Multiple offers are common right now in the Silicon Valley real estate market. With them typically come overbids and sky high sales prices. Clair and I have shown several homes that our buyers did not bid on but which got many offer contracts and which sold for 15 – 20% over list price just over the last 30 days or so.
The hottest part of the market seems to be properties under $2 or $3 million, depending on the area.
When there are tons of buyers lining up to purchase a home, the sellers have usually put a substantial amount of time, energy, and money into making their property look fantastic, and they also take a risk in pricing it low to attract a large number of home buyers.
Multiple offers are common when property sells fast – but it doesn’t always!
When there aren’t multiple offers, it could be location issues, condition of the property (or neighborhood), overpricing (the most common culprit), difficulty in viewing the home, or other missteps on the selling side. Buyers today want a turnkey home in a superior location that’s in great shape – not remodeled 20 years ago or more – and they will pay a premium price for it.
When homes have been on the market for 3 weeks or more, this may be a great opportunity for buyers to be the lone bidder on it. Does it have the right things wrong? Can what is off be fixed? Is it only overpriced? I would suggest buyers focusing on all of the inventory and not just the hot new inventory.
Why is it that multiple offers are common now?
There are a couple of reasons why homes that are in great shape, priced low, and given good exposure to the market are selling so strongly now.
First, there is a dire shortage of inventory, or lack of supply. This is a chronic problem, but it’s acutely so now due to the higher interest rates and home owners not wanting to sell. It’s unlikely for this to change anytime soon, unfortunately.
Second, because Silicon Valley residential real estate has a long track record with good appreciation, those who can buy want to do so. Many are empowered by the rising stock market. If they are here for the long haul, buying makes more sense than renting.
Many are purchasing with more than 20% down, and they will watch for an opportunity to refinance.
Others are buying all cash. Those buyers may be anywhere from 15% to 35 % of the successful home buyers.
The inventory crisis will likely improve a little as the year goes on because inventory normally rises with the peak being somewhere in the summer most years. No guarantee – sometimes it doesn’t behave “as usual”.
How can you tell if a home is going to get multiple offers or what the selling price will be?
These are really two different, but related, questions. (more…)
Silver Leaf Park in the Santa Teresa area of San Jose
How’s the Santa Teresa real estate market? The scenic Santa Teresa area of San Jose is popular as it’s a bit more affordable, offering lovely views of the hills and public schools that seem to be improving over time making the area more desirable. These positives appear to be helping that district hold its value well. Here are a few details from the latest monthly market update for Santa Teresa single family homes (read the full analysis below):
Both the single family and condo / townhouse market are seller’s markets with extremelyfew available listings, per the latest monthly data.
Average and median sale prices have risen slightly month-over-month and year-over-year
Homes are selling extremely quickly with time on market speeding to a 5 day average, while market absorption slowed to a crawl at 105 days (though I don’t expect it to stay there for long)
The number of closed sales plummetted month-over-month, while pending sales and active inventory more than doubled. Compared to last year, closed sales and active inventory have fallen behind while pending sales are up a hair.
To begin our analysis below, we have some live data feeds broken up by zip code. Santa Teresa (our MLS Area 2) includes a small bit of the 95123 zip code, which is more expensive, but most of that zip code is Blossom Valley, so we will omit it. The 95138 zip code is about half Santa Teresa and half Evergreen (more expensive area), so take those numbers with a big grain of salt. I find the 95119 zip code to be most helpful, but even then, the school district is divided between Oak Grove and Morgan Hill.
Weekly update from Altos Research with a “market profile” of San Jose’s Santa Teresa area, zip code 95119 for single family homes / houses:
When there’s not enough data, the fields will be blank.
Are you losing out on multiple offers? If it’s happened repeatedly, you may be hoping for a lucky break. But luck usually has nothing to do with success.
The real estate market in Silicon Valley is a hot seller’s market, and that means that often there are multiple offers, overbids, and sales with no contingencies. This is often the case with homes that sell in 2 weeks or less. Some buyers may get it on the first attempt, but many are bidding over and over – why do they keep losing out on multiple offers?
