Why is there so much paperwork required?With the crazy low inventory and high buyer demand in Silicon Valley today, it’s more important than ever to write a thoughtful, clean offer so that you do not lose out in multiple offer situations.  When I am on the receiving end, that is, when I’m the listing agent on a house or home which gets lots of bids, it’s easy to eliminate some offers quickly. Don’t let it happen to you!

What can make your offer not have much of a chance of acceptance or even for receiving a counter offer?  Price is always a big deal, and so are the main terms around issues like repairs, time frames and of course the amount or percentage of cash down payment.  But you might be surprised at the little things that sloppy buyers and their agents do wrong. They can be tie breakers, so don’t undervalue them.  Here’s a quick list:

  1. Not including a pre approval letter
  2. Not including a copy of the initial deposit check
  3. Not making the initial deposit for a full 3%
  4. Not pulling the disclosures before drafting the contract
  5. Not putting the correct title company name on the check or in the offer
  6. Leaving blanks where there should be information (such as when closing is to happen)
  7. Not following instructions.  This is a biggie!
    • If the listing agent says “call first before drafting offer”, do it.
    • If the contract should be submitted in a sealed envelope, do not email it instead.
    • If the agent requests emails, not calls – do it.
    • Buyers’ agents who do not follow instructions going into a sale (the courtship period) look like they will be difficult in escrow!  If there’s an equally strong offer from a “good” agent, guess which one will get the opportunity to sell the property?

All of this takes time.  It takes time to download the disclosures alone (some agents do not make one large zip file, but require individual downloads – yesterday I got 34 different pdfs on one property!).  It takes time to get ahold of your lender and find out how many days will be needed for contingencies on loan and appraisal.  It takes time to review the disclosure package, sign it, and make thoughtful decisions about the purchase agreement prior to completing and signing it, to say nothing of going through the contract line by line the first time you draft an offer.

Because it’s so hard to buy a house in the San Jose – Silicon Valley area right now, it’s imperative to do it right.  Many listing agents set an offer deadline of somewhere between Monday and Wednesday following the first open house weekend.  If you can see homes on Saturday (rather than Sunday) and decide which property to bid on, you will give yourself and your Realtor a little more breathing room.  It’s very hard to do a good job if you decide just 12 or 18 hours before the deadline that you want to throw your hat in the ring.  I encourage buyers to give themselves (and their real estate agent) at least 24 hours, but 48 or more is better so that it doesn’t get frantic.   Remember, we never know how many of our buyers may want to jump on a property at any given time, and it’s possible that several will all want to write on something due on a Monday.  That’s pretty hectic, so if we can avoid a time clash, it’s better for everyone.


For more reading on the topic of writing a good real estate purchase contract in the San Jose area:

How To Increase The Odds That Your Purchase Offer Will Be Rejected (written when it was still a buyer’s market – but many offers were rejected even then because of dumb offer writing errors).

Multiple offer contract writing tips – a series of articles

Tips for Writing a Competitive Offer  Part 1

Writing an Offer in a Multiples Situation? Financing Tips Part 2

Writing Strong Offers: More Financing Tips Part 3

Tips for Home Buyers Competing Against Multiple Offers – More Financing Tips Part 4

Competing Against Multiple Offers: Contingencies and Timeframes Part 5

Real Estate Purchase Offer Terms to Consider When Competing in Multiple Offers  Part 6

Sometimes the List Price Isn’t the Expected Sales Price, So Run Comps!

The Advantages of Presenting and Receiving Offers In Person





  • 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.

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