Is Another Offer REALLY Coming?

[photopress:We_20Hate_20Truth.jpg,thumb,alignright]As soon as it becomes apparent that my Buyer Client is interested in making an offer on a property, the first thing I do (usually within seconds) is call the Listing Agent.

While I always do this, what I say to that agent is not always the same.

Many people think the conversation should go like this: Buyer’s Agent asks direct questions like, “Hi, I am getting ready to write an offer on your listing at 123 This Street, do you have any other offers?”  That is really, in my opinion, the worst way to handle the situation.  It kind of falls into the category of “Ask me no questions; I’ll tell you no lies.”  I wish I had a nickel for every new agent who thought the Listing Agent SAID there was another offer, when that is NOT what the listing agent said at all. 

In fact, the biggest mistake newer agents make, is thinking that the Listing Agent is being helpful HA!  Give me a break!  AS IF!

Sometimes I’m a Listing Agent, myself.  I’m not saying Listing Agents lie anymore than Buyer’s Agents lie.  But clearly the truth is “worked”.  I admire a good Listing Agent who “works his truth”.  You have to have a trained ear.  Somewhat like a musician who can hear when his guitar needs tuning, or a voice coach who can pick up a flat note.  Actually most agents are terrible liars, and I’ve called a few bluffs in my time with great success.  But rather than go in that direction in the first place, better to shift the focus entirely from the getgo.

There’s always a better way, and generally that better way leads to getting the Listing Agent to spill his guts, without your revealing a thing about your client’s intentions.  Of course it depends on how experienced and sharp the listing agent is, and whether you are catching them at the right moment.  By calling immediately, within seconds of knowing my buyer client MAY be making an offer, I can get info without telling any lies.

I pick up the phone and say, “Hi Joe, I’m IN your listing at 123 This Street…”  Most agents call BEFORE they show the property and ask, “Is your listing still available?”  How annoying is that?!  It’s like saying, “Hi, I want to make sure I’m not working too hard for nothing, can you help me with that?”  By calling from INSIDE the property, and saying that in the first 3-7 words, the agent knows you aren’t one of those “wasting-his-time-checking-availability” agents. 

If agents knew how their words and actions affect their clients, they would all be taking “How to Say IT” lessons”…oh forgot…no class on that one.  But plenty of classes on Feng Shui…how FUN! 🙁

Ok, so you’ve got the listing agent on the phone, and the goal is to keep him on the phone as long as you can, talking about crap.  “Joe, is there a Form 17 Online?”  or “Joe, I was just wondering, since the house is vacant, if the owners need more than the average time to respond to offers?”  or “Joe, I’m here in your listing at 123 This Street with my Buyer Clients and they asked if the new roof, noted in the listing, is a 25 year shingle or a 30 year shingle.  Can you check that for them, and get back to me on that?”  (the ending of that last question is very important.  Don’t expect the Lisiting Agent to know that off the top of his head.  You don’t want him to feel stupid or you set the wrong tone.  Counter-productive.)

The Listing Agent will usually answer your question and ask “Are you writing an offer?”  By having called within seconds of your Buyer Client being “maybe” interested, and not waiting until you are actually talking with your buyer client about writing an offer, you can honestly say: “I MIGHT be writing an offer, not sure yet.  They are definitely interested, but we’re still going through the house.”  At this point the Listing Agent usually starts spilling his guts.

How the Listing Agent does that takes many, many forms.  The goal is to get them talking.  Usually you do not ever have to ask if there is another offer.  If there really IS another offer, the agent would likely have said it already.  Those that spill their guts for 20 minutes, and THEN try to throw in at the end of the conversation, some vague reference to “maybe another offer coming”, are actually funny.  They kind of sound like the two year old, looking up at Mommy with their hand in the cookie jar, trying to convince Mommy that they really weren’t going to EAT the cookie 🙂

I absolutely will tell a Buyer’s Agent the TRUTH when I am the Listing Agent.  But most times I can “work” that truth in a way that leads the Buyer’s Agent to believe there might be another offer.  I can’t tell you exactly how that’s done, or I won’t be able to ever do it again 🙂  But I do not lie, ever, and most times the Buyer’s Agent erroneously tells their buyer client that I said there was another offer, when I did NOT say that at all.

Again, if I had a nickel for every time I heard a new agent say, “The Listing Agent SAID there was another offer” when the listing agent NEVER said that…  What the new agent is doing is thinking more about getting paid, than about their client’s best interests.  They are listening to the Listing Agent for signs of what they should do next, like maybe write an offer for MORE than they otherwise would have.  And that is exactly what the Listing Agent wanted them to hear.

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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: cell: 206-910-1000

36 thoughts on “Is Another Offer REALLY Coming?

