Hey, that's not fair – can the Seller DO that?!?

Over the years, often the hardest part of this business is dealing with the “unfairness” of the realities of the real estate transaction.  Even when everything is going exactly as it should, often someone is thinking that “It Just Isn’t FAIR!”

When that someone is a newer agent, it is very difficult for me.  I try to hint them into the right direction, but their lack of experience causes them to be defensive, instead of listening between the lines for what I am trying to tell them.  In Multiple Offer situations,  I simply cannot be more direct.  That would be unfair to the other agent and their client, who “has their act together”. 

Here’s a very recent example:

I receive an offer from a newer agent on one of my listings.  It has major weaknesses.  Price is a bit on the lowball side.  “Story” makes no sense and points out weaknesses in the buyer’s stance, warns of potential buyer remorse or someone “tying up the property” until they know if they have the job offer in Seattle.   Escrow time frame is longer than the norm, and the house is vacant…so short escrow should have been used. Home Inspection timeframe is at max point.   Lots of loose ends.

First I try to work the agent into getting the offer in better shape, but of course the other agent wants me to do that from “my end” with a counter offer.  Sure…that’s OK…but sometimes OK is not good enough for their buyer client.  OK is only good enough if they are the only offer.  No one has a crystal ball with regard to what is happening with other buyers in the marketplace.  So depending on a counter from the seller to “fix” the offer is not a smart thing to do, and is not “good enough”.

Most of you have guessed by now what happened.  Another offer comes in.  A soon as I know one is coming in, I call the agent who has an offer already submitted and say, “I have received word that there will be another offer”, that’s all I can tell you.  I get many calls from the first agent…but nothing in writing.  Lots of verbal. Lots of inappropriate reactions like “You said the seller would counter”.  NEW BALLGAME! Sorry, what I said an hour ago is no longer VALID!

No modification of first offer in writing signed by the buyer.  Second offeror knows there is an offer in hand…but knows no detail of the first offer.  Second offer is a slam dunk winner.  First offer is still playing verbal tag and begging us to counter them and whining that three hours ago I said…  Oh well!  Things CHANGE!  There is no methodical sequence here, even though it would make your life easier.  S..t happens and you have to know how to DANCE in this business!  Seriously, all agents should be required to take dancing lessons at Arthur Murray or something, before given a pen and a paper with blanks on it.

A seller is not going to counter a weak offer, once a strong offer is in hand.  Why would they?  Why should they? 

First agent says “Well can’t the seller counter US because we were first?  I put what the buyer told me to put, isn’t that what I am supposed to do?”

Depending on a counter in multiple offer is just naive.  Often the “best man” just wins and sometimes the “best man” is the agent and not the buyer…and that is truly the crying shame of it.  As to “putting what the buyer says to put in the blanks”…no, that is not the totallity of your job.  That is the lowest common denominator position.

I write the offer as if I am buying it, using my perception of this buyer’s thoughts on the house.  I factor in how much they like it and how disappointed they will be if they do not get it.  That differs from buyer to buyer and from house to house.  I give the offer “fully completed” to the buyer showing what they SHOULD put “in the blanks”.   Then we discuss each “blank” and they can modify what I have “recommended”.  I show them how to fill in the blanks in the manner that they should, in order to be successful at what they are trying to accomplish…again that differs from buyer to buyer and house to house. This way at least if they do not get the house because they change my recommendation, they learn something.  Maybe they learn to trust my experience, skill and knowledge.  They learn something.

Once you submit a weak offer and another offer comes in, change it, in writing, and FAST…IF you get the opportunity to do so.  Many then ask:  But how do I know there is REALLY another offer?  Trust me.  We know.  We can tell.  Maybe someday someone will figure out how to put one over on those of us who can tell when they are lying (which is EXTREMELY RARE), but I find that those who have the audacity to lie are also bad liars.  Escalator clause helps, but not really.  If you are tightening up the date, reducing the home inspection timeframe, cleaning up the offer as to terms and not price…an escalation clause won’t help you, if there are no other offers. You need to have an agent who can dance, and who can tell a con from a truth better. 

Best move is to understand that an offer is a give and take.  If you are trying to beat on price, then give stellar terms.  If you want to stretch timeframe or be contingent, then don’t beat on price at the same time. 

Those who try to make it a Win/Lose…usually end up the loser.  May not be fair…but just how it is.

