As I work my way back into the market following the launch of my real estate firm, I am learning just how difficult it is from a buyer’s perspective. Specifically, I am trying to get a client into a $400-500k home in West Seattle. It turns out there are only a few thousand other people looking for the exact same thing, and a few dozen homes that fit the description. OK, I’m making these numbers up, but you get the drift. It’s tough out there.
Until this week, I had a high degree of respect for sellers and their agents who noted in the listing that the seller would consider all offers on a particular date in the future. This allows all interested buyers to really put their best foot forward, particularly by pre-inspecting so that the offer is not contingent on the inspection. Particularly in older neighborhoods like West Seattle, where homes routinely approach or exceed the century mark in age, sellers appreciate knowing that there will be no renegotiation based on the condition of the home.
So on Wednesday afternoon, I met my client at the “target” home where we were awaiting the arrival of our inspector for a pre-inspection. The seller was to consider offers on Friday morning. Buyers and an agent were inside, I assumed simply touring the home. Suddenly, the owner emerged from the house and announced she had just sold the house to the folks who were inside with her. As the kids say, WTF???
It turns out that the seller had every right to accept this offer, notwithstanding the “offers to be considered” date as stated in the listing. NWMLS rules specifically allow a selling agent to present an offer directly to the seller long before the stated “deadline.” So it turns out my anger and frustration at the seller, the listing agent, and the selling agent who pulled the coup were all misplaced. (I wouldn’t even rule out an apology, now that I know the rules.)
But it begs the question: Is that fair to buyers? What if my client had completed the pre-inspection? He would have been out-of-pocket money specifically in reliance on the seller’s and listing agent’s representation in the listing. And even without that expense, it seems unfair that a stated “deadline” can be wholly circumscribed by one buyer at the expense of all others. If it were up to me, the rules would be changed.