A housing transaction, at the most fundamental level, includes one person who wants to sell and one person who wants to buy. Once the terms are agreed upon, voilà! . . . win-win.
However, if the seller is miserable with the final terms or feels like they had to settle for a lowball offer, the deal is likely to unravel or turn ugly. And if it does fall through, that causes aggravation and costs valuable time and money for everyone involved.
As a smart agent, you have valuable tools and skills to help prevent deals from falling through at the negotiating table.
Here are five facts and data points you can use to prevent lowball offers:
1. Market temperature matters.
The temperature of the market affects everything, from how buyers shop to what the “right price” is for a home. Most buyers think they know the temperature, but it’s your job to show them their local reality. To give buyers a valid idea of pricing, focus on what has recently sold in the last 60 days, rather than what is currently for sale in your market.
One way to do this is to show the percentage difference between the actual list and sale prices for the properties in your neighborhood. It speaks volumes about the current market’s activity. Comparing list vs. sale prices also provides a strong indicator of which direction the market is moving and how much less, or maybe even more, than the asking price a buyer should offer.
2. Apples are apples.
When analyzing the comps, make sure your clients see an apples-to-apples match to their home candidate and explain any similarities or differences. Putting the potential new property head-to-head with the other properties on the market today or those that have sold within 60 days can help buyers understand how key details like square footage, amenities, lot size, age, condition, and others can affect the price.
If you’re having trouble convincing them that your comparable analysis is right, use industry resources like Trulia’s Guide to Understanding Comparables to help back up your expert opinion.
3. Time is money.
Data from the National Association of Realtors® shows that the typical home search takes 12 weeks. If your buyer starts to lean toward lowballing when it’s offer time, make sure you drive home important time facts like how long inventory lasts and how many hours, days, and weeks you both have invested in finding the right property. Saving time can be a serious motivator for buyers, especially those who have endured a long three months of hunting.
4. Sellers are people too.
If the sellers purchased their house between 2005 and 2009, chances are, that property has lost value. They are not happy about it and, whatever their reasons for selling, they are already very frustrated at having to sell at a loss. The sellers are already losing money and will push very hard not to lose any more.
Remind your clients that when people sell their property, they are selling a piece of themselves. A house is the setting of someone’s life. For the seller, its value includes what it represents, not just what it lists for. So while submitting a lowball price sounds like a great way to get a cheap deal, it can start the negotiation process on the wrong foot. A seller and a good seller’s agent will not take that offer seriously. In fact, even if they do respond, that seller now does not want to sell the home to your client and will do almost anything to encourage another buyer to step up.
5. The wrong offer can cause buyers to miss out.
In my early days of buying property, my real estate agent called me about a cute little 1920s Craftsman house in Hollywood that was about to go on the market at $303,000. It was a fixer-upper and, at that price, it was a very good deal. Although I would have been willing to pay the asking price or close to it, I wanted to see if I could lowball and get it for less. Against my agent’s recommendation, I offered $270,000. I thought they would come back with a counter and that we would ultimately close the deal at $290,000. Well, they did counter, but with another potential buyer whose initial offer was $290,000. They were so offended by my low offer that they refused to sell it to me at any price. My agent still reminds me of this story today.
Most buyers today are smart. With the right data and encouragement from you, they’ll agree to submit a reasonable initial offer.
These are my tips for preventing the lowball offer. What other tools and facts are you all using to sell your buyer clients on “the right price?”