  1. Hey Ardell,

    Great tips on “tricks of the trade” from the selling agent’s perspective. I know you said you “can’t tell us”; but still it seems you should write something about what you’d do from the listing agent’s perspective…you can always come up with new, I’m sure, right??? 🙂

  2. Hey Joe,

    Change that from “the selling agent’s perspective” to from “The Buyer’s Agent’s perspective”, and I’d be happy to oblige.

    I like your style Joe, generally speaking here, on the various comments you have made at RCG over the last several days. I haven’t “talked” with you much, because I pretty much always agree with you 🙂 Just thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you that.

    Most people around here know that I am on a Campaign to strike some words from our vocabulary, like “leads” and “selling agent” and “listing agent”. I’ll use “listing agent” once in a while when “seller’s agent” is not quite as appropriate.

    But saying Buyer’s Agent instead of “selling agent” is an idea whose time has come, and long overdue…like 15 years overdue. So it’s either Listing Agent and Buyer’s Agent or Seller’s Agent and Buyer’s agent. But NEVER “Sell-ING” agent, cause Buyer’s Agents don’t sell nuthin’ 🙂

    I know you will agree on that, cause you and I are very simpatico, best I can tell so far. Maybe I’ll do a “back to back” reverse post, my being the agent on the phone, getting the call, instead of ;the one making the call.

    Have to come up with a new Title for that one though…got any ideas?

  3. Ardell I like procuring agent and use that often when talking to my sellers. Buyers agent is still best.

    The in and outs of “language” are hard to quantify and value but are a big, big, part of the difference between full service, full time agents, and limited service listing and buying services. Agents generally “work it” on behalf of their clients because it’s in their DNA. Clients often don’t appreciate these subleties because by definition, these verbage actions are subtle.

    Some of my favorites when I represent the buyer:

    “I’ve got someone coming by for a 3rd visit.”

    “Nothing yet but it’s getting a ton of action.”

    “I wouldn’t wait on that.”

    When I represent the seller:

    “My clients flying in today at 8pm. Don’t look at anything until I’ve shown it.” (Offer being looked at 3pm).

    “Is your seller looking at ALL offers? (usually 24 hours after listing).

    “I’ve got a full price offer.” (But I’m not going to tell you about the $10,000 seller contribution to closing costs & new windows).

    THEM. “My client is ready to write an offer so you’ll need to wait. Can you tell me about the kitchen?”
    ME. “Has your client seen the house?”
    THEM: Sure, yes they’ve seen it.”
    ME: “But they forgot about the kitchen?”
    THEM: “They’ve seen the pictures. I know they’re going to want it.”
    ME: “Have you seen it?”
    THEM: “No but I know they’re going to want it. You need to wait for us.”

  4. LOL, Doug! Thank you so much for those. LOVE that last one.

    You are kidding me about “procuring agent”, no?

    I just had one in Ballard. Got the call asking, “When is your seller looking at offers?” My answer. “Soon as I get one.” The agent cracked up. Apparently that was not the answer he was expecting.

  5. You know I wrote that line just for you. I was missing you since I got back from Vegas. It was Jillayne bait 🙂

    I always wondered why agent training didn’t include more role playing workshops.

  6. Gordon,

    I don’t see anything from you trapped in the spam filter. That’s usually where I find them. If you email me the full version, I’ll make the edit for you.

  7. Jillayne,

    I don’t know about “writing it” but I could tape record what I say for a while, and you can extract the things you feel are “material” for a class. I think most of it is just common sense and street smarts.

  8. Gordon, My guess is that you’re adding some text after the “=” sign that “appears” like code and is therefore not allowed in a comment. If you email me your comment, I’d be happy to find a way to get it to publish (also, you can use the “preview” feature to test the problem and potential solutions!).

  9. Dustin, I’ll use that preview function, but I’m sure it was my “code” that did it. Replacing symbols with words:

    >>”When are you looking at offers” is a question that reflects the current market conditions in Seattle — where on new listings (new equals less than five days market time) there’s been lots of activity, lots of multiple offers for good inventory (good equals well priced, well located, you know the drill). In a more normal market, yeah — we’ll take offers as they come.

    But right now, to give agents a chance to show without having to drop everything and get a babysitter TODAY to see and write an offer, we’ve been listing on Wed/Thurs, with a note in the agent remarks “Offers reviewed Tuesday @ Noon.” We used to say offers “if any” as a nod towards modesty. I understand it seems presumptuous to say that Tuesday Noon is our Offer Time as if we EXPECT a flood of offers (in SFO they call it the “bid date)…but I really want agents to be able to take time, show, re-show, and write a well-thought out offer — not to be talking about an offer just because their buyer “saw the pictures!” (good one Doug)

    4-6 days seems like enough time to do that. If on Tuesday Noon we have no offers, I delete that line in the agent remarks and we’ll look at offers “as soon as we get one!”