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: ardelld@gmail.com cell: 206-910-1000

80 thoughts on “Hey, that's not fair – can the Seller DO that?!?

  1. A seller may not want to counter that weak offer but if they are going to reject the offer it is in their best interest to at least strike out the front page, write “rejected” and the date and send it back to the buyer’s agent. It’s documentation on the Seller side that the offer was presented, seen, and considered. As a listing agent I make this recommendation to my clients to lessen any liability to them.

  2. Granted, it sounds like the buyer’s agent described in this situation was rather naïve, but comments like “NEW BALLGAME! Sorry, what I said an hour ago is no longer VALID!” and “Oh well! Things CHANGE!” make you come across as unnecessarily rude (even if you didn’t actually say those exact words to the agent).

    Would it have been that hard to tell the buyer’s agent up front something like: “We’ll send a counter-offer… unless we get another better offer in the meantime. I highly recommend you send us a better offer yourself, or you’re likely to be left in the cold.” Seems like a little courtesy like that would have avoided the “begging and whining,” and still taught the agent a lesson when they were beat out by a more competent offer, just as you said they might be.

  3. Reba,

    That only works when there is only one offer. With two offers in hand, one is accepted. The other may be a back up if needed, so the agent SHOULD NOT do as you just suggested, in this scenario. Keep both cards, you just might need that second one in a couple of days. The first agent should be cleaning up the offer in case the deal falls on inspection. The first agent should be getting into back up position. NO WAY would I reject that offer in the manner recommended. That would not be in the best interests of my seller client.

  4. Tim,

    I’m sending the message loud and clear and abrasively on the blog, because I cannot do that when the scenario is actually happening. That’s the beauty of a blog! It’s an excellent reference tool.

    That is the point and message. One cannot expect the agent of the seller to make things work out for the clients of the two or three or four buyer’s agents. And yet that is what happens. I should not talk to any of them period while it is happening. Ball is in their court.

    Nice doesn’t get the message through, and I HAVE to be nice in the situation, and I am. But not so on the blog. Obviously Tim…I WAS nice and guess what, the other agent’s buyer suffered because I was nice. If I had banged it out, it would have been better for their client.  But I can’t do that…so I alert buyers here so they can make sure they don’t have an agent who says, “Oh, we’ll get a counter.”  As soon as your agent tells you there will be a counter, if you really like the house…say let’s revise it now and not wait for a counter.

    This is “transparency”. Transparency is the hard facts. You don’t always get a second chance and the seller’s agent can’t help the buyer’s agent if there is more than one.

    You have no idea how many agents call me from a boat or a picnic on the weekend and say “Make that happen for my client, OK?” and then come round Monday whining about how they depended on me, the seller’s agent, to get their buyer the house.

  5. I guess I am confused then. If you clearly (and politely) stated what you would and would not do, what is the other agent “whining” about? You simply kept your word.

    In your original post it sounds like you said something to the effect of “you should shape up your offer, but if you insist, we’ll send a counter-offer,” then when you got another offer it turned into “sorry, we got another offer, you won’t be getting a counter.” Newbie or not, I can understand someone being a bit perturbed at that.

    I’m just saying why didn’t you make it clear up front that “I don’t promise to do anything for you if a better offer comes along.”

    Maybe you did that and I’m just mis-reading your post.

  6. Ahhh Tim, but that’s the point. Be the SELLER here. That IS what actually happens. You can talk to the other agent ONLY if they are the only offer. Once a fab offer hits your hand…I will say it again without shouting this time…New Ballgame. All bets are off. Second offer stepped up to the plate. First offer is inadequate. No counter.

    It is a misnomer to think there will be a counter. The minute a buyer knows the offer is not going to cut it, and I went through everything that was inadequate and why BEFORE the second offer hit my hand, they should have been writing a new offer.

    Once I have the second offer, I have to clam up IF the first offer is perfectly acceptable. Sometimes I even shut the phone off.

    This is not a game of nicey, nicey agent to agent. Multiple Offers is you win or you don’t…you snooze you lose.

    I should not have to tell an agent “if a better offer comes along”. They are getting paid over $20,000 for this little job of winning…I shouldn’t have to lead them through their job. In fact they are making many thousands more than I am for this transaction.

