How to write an offer so it will not be immediately rejected.

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Silicon Valley Cal BRE# 01358433


As the San Jose Short Sale Agent, the bulk of my listings receive multiple offers.  One of the things that some of the newer agents in my office ask is how to get offers accepted in a multiple offer situation.  


Rather than answer the question in that format, I would pose the question in another way: How you do write an offer so it will not get immediately rejected?  After all, aren’t your chances much better if your offer survives the first cut?  Frequently, if there are numerous offers, rather than making individual counter offers, listing agents eliminate offers on the first cut and leave only a few of the best offers with which to negotiate.  Here are some ways in which I think an offer can be written to survive the cut. 


First, do your own CMA (comparative market analysis) and find out how much similar properties have recently sold for in the neighborhood; be able to justify your price.  This sounds like an elementary step, but it is amazing to see agents – who are supposed to be professionals in the real estate business – just pick numbers and are unable to defend how they came up with these figures.  If you cannot verbalize how you reached your price, how do you expect the listing agent to read your mind?   


Second, Follow directions.  When listing agents feel they are going to have multiple offers, they sometimes provide instructions on how to write up offers.  For me, I provide written instructions to serve one function:  It demonstrates the ability of an agent to follow simple instructions.  If someone can’t follow instructions on how to write an offer, this is a roadmap for things to come in the rest of the transaction.   Transactions tend to run much more smoothly when each agent does what is prescribed for them.  People who do not/cannot follow instructions, bring needless complications to the transaction.      


Third, do not bad mouth the listing property.  Some agents seem to think their way of justifying a low ball offer is to bad mouth the property.  It’s fine to raise your client’s concern about the condition of the property.  But how you package that information into an easily digestible message is how you earn your keep as a real estate professional.  Saying things like the paint job is horrible or the property is the worst looking one in the neighborhood or finding other faults and incessantly nit-picking on them are not wise ways to describe a property that your client wants to purchase in a multiple bidding situation.  The efficacy is in how you finