I didn't get the house…WHY?

When there are multiple bids, and the price of the property is bidding up over the asking price, the amount of downpayment is sometimes the reason why your offer is not accepted.

Let’s say a property is put on the market at $275,000 and the highest offer is $315,000. There is an offer of $310,000 with 50% down and an offer of $315,000 with zero down. Usually the seller’s agent will advise the seller not to take the $315,000 offer, because she does not expect the property to appraise. While one can buy a house with zero down, that does not mean that the seller is willing to take the risks associated with a zero down buyer.

It is the seller’s agent’s job to know not only what they can get in the open market for a property, but also what obstacles might get in the way of the sale closing. These days, when an agent lists a property at $275,000, it is likely a price higher than the last few sales in the area and a price that will appraise, with some effort. When it bids up over that amount, the seller’s agent must be ready for what will happen if and when it does not appraise. Often that means that zero down buyers will not get the house, if there are other offers with larger downpayments, even if the other offers are for less money. A common result will be that the seller will counter the 20% down buyer with the highest price offered, regardless of escalator clause considerations.

This points back to my post noting that the appraisal is done for the lender. If the property appraises at $300,000 and the sale price is $315,000, the lender does not participate in the shortage. If it is a zero down loan and the buyer has no cash, the buyer will need the seller to reduce the price down to $300,000 for the transaction to close. The lender will only give the buyer 100% of the appraised value, without regard to the agreed upon sale price. If the buyer is a cash buyer, often there is no appraisal at all, since the appraisal is ordered by the lender.

This issue has come up in the last two offers I have presented. In fact, I lost a client who did not get the property because another offer at 20% down trumped her zero down offer. When she asked me to be more aggressive in getting her offer accepted, I explained that the seller’s agent made it clear that the 20% down buyer was going to get the property because they had 20% down and the agent knew the property would not appraise. There was just no way to get the seller to accept a zero down offer, with the costs included in the price, no matter what I did.

Buying your first property with zero down and the seller paying the closings costs is clearly possible, and is done every day. But often the zero down buyer, with no cash to pay their own closing costs, is excluded from purchasing the most popular house in the most popular neighborhood that has multiple offers.

Offering the highest price is of no consequence to the seller, if you can’t close.