    Why are they whining? Because they are not going to make any money…of course. Only one winner gets paid, that’s why they are whining. If they would simply focus on the buyer and getting them the house instead of hoping for a check…things would be quite different.

  7. Tim,

    “Would it have been that hard to tell the buyer’s agent up front something like: “We’ll send a counter-offer… unless we get another better offer in the meantime”

    Think about it this way, would you ever tell a customer, we appreciate you business, but only if another better client doesn’t come in while you are here? Of ocurse not.

    Until I have another offer…this offer is GOLDEN and I’m WORKING it and talking about other offers that don’t exist could scare them away. Not good for the seller for me to do that. In fact, if the offer that comes in SECOND sucks and the FIRST one is stellar, I may not even tell the first offeror that there is a second offer.

    Seller’s best interest when the listing agent. Buyer’s best interest when the buyer’s agent. Unlike you, we do not play both sides of the fince simultaneously. You are dual…we are not.

  8. Ardell, we both know there are more circumstances involved in the discussion of an offer with a client than what we’ve both been able to post here. There is no real finite answer but if one of the offers is sub-par and the seller isn’t interested in having them in a back up position then why would you? If the seller is willing to do a counter offer on a back up they certainly have the right to do it as long as the buyer knows that’s what they’re getting (back up). If you didn’t negotiate better terms and just accepted the lesser offer as a back up, what if another back up buyer showed up with better terms? Would you, as the agent, be potentially liable to your seller if you didn’t explain the option? There are way too many moving parts in a RE transaction to really be able to say definitively how it should go.

  9. It’s not up to the listing agent to explain to the buyers’ agent how to do what they’re supposed to do. A listing agent shouldn’t have to explain that if a better offer comes in the interim that all bets are off. The other agent ought to know that.

    If they’re new they may not. But that’s some of the risk a buyer takes when they hire an inexperienced, possibly unqualified, agent.

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  11. Thanks Jonathan. I really do try to at least nudge them in the right direction if they are newer…but that doesn’t seem to work. The light bulb just doesn’t “go on”. And I simply cannot tell them how they can beat out the other offer…that is not fair to the other agent and the other agent’s buyer.

  12. With all due respect, Reba. You are still missing the point.

    We are talking about the Buyer Agent doing what they need to do for their Buyer Client. It is not my job to work that second offer into a backup offer. It is the Buyer Agent’s job to position their own Buyer Client.

    From the seller’s standpoint…would the seller ever be best off with a contract from an agent who needs step by step instructions? What else might they not know down the line? We might rather have a completely different offer. So I’m not going to tell the agent how to turn it into a back up offer…but if she submitted it as a back up, we would of course respond.

    If and when I might need a different offer, which is very rare, I still don’t want to REJECT their offer in case I do need to go find them later. A “sorry, someone had a better offer” will sit better and keep the buyer in play unless they find a different house. A REJECTION might be burning a bridge I need to cross later.

  13. Ardell, I agree that every agent should have enough to smarts to know that all options are the seller’s when it comes to multiple offers until the home is under contract. When the agent I’m negotiating with says, “we will bring you a counter-offer” I don’t have to be told that the situation will change if a golden cow lands in his client’s lap in the mean time.

    I’m confused on the debate of reject vs. not. Though I see little value in writing “rejected” across the offer, isn’t an offer which is not accepted, rejected? What value does the offer have in two days?

    I’m not really sure what a golden cow is either though, but it’s the first thing that pooped into my mind and it sounded attractive, even though it’s a cow, cause it’s golden, you know?

  14. “What I’m REALLY saying, Norm, is if someone swoops in with a golden cow…and your client really wants it, then bring your own golden cow with no inspection contingency. Maybe the seller will flip to your buyer, if the first buyer gets unreasonable over petty inspection mainentance junks.”

    Again, pretty obvious if you ask me. In my area it’s not the least bit unusual for sellers to withdraw counter offers prior to acceptance if something better comes along while buyer 1 is still mulling it over and most agents understand that. It’s just the way it goes.

    “I’m a big Cheers fan”

    Before real estate, I sold radio and my sales manager’s name was Cliff. Sometimes we made calls together and it always brought a smile when I said, “could you tell her Norm and Cliff are here.”

  15. Norm,

    “pretty obvious”? If only it were so…maybe when I die and go to heaven. My kind of “Field of Dreams” scenario. Too many cooks in the kitchen…and some of them are still trying to figure out how to boil an egg.

    Cliff and Norm…Yes!

    I used to have a Relocation Lender Specialist on my “Rolodex” 🙂 named Scott Sell…and no kidding here…his partner’s name was Brian House. I said you two guys need to get into the real estate business. They worked for Wells Fargo out of…Minneapolis maybe. They did those special relo loans for relocating buyers. Scott Sell and Brian House. They must have gotten those names at the Courthouse.

  16. Derek aka DSB,

    I don’t think any State has a “policy” on that. I assume you mean me, as the seller’s agent, sending a memo to the buyer direct and not through the buyer’s agent. What would the memo say…”Tell your agent to get on the stick! LOL

    Seriously if you tell me who sends the memo to whom and what it generally would say…I can tell you the answer, and it will pretty much be a national one and not a state one.

    In my scenario, the seller has a great offer in escrow…so I would not be sending any memos to the buyer who didn’t get it. Let them think “it was just…one of those things”.

    I’m just trying to enlighten the buyers who read this, so if their offer is “going to be countered” and they really like the house, they TELL their agent to get that amended offer over to the other agent NOW!!

  17. In some instances, a seller may wish to ask the buyer to consider changes to the submitted Offer to Purchase and Contract but does not want to reject the offer as submitted.

    The Memo to Buyer simply tells the buyer what item(s) on the contract the seller would “favorably consider” if changed. This differs from a counter-offer because the seller has not made changes to the original offer. Unless the original offer expires or is withdrawn, it is still alive and the seller can still sign it and accept it.

  18. I was in this situation today. We made our best offer on the first shot, it was strong and clean, but … one of the competing offers was just more money.

    We did our best, but as I told my clients, at least our first shot was our best and the “what if” would be more painful than the loss.

  19. Jim,

    Not saying this is true in your case, but the last time an agent told me he was bringing a VERY STRONG and clean offer, it was $50,000 under asking. Closed Monday…three offers…his was the lowest.

    Strong is in the eye of the beholder…apparently

  20. Derek,

    Don’t you think the Buyer’s Agent would see through that and tell the buyer that the seller is probably sending a memo instead of a counter so they can accept the offer as is?

    Don’t see the sense in that. What you are really saying is the offer is “acceptable” in current form. If the seller has been waiting for an offer for awhile and it is acceptable…I wouldn’t toy with the situation.

  21. Looks like it favors the seller only and not the buyer. What holds the seller to the memo if the buyer agrees? It doesn’t bind the seller? Sounds like horseplay to me. I don’t know why a buyer would put up with that one sided scenario. You must not have Buyer Agency there.

  22. Nope the memo basically says, hey this is nice but not nice enough. Change this and submit another offer and we’ll talk. We’ll consider what the seller has to say, but ultimately it’s the buyer’s decision to make the purchase so. My job is to tell my buyer what I think – good or bad and let him decide.

    With the counteroffer if the buyer accepts the new terms, the seller is in trouble if he decides to continue negotiations with other buyers and one of them accepts at the same time.

    I think we have a misunderstanding about the memo – not sure you guys use it, or perhaps you do but it is something different. I know a lot of times on my blog, I can write something like caveat emptor
    (we are a cavet emptor state) or talk about how North Carolina is a “pure race” state and no one has a freaking clue what I am talking about. I discuss financing such as being a deed versus a mortgage state and I get blank looks. “Metes and bounds” in surveying does the same thing. Here in North Carolina, we are one of the original 13 colonies so people here (including buyers and sellers) know exactly what is being said (provided that they grew up here and attended NC schools), but someone from say, California; they have not a clue.

    Like my co-blogger Monica Villasenor, she is in NV and half of the time when I write, she has no idea what I am talking about because we do thinks so differently and neither one of us can really explain the differences – or at least find the right words.

  23. Derek,

    I am from Philadelphia and have worked 8 years up and down East Coast and 8 years up and down West Coast. So I understand Metes and Bounds vs most of the Country. But it’s fairly irrelevant now that “I’ve looked at things from both sides now”.

    The closest thing I know to “memo” type offers is in parts of Jersey and New York. A “Proposal to Purchase” in non binding form goes around until and attorney eventually gets in at the end…contract stage.

    Most areas have offers on binding contracts and all writings in binding form. That works better for all parties, and is not so one sided, and leaves less room for the rug being pulled out from under the consumer when they think they have an understanding.

