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The spring selling season in Los Altos brings back multiple offer situations as the rule, not the exception. For homes priced below the average selling price, about $1.6 million, you'll find that nice homes in good locations go fast. Los Altos homes for sale priced below that price point find the competition is fierce. This article outlines what happens behind the scenes when a home is expected to receive multiple offers.
For the purposes of this article, let's assume a new Los Altos home is put up for sale on Wednesday with broker tour scheduled for Friday and open houses on Saturday and Sunday. It's a 4BR/2BA with 2000 s.f. in good condition, on a nice lot, and in a pleasant neighborhood. Offers will be taken the following Wednesday at 10AM. It's priced at $1.395 million.
Step 1: Building Interest. Once the Los Altos home goes on the market, agents with clients will be looking at it the same day. They'll forward the listing for qualified clients who will take a look and consider a visit. In addition, twice as many individual buyers will look at it without their agents.
Step 2: Open Houses. When the home is held open during broker tour and open houses there will be a few buyers and/or agents who express a strong interest in the home. In Los Altos, buyers will often try to make a "preemptive offer" before anyone else and most local agents will decline that offer. A Los Altos home for sale will get a higher price if left to the open market. Local agents know this all too well.
Step 3: Obtaining Disclosures. Several buyers and agents will download disclosures packages for the home. The number of packages is a strong indicator of the number of offers that may come in. It is at this point that a buyer can decide NOT to get disclosures. If a Los Altos home is highly competitive, it is possible to not get the disclosures in advance and write an offer "blind" - meaning without reviewing the disclosures. I strongly advocate not doing this because a fully prepared offer, with disclosures reviewed and signed, will be stronger at the negotiating table. There are many times when offers come in without having the disclosures reviewed and signed.
As a matter of course, roughly a third of buyers who get disclosures will write an offer. If a Los Altos home for sale has 20 disclosure packages downloaded, there will likely be 6-8 offers.
Step 4: Communicating Offers. In the example above, offers are being taken at 10AM. The listing agent will call everyone who has expressed interest in the home to see who is writing an offer. They'll get a count of "confirmed offers" so they have some idea of what to expect the following morning. When talking to the buyer's agents, the listing agent will tell the other agents how many disclosure packages have been downloaded and how many offers are confirmed. That gives the buyer's agent some idea of what they can expect. Some agents will not communicate that they are bringing in an offer until the morning they're being taken. Some agents feel this gives them an advantage by surprising the other buyers.
In Los Altos, local listing agents prefer to be given notice of a offer. When working with other Los Altos agents, it's important to be upfront about intentions without "tipping your hand" and giving them leverage to obtain other offers. It's a delicate balance of savvy negotiating and professionalism.
Step 5: Accepting Offers. Offers that a communicated verbally, in person, will get preference with most homes in Los Altos. Local agents with known reputations also have an advantage because the listing agent knows who they're working with and can assure their seller the transaction will close. I wrote a seperate article about pricing strategy in multiple offer situations so I recommend reading that for details of how to construct a good offer.
This is a bit of what goes on behind the scenes with multiple offesr on Los Altos homes for sale. As the inventory increases and the year moves along, these situations decline and they're less likely in high-end homes. However, Los Altos is a strong market so always be prepared.
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Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.