Over the course of my career, I have noticed that often there is a consistent “spread” of offers. Most of the time, there’s a pack or band of offers at about the same level, sometimes 10% or more over list price, then a couple higher that that, and maybe one or two (once in awhile 3) at the top of the heap in terms of both price and terms which are attractive to the seller.
(There’s a video with my commentary on this below.)
Not everyone is losing out on multiple offers: what are the winners doing?
The top offer frequently has the highest price and best terms. They aren’t losing out on multiple offers because no one else was willing or able to write such a high, strong contract.
It is 10-20% over list price or more, 25-30% down at least, and has no contingencies for inspection, loan, and most of all, appraisal (the percentage over has to do with whether the home was priced spot on the value or strategically under). Please see the video below for more on these items.
The winning offer’s buyers and agent followed directions. Normally that means that they come with all disclosures signed, and the buyer’s agent has even done her or his Agent Visual Inspection Disclosure. They include the proof of funds (all needed) which prove that the buyer can absorb any appraisal shortfall and is prepared to do so. Sometimes the listing agent asks for a particular contract to be used or a particular summary sheet to be filled out. The best agents do all of that. The 2nd tier offers often are incomplete – the listing agents may or may not circle back and ask about missing items, so it’s important to remember that you only get one chance to make a first impression.
The best offer is also someone who’s been SURE that he or she or they wanted the home from the very beginning and looks ROCK SOLID. NO WAVERING, not a “last minute” offer. Any hesitation on your side will cause the seller to not feel good about your odds of closing the sale. Be consistently interested if you want the sale. A shaky looking buyer may not include their proof of funds. They don’t come across as certain about buying this property and need a few days to see the property again, or show it to their parents, or otherwise confirm the decision to buy. Their agent is not so thorough. If the TDS is not fully signed off, is the buyers’ agent trying to sneak a 3 day right of cancellation into the contract? The best buyer’s offer doesn’t look shaky – it looks dead set on buying the home and has done everything possible to convince the seller of their conviction and competence.
The second best or next runner up is usually strong on terms (at least 25% down, few or no contingencies) but perhaps made an offer price a little under the top value. Sometimes the next runner up has a good price and mostly good terms, but something is not quite as solid – they didn’t offer to put the deposit into the escrow account the next day, they didn’t check all the needed boxes in the offer, they have a contingency when all the competing bids have none.. If the offers are tied but one buyer has no contingencies and the other has any, that will be the tie-breaker.
Middle of the pack is usually a combination of a price where the home should appraise, a solid down payment, and few or no contingencies. It may be a price that seems “reasonable”. Buyers may feel that it is “a fair offer” or a win-win. Often the fair offers aren’t good enough to take the prize in multiple offers. If you can project what most buyers think a home will be worth, maybe you might want to consider getting ahead of that pack and seeing where the pricing trajectory will take you. The folks in the middle of the pack are usually the ones, together at the bottom, who keep losing out on multiple offers. (They will say things like “we are cautious…)
Bottom offers are under, at, orbarely over list price, and include an appraisal contingency as well as others (one for loan or one for property condition). If there’s a rent back, they want their PITI covered.
If you repeatedly find yourself losing out on multiple offers, try to see your own pattern in this spread. Is there one thing, or perhaps are there two or more things, you’re just not ready to do?
What do multiple offers look like to the sellers when receiving an offer? Click to view our post on popehandy.com and take a look at a side by side offer comparison sample.
What is a multiple counter offer, and how does it work?
Brief summary on how multiple counter offers work
Silicon Valley home sellers have an option to issue a Multiple Counter Offer form. This is not the same as a regular counter offer form.
With the standard counter offer form, if the other party accepts it, signs it, and delivers the signed copy back to the party that issued the counter offer, it’s then a ratified offer, a done deal. Not so when there are multiple counters in play.
With the multiple counter offer process, the seller decides after one or more of the buyers accepts (or if they counter back and forth, or if one buyer improves his or her offer). No matter the exact path, the seller ultimately must pick one offer and sign off on it to ratify the sale. In other words, when a buyer agrees to the multiple counter offer terms, it’s not a done deal. The owner must sign again to accept and select that buyer. Only then is the contract ratified.
2 minute video discussion on multiple counter offers – key points
If you lose out in multiple offers over and over, you’re not alone, but as prices rise, this isn’t a good pattern to be in. What can you learn from it?