    It really is better for the consumer, and the Seattle Area has some of the very best consumer oriented laws and forms in the Country.

  24. And a different thought from a different market (We had extreme multiple offer situations a couple years ago – now L.A. has returned to a buyer’s market) :

    If and when your market cools off, that first buyer just might congratulate their agent for having the good sense to stop them from overpaying for a property. The second, winning buyer may end up kicking him/herself.

  25. Ardell –

    No, we were in a price range where $50k was about 25% of the sales price. The house was simply well-priced, was on the market for two days, and there is very little quality inventory in that price range.

    Bu no, sometimes the “best” offer is not the one with for the most money.

  26. Cheryl,

    I hear ya. I think both Jim and I are talking about real life current situations where that is not likely as we, at least I, am not talking about a “bid out” war…just a weak offer and a strong offer.

    How bad is it there? I’ll have to get myself a Beach Reporter and check it out 🙂

  27. Jim,

    Yes, for sure, it’s not all about price. That is why I urge agents not to reveal “weaknesses” in attitude. That reminds me of something I promised to write “with” Noah-Urban Digs.

  28. You did the right thing, Ardell.

    I wouldn’t reject the first offer, either. Even when offers are very low, I suggest we counter. Sometimes you get fruit from that tree.

    And you aren’t getting paid to educate buyer’s agents. You are getting paid to represent the best interests of your clients – which, from what I can tell, you have done.

    I might need to write a similar article about this…

  29. Doug,

    I was over at your place the other day. Wondering how things are going outside the blog…company wise. You can email me offblog if you like.

    As to your comment, my bigger concern is the interaction of agents in a group blog. Clearly had Reba written an article about rejecting offers by striking out the first page (kinda like slapping the buyer in the face to me), I would NOT have posted a comment on HER entry disputing her, unless it was a misrepresentation of some kind. She certainly can strike out people’s contracts, and say so on one of her own posts. But to jump into mine, puts me in a difficult spot. I have to make the “correction” to readers of my article. Tight spot for me.

    Group Blog Etiquette is in infancy stage. Multiple agents posting on the same blog can cause problems and hard feelings. I try to stay away from the articles of other agents on this blog out of “courtesy” to one another.

    I think the etiquette is you can write a new article with an opposing view. You can return comment of other bloggers if they come into “your face”.   But to run over to someone else’s article, as fellow writers on the same blog to disagree, and be the first one to run in?  Set’s a whole different chain of events into motion, and possibly some hard feelings in the give and take of that.  The lawyers and I do it 🙂  So I’m a little used to it.  But two agents having at it from the same blog?

    I “have at it with” Jonathan or you over issues I think will advance the industry as a whole, but no “procedural or client advice” differences.  Maybe I’m not seeing this right.  Maybe there is no difference if it’s an agent from “outside” vs. “inside” or type of discussion.  Just feels odd.  Not sure…new technologies equals some discussion needed.

    If we were in the same office, for example, and I hear another agent telling their client something different than I would say, would I walk in to correct the agent in front of their client? Maybe 🙂 Seems same logic would apply.

    It would be like one writer of the newspaper, sending a published letter to another writer of the same newspaper, arguing with the first writer. Seems odd. I’m sure journalists don’t do that within their same shop. They might a few days later give their views on the topic in a different fashion…but not jump into the other persons’s article like that.

    Group Blogs – I’ve been asked to be interviewed on the topic and have declined, as it is still an etiquette to be established from experience.  In that sense.  We are clearly the pioneers.

  30. Ardell; Thread-Drifting to answer your question. In our part of L A the market is quite active, not bad at all. But prices are much softer.

    Case in point: Client bought his property in 2002. In 2005 it appraised at $650,000 and client refinanced accordingly. Life change comes along in 2006, and the property is now on the market in the upper 500s. The offer in hand is in the LOW 500s, and not enough to pay off the refi.

    And of course, the money pulled out in 2005 is long gone and funds are not available to cover the short fall. Since it was a cash out refi, lender is not terribily interested in allowing a short payoff.

    And so it goes.

  31. Well Cheryl,

    We’ve always had over-appraise-for-refi issues in every market. I want to hear if anyone is selling at a loss. Bad appraisals happen every day. Not a market indicator.

    Not sure where you are. I’ve been trying to track the sale of 714 Manhattan Beach Blvd. in Manhattan Beach. If and where that sells will tell me where your market is. It was listed close to where it last sold 6 months prior. I’ll have to go see if it is still on R.com. While the sale would have been a loss after costs for the owner…if it sold at least at where it was purchased, then that market will be flat…but that market tends to be flatter (as all are) after summer until Spring.

    Refi-horror stories are not signs the market is down. They are signs that people over spent their equity…not relevant to market conditions. Californians may have to learn how to not live off their equity…not a bad thing.

    Give me another one LOL! I’m throwing that one back.

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  33. I found this blog during a search and have gained quite an insight into the mind of a Real Estate agent. Maybe someone can help me understand. If your job as a seller’s agent is to get the best deal possible for your client, how does stonewalling a buyer’s agent help you accomplish that? By not offering any pertinent information to the agent, how can they advise their client of how to adjust their offer to compete? Doesn’t it just make sense to encourage the other agent to better the offer which may yield a better deal for your client? A multiple offer situation is exaclty something I would think you want for your client. Not so that you can pick one offer over another, but so you might improve both offers. If the lower offer doesn’t have a chance or is way off from the higher offer, just say so. Who wouldn’t understand that position?

    Both The Tim and Reba seem to be suggesting that if you advise the buyer agent that a better offer exists, they may advise to create a better offer, leading to more options for your client. Open communication leading to a smoother, more lucrative transaction. Ardell seems to suggest that she can’t be bothered with that. Learn the business, learn to dance, learn to read into what I’m saying, learn to read minds.

    In one breath Ardell says “Seller’s best interest when the listing agent. Buyer’s best interest when the buyer’s agent. Unlike you, we do not play both sides of the fince simultaneously. You are dual. we are not.”, and in another she says “And I simply cannot tell them how they can beat out the other offer, that is not fair to the other agent and the other agents buyer.”

    Which is it? Are you for the seller, buyer agent number one, or buyer agent number two? If we trust your first statement that the seller is your interest, why not offer information to the first offer to try and get a more competitive offer for your client? Buyer number two can also counter if they are interested in the property. Either way, your client wins.

    I find it really baffling how some agents turn the process into a game instead of serving as a go-between for sellers and buyers, smoothing out the process with the expertise and experience they have gained over time. How many properties does the average person purchase or sell over their lifetime? An agent should be acting in the best interest of whomever they represent. The scenario Ardell paints in her article doesn’t allow that for any party, except maybe the agent with the second, better offer.

    The way I see it, a little more clarity only serves to make the process easier for all involved. Sellers, buyers, and agents.

    And as an insight into the type of person who wrote this article, I think post number 35 says it all. Ardell doesn’t seem to get the whole idea of a blog. While you are calling this a group blog, it really is more of a bulletin board where the contributors and readers all have free flow ideas on each post. I love how she talks about how she would have shown a little respect to Reba while peppering the post with criticism and personal attacks. I thought Reba’s posts were respectful and offered another idea on the subject, just as if she were an outside reader. What help would it be for her to go write her own article on the subject? This is where the discussion is taking place. If you as a writer want the “newspaper” scenario described, go write for a newspaper.

    The whole idea behind this technology is to advance the communication between people, not preach from a soap box with minimal back and forth between parties. But then, that brings us back to my confusion about this subject to begin with.

  34. “Which is it? Are you for the seller, buyer agent number one, or buyer agent number two?”

    Sorry I missed this comment with it dropping off the sidebar. Sometimes, but not often, the buyers are not told if there are two offers, if one is really bad. It is a judgment call. If you have a great offer and a bad offer, often the seller is best off just taking the great offer and not scaring them away.

    As the seller’s agent, we are never “for the buyer or buyer’s agent”, but the seller is not best served by revealing the bids, unless it is an auction sale. If you tell the buyer the other buyer’s offer is $415,000, they will just bid $416,000, and that is not fair to the other buyer. Better to tell them both that there are two offers if they are both acceptable. This is more fair to the buyers than revealing their offers, and gives the seller the opportunity of getting a price that is not just “a hair over”. All around for all parties, a more fair and better policy.

    But there are no rules. Price is not always the primary consideration. If one is zero down and one is 30% down, it is often better to simply counter the strongest buyer. Highest price but doesn’t close serves no one.

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