    I’m a bit torn on this issue, and when the market slows back down (it always does) we’ll drop it. Again, and this is my key point: The intent isn’t to incite a bidding situation, we don’t price artificially low, and the seller is darn happy with “just” full price. But I do want procuring/buyer’s/selling licensees/agents to not have to have a cardiac getting their folks through when it first pops out on the MLS so that they’re first ones to the table.

  10. While we’re on the topic of banishing words from our real estate vocabulary, perhaps we could eliminate “real estate industry”?
    We are NOT an industry; we are a profession.
    Industries BUILD things ~ we don’t build them; we help people buy and sell them!
    Maybe the public would perceive us as professionals if we considered ourselves as members of a “profession”?

  11. Phil,

    I use “The Real Estate Industry” to describe the ENTIRE industry including the businesses built ON us, the agents and our transactions.

    The real estate industy includes lenders, Loan Brokers, Title Companies, Escrow Companies, Home Warranty Companies, Flyer Providers, Lead Generation Site Companies, Website Providers, Website Hosters, Licensed Assistants, Online Assistants, Online Contact Managers, Licensing Schools, Companies that create and sell Continuing Ed Courses, the Buffinis, the By Referral Only Programs, the host of designations and those who make their money by creating them, promoting them and collect fees to acquire them and maintain them such as the ABR, the E-pro, GRI, CRS…ad infinitum. The NAR the WAR, the CAR, the PAR, the FAR, the SKCAR all of the Board of Realtors from National to State to County all over the Country, Inman,, Zillow, HomeGain, HouseValues.

    Clearly there IS a “Real Estate Industry” and Real Estate Industry NEWS and it is a whole lot bigger than “US”. We are not the industry. The industry is built around us and much of it would exist with or without us, but the majority of “The Real Estate Industry” is BUILT ON US.

    Anyone who makes money from the business of buying and selling property. Home Inspectors, some attorneys, the people who make the calendars we get from the service providers, the real estate sign makes, the Zi[p Your Flyer people.

    The real estate commission feeds a HUGE machine. That Machine is “The Real Estate Industry”. So when I say “we in the industry” it will include maybe not ALL of “the industry”, but clearly more than just the licensed active agents.

  12. This is beautiful. I’ll share one little trick I learned about getting listing agents to stop throwing around “offers are coming in” or “there’s a lot of interest.” I once had an agent, a long-time agent (me, a newbie), tell me that he had offers on a property my buyers were putting in an offer on. Their offer was for $15,000 below asking price. I pressed him further, and asked “you have those offers in writing?”
    Him: “Well, there’s a lot of interest in this property…”
    Me: “No doubt. But since you have written offers, my buyers are going to want to know for sure that there are other written offers. Would you mind just jotting down on a piece of paper that you have offers on the property and how many you have, sign your name, and fax it back to me?”

    I could hear him squirming on the other end of the line:) The buyer’s offer was accepted. Needless to say, he never mentioned again that there were other offers on the property.

  13. Great story, Jessica. But, I don’t ever want to stop them from telling me about offers that might be coming. Better I figure out if they are telling the truth, than not to know when there is the possibility of another offer.

    I had one where I had an offer in, and our offer was being presented at 8 p.m. that day. Agent called me at 4 p.m. and said she was expecting another offer, and did we want to change our offer. She proceeded to tell me what those revisions should be, exactly, as to price and terms. I was 80% sure she way lying. A little hard to tell, because the agent didin’t speak English very well.  But the agent had “a reputation”.

    I spoke to my clients and told them what I thought was happening. We decided to stand firm and not do or say anything.

    At 7:30 I got a call from the agent asking where our “revised offer” was? I could hear the panic in her voice. I told her we weren’t revising the offer. She said, incredulously, “You NOT?!?” I said no, just present it the way it is, thank you very much.

    LOL I’ll never forget her surprise. Guess she got away with that tactic a LOT. But not this time. Yes my clients got the house at the offered price and terms.

    I don’t ever want the other agent to stop talking. In fact I do everything possible to get them to talk as much as possible. Whether I have the buyer or the seller as a client, I ALWAYS want to hear anything and everything the other agent will spill out. Up to me and the clients to decide what to do with that info…but I still want ALL the info I can get my hands on.

  14. Phil, real estate agents are the “professionals”, at least as far as the scope of a puny 60 clock hours will allow. Brokers, NAR, the MLS and real estate schools are the “industry”. Get my drift?

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