Silicon Valley home buyers can have vastly different reasons for getting their offers rejected.
For many, the challenge is having a small down payment.
Others are very indecisive (and can’t decide fast enough, or cannot really commit enough to write a strong enough offer).
Some may have unrealistic expectations.
Some pride themselves on “being conservative” and routinely under price their offers.
Below we’ll go over the main issues, what you can learn from losing, and finally, a strategy to pull you out of multiple offers.
Small down payments and the competitive disadvantage
Having a less than 20% down payment may get an offer eliminated off the bat when there are multiple bids. The reasoning has to do with confidence that the bank will fund the loan and not get cold feet. The larger the down, the more secure the loan appears. When there’s more than 20% down available, the buyer appears more able to manage an appraisal shortfall, too.
FHA home buyers have the biggest challenge, for reasons explained previously. Those with 20% down payment have a really reasonable loan situation, but the trouble is that many other competitors do, too. With rising prices, appraisals are often a problem – and 20% down usually won’t solve it. So the more cash, the better, and cash is still king.
All cash offers
Having 30% or more will usually overcome appraisal hurdles. But those ubiquitous “all cash offers”, which comprise about 15% of all Santa Clara County home sales right now, will usually trump any other bid IF the price is attractive. Don’t be discouraged, though, as sometimes the all cash offers are the lowest offers with multiple bid situations in the San Jose area.
If you lose out in multiple offers for any other reason besides the down payment
With multiple offer situations in Silicon Valley real estate bids, sometimes buyers write an offer and later decide that it’s too much or too little, or that some other change is warranted (before it’s submitted). Can you change your purchase offer after it’s written, or is it a “done deal” once you’ve signed it?
The good news is that you can change your offer before it has been given to the listing agent / sellers. Many buyers do, either because they changed their mind or strategy, or because they just got new information. What is key is circling back to your buyer agent quickly, before the email is sent.
Why would you change your purchase offer?
Awhile back, some of my buyers were bidding on a San Jose home. As I asked the listing agent more questions and we got a little more information from that agent on the numbers of offers being received, my clients wanted to improve their offer. We redid page 1 of the contract, which is where all the financial basics are listed. Their improved offer went to the listing agent and it was seamless.
At other times, even after the offer is submitted, I have had buyers ask to improve their offer. The pages of the contract which were involved in the change were redone, signed and resubmitted. This is a bit like going through the counter offer process yourself. (more…)
It’s a little funny that when Silicon Valley home sellers and their listing agents get contracts or offers, many do not want to deal with issuing or negotiating counter offers. In many cases, it can go like this fictional bidding scenario:
Offer due date set, and let’s say there are 5 offers. Of the five, perhaps one is all cash, one is half cash, and the rest are 20-25% down. Most offers will be in a tight cluster of pricing (this is probably “true market value”). One may be far higher than the rest. Or perhaps two a little higher than the others.
The seller wants the highest price, no contingencies, and preferably, all cash.
If the all cash offer is non-contingent (no contingencies for inspection, loan or appraisal) and is the highest price, there will be a straight acceptance in almost all cases. No counters.
If the best combination of cash and contingencies and pricing is the half-cash offer, most likely the listing agent will phone that buyers’ agent and ask if those buyers would match the highest price. If those buyers say yes, one counter offer will be issued and it will have a short deadline for response.
If the “best combination” buyers say no, the listing agent and sellers will move to the next best offer, however they decide “best” looks, and phone them, giving them the opportunity to come up.
In these scenarios, meanwhile, the rest of the buyers and their agents wait – and hear nothing in the meantime.
Once in awhile, there are a few good offers that are all neck-and-neck, and perhaps there’s one flaky looking offer at a higher price. If that happens, the listing agent and sellers may issue a multiple counter offer to most or all bidders. That used to be really common, but today, I’m finding the most typical scenario is the “one phone call” approach instead. (more…)
What does it mean when real estate professionals, journalists and consumers refer to a “hot seller’s market“? Simply put, it means there’s an imbalance in the market which is very much in the seller’s favor. In terms of supply and demand, it translates to far more demand than available inventory for sale (supply). It’s a good time to sell, but a hard time to buy.
The Elements of a Hot Seller’s Market
We measure or note the market conditions using a variety of data points;
days to sell (and days on market for all homes, including unsold)
absorption rate (months of inventory, weeks or days of inventory)
number of listings available vs pendings and recently closed homes
rapid rise in home sale prices, especially if to unsustainable levels
number of offers received on a property at once (multiple offers)
buyers upping their price and improving their terms voluntarily, without getting a counter offer
buyers writing offers with few or no contingencies, fast close of escrow or other extremely strong terms
overall market trends of inventory lessening, prices rising, buyers getting more desperate – how all of these look when viewed as a whole
Basically, when buyers are competing against one another with multiple offers, when properties are selling quickly and over list price, and prices rise, the ball is in the seller’s court and you’ve got a hot seller’s market!
While some of the above can be easily tracked on our multiple listing service, some are not findable anywhere except in conversations with real estate agents who are actively working the market, writing and receiving contracts. What isn’t tracked includes the number of offers placed on a home for sale, whether buyers are engaging in “bidding war” tactics such as upping their price before even getting a counter offer, or offers with no contingencies.
A blind real estate offer is a purchase contract which is written by a buyer when the property is sight unseen. There are commercial properties, such as apartment buildings, in which this is the norm, and it’s not surprising for multi-family units such as duplex to fourplex properties. It is uncommon with single units or homes.
Right now we are in the midst of a Shelter In Place order due to the coronavirus pandemic. Current restrictions do not permit the showing of homes, inspections, or appraisals – though the latter two may change or get adjusted somewhat as this order persists. If you want or even need to find a property, how can you do it with this restriction? It is not advisable, but some would-be home owners are writing blind real estate offers.
It makes sense for a multi-unit property to be sold this way because the investor cares most about the numbers. How’s the cash flow? Are the reserves good enough? When will the driveway need repaving? All of these items address the question of whether or not it’s a good investment, a good business decision.
Blind real estate offer on your own future home
Buying a home that you are going to live in needs to make sense financially, but you also need to like it. You need to see if the home has enough light, if the rooms feel crowded or spacious. You must learn if there are floors out of level or odors or other issues undetectable from a virtual tour or series of photos.
Before the broad Shelter In Place order, I showed a home in Gilroy, and one of my clients had an allergic reaction in the house. Maybe it was the new carpet? Who knows – but it was imperative that we visit the property in person.
Blind real estate offers are dangerous since they curtail the buyer’s ability to have properly vetted the property. They are also dangerous for the seller, who can get the house tied up with a buyer who may or may not be willing to go through with the sale once the home is finally seen in person. If the Shelter In Place order continues for 2 or 3 months, which Governor Newsom suggested yesterday, it’s possible that access by appraisers or real estate agents may not be permitted for a long time. Long escrows carry their own risks.
Home 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:
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.
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.
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.) (more…)
Christie's International Real Estate Sereno, Los Gatos, CA 95030 408 204-7673 Mary@PopeHandy.com License# 01153805
Clair Handy, Realtor
Christie's International Real Estate Sereno 214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd Los Gatos, CA 95030 ClairHandy@sereno.com License# 02153633
Mary & Clair sell homes throughout Silicon Valley: Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Santa Cruz County. with a special focus on: San Jose, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell, Almaden Valley, Cambrian Park.
Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor ABR, AHWD, CIPS, CRS, SRES Christie's International Real Estate Sereno DRE License #01153805 408-204-7673 email@example.com “Helping nice folks to buy and sell homes in Silicon Valley since 1993”
Clair Handy, Realtor, GREEN Christie's International Real Estate Sereno DRE License #02153633 408-721-6160 firstname.lastname@example.org “Helping nice folks to buy and sell homes in Silicon Valley”
This is the Valley of Heart's Delight blog , covering Silicon Valley real estate - Santa Clara County, San Jose, Los Gatos, Cupertino, and nearby communities in the South Bay Area and lower Peninsula. Find info on neighborhoods, disclosure issues, buyer and seller tips, and housing market conditions in the west valley and most of the county.Please also see my other websites and real estate market statistics site, which are listed in the sidebar, above.
Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES Sereno DRE License #01153805 408-204-7673 email@example.com
“Helping nice folks to buy and sell homes in Silicon Valley since 1993”
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