the ultimate outcome.  Today we’ll again consider questions, but instead those which are posed to the listing agent by home buyers or their Realtor before an offer is drafted.

In the days or week prior to offer submission, the better Silicon Valley buyer’s agents will make sure that they show up on the listing agent’s radar (surprises are not usually appreciated, so getting a contract out of the blue without a phone call or email prior is a mistake which is likely to make that offer a little less likely to be the winning one if there are multiple bids).   This is a chance to ask some questions and also to let the seller’s agent know that there is progress on the buyers’ side.

What sort of questions can or should San Jose area home buyers ask?

Helpful questions include these:

  1. Is the seller looking for anything specific in the offer (close of escrow date, for instance)?
  2. Does the seller want or need a rent back?
  3. Does the listing agent (or seller) prefer a CAR or PRDS contract & forms?
  4. Is there anything not in the MLS or disclosure package that the listing agent feels that we should know?

What kind of questions could be counter-productive?

Sometimes, questions are not as helpful and could even come across as red flags, alerting the listing agent (and seller) that the buyer’s agent or buyer could be less than ideal to have in a transaction.   Unhelpful questions – that is, those which may hurt your odds of success – can include these:

  1. Questions which are already answered in the MLS especially (for example, calling to ask how old the house is when it’s plainly listed online will make the buyer’s agent look like a lot of spoon-feeding may be required).
  2. If the home inspection was done on Monday, asking on Tuesday if the sellers have repaired an item listed is premature (and may make you look nervous).
  3. When it will be multiple offers, asking if the seller “is firm on price” is a signal that you aren’t serious, and if you do write an offer, it will be low.
  4. If there’s an offer date, asking “will you look at pre-preemptive offers?” says that you don’t respect the seller’s wishes…and will probably be a pain to deal with in escrow.

The communication between buyers or their agent and the listing agent before real estate contracts are written and signed can either help or hurt your odds of success, especially in multiple offer situations.  Be careful to consider what your question is saying, or implying, to the other side.  In a market like this, everything counts.





  • Mary Pope-Handy

    Silicon Valley Realtor, selling homes in Los Gatos, Saratoga, San Jose, Silicon Valley, and nearby since 1993. Prolific blogger with a network of sites.