5 things your Silicon Valley buyer’s agent can do to help improve the odds that your offer will be accepted

5 things your buyers agent can doHome buyers in Silicon Valley are getting frustrated, discouraged and disheartened as they write offer after offer, only to lose out in multiple bid situations. It’s not just the poor small down payment home buyer either – this is happening to those with 20% down and more too.

What can be done to improve the odds of success?

Usually losing out is a simple case of the best price and terms winning out.  (I wrote a series of articles on how to compete in multiple offers that you can find here.)  At times, though, there’s a bit more nuance, especially if there are two or more bids which are “neck and neck” or nearly tied.  Sometimes the buyer’s agent either does or doesn’t do certain things which can impact how your real estate purchase offer is viewed by the listing agent and seller(s).  Here are 5 important things that the buyer’s Realtor or sales person can do which will help the odds of success:

    1. The agent should read the MLS printout carefully to see if there are any instructions regarding offers.  This one may seem obvious. but too many buyer’s agents just draft the offer and send it in, ignoring information that will probably be useful (such as offer deadline, preferred form – CAR or PRDS contracts, availability of disclosures, the request to call before writing the contract etc.).  Ignoring clear instructions will usually result in creating bad feelings between the parties or their agents, and lessen the odds of success.
    2. The buyer’s agent should call or email the listing agent before writing the offer (and after reading the MLS!).  Sometimes there are requirements or just preferences that won’t be known unless contact is made.  Additionally, though, the listing agent will simply want to know about the level of interest and not have any surprises – it’s a courtesy call.  If the relationship between real estate agents is improved, so are the odds of success.
    3. The agent should ask if it is possible to present the offer in person… and be willing to do it, of course.  Many seller’s agents won’t want a live presentation (most would email), however the fact that your agent is willing to spend the time and make the effort to present in person usually speaks volumes about his or her professionalism. It’s also a hint that the agent is a cut above most.  In my real estate practice, several times I beat out other offers by asking if I could meet with the listing agent and sellers to discuss my clients’ offer, and then doing it.   (With my multiple offer situation yesterday, only 3 agents requested to present to me live.  One of them had the winning contract.  Of course, the rest of the package was also super strong – but this one step is a clue to the whole offer strength and commitment.)
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Congratulations, your home is “sale pending”! What happens next?

Congratulations your home is sale pendingIf you have had your San Jose or Los Gatos home on the market and just gotten it under contract, or sale pending, you may be very excited and happy.  Perhaps you’re a little worried too.  What should you expect now that you’ve got a ratified offer?

Each purchase agreement is a little different from every other one, so this article cannot give you an exact road map.  But let’s look at the big picture and touch on what normally happens to give you an overview.  We’ll do this in a simple list – which is not exhaustive!  Your real estate professional can provide you more info specific to your transaction.

  1. You should get a copy of all the paperwork which you have signed (electronically or paper)
  2. A timeline is usually given to the seller by the listing agent, an assistant, transaction coordinator or someone else involved in the sale (so that you know the major dates)
  3. The buyer’s initial deposit or good faith deposit should go to escrow (most often within 3 business days, most often a check but sometimes by wire)
  4. In Silicon Valley, normally buyers and their agent get disclosures from your listing agent prior to submitting their bid.  If they did not return the signed disclosures with the offer, this should be done not too long after the offer is accepted and certainly within any contingency timeframe for property condition.  The buyer’s agent will need to do a disclosure after walking through the property and carefully noting the condition (this is the AVID or Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure), so expect him or her to need to visit your property and spend some time looking at it carefully.
  5. The buyers may order inspections or have a walk through with the home inspector that you hired prior to putting your property on the market
  6. Assuming that this is a normal sale with some buyer contingencies, there will be a deadline for them to be removed.  Depending on many factors, the buyers may want to renegotiate some aspects of the contract after obtaining inspections or further information on the house, townhouse or condo.
  7. Once all contingencies are removed, you’re in the home stretch!  The next big events are the signoff at the title company and the final walk through, both of which tend to happen within the last week of the escrow period.
  8. Sometimes there is a seller rent back or lease back, and the seller may stay past the close of escrow date if that’s part of the agreement.  Normally, though, the seller must be fully out of the home on the day of closing, and the property should be reasonably clean or “broom clean”.  You’re not expected to wash the carpets and windows, but there should be no debris, the home should be fully empty and vacuumed and generally cleaned up after everything is gone.  Most sellers hire a cleaning crew to do this either the morning of the closing or the day before.

These are general milestones, not a complete list of what to expect. Want more info?  This is covered in more depth in my book, “Get the Best Deal When Selling Your Home in Silicon Valley“.

Can the buyer’s agent present the real estate purchase contract directly to the seller and listing agent in Silicon Valley?

Real estate contracts welcomeIt has become the norm for Silicon Valley residential real estate contracts to be emailed from the buyer’s agent to the listing agent.  In years gone by, that wasn’t the case – “live presentations” were the norm instead.  The buyer’s agent would ask the listing agent to set up an appointment and the two of them plus the seller(s) would meet, usually at the listing agent’s office but sometimes at the seller’s home, for this offer presentation. There are many advantages of presenting and receiving offers in person, despite its current lack of popularity.

The shift came with the prevalence of email and the privacy presumed to accompany it.  For awhile before email took off, some real estate professionals were faxing offers.  That saved time but seemed risky on a couple of levels.  It never seemed very secure until efax came along (taking faxes directly to one’s email). Most faxes in the early days of using that machine belonged to the office. Anyone hovering by the fax machine could see very well the paperwork coming through.   Just as seriously, though, it took away the ability to read the situation in person, to answer questions or to make a positive impression that would help the buyer’s odds of success. It was cold and impersonal.

Today, most Realtors presume that offers should arrive by email.  The better ones will ask: “How would you like to receive my offer?”  The openness to dropping off a sealed offer, present to the agent, present to the agent and seller, email, fax, or have delivered by courier pigeon – ok, kidding on the last one – indicates a willingness to go the extra mile and to get it done. (more…)

Is your lender keeping your offer from getting accepted?

Silicon Valley Home Seller Offer Elimination List It’s a red hot seller’s market in Silicon Valley right now, meaning that there are more buyers hunting for just the right property than there are listings available.  The end result is multiple offers, bidding wars, pre-emptive offers and rapidly escalating real estate prices in many areas and segments of the market.

When there are lots and lots of bids on a San Jose area home for sale, what do home sellers do?  Most of the time, sellers begin with an “elimination list”.  That is, they start by deciding what they do not want to deal with. The more offers there are, the more critical this becomes since sellers normally don’t love the idea of reading 10 or more stacks of offers.  (Remember, the confused mind says no!)

Sellers need to simplify their choices, and one of them is by eliminating the worst offers first.  A question for you to consider, if you’re a home buyer in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell or anywhere in Silicon Valley is this: is your lender keeping your offer from getting accepted?  Does your lender make your offer worse to the seller? Sometimes that is exactly the case.

In some cases, certain banks or even credit unions are falling into the “elimination” list for some sellers as their agents may have advised them those lending institutions are slow or difficult.  Most of the time, these are the big banks – the ones that REO or short sale listing agents are demanding that consumers use for a pre-approval for submitting offers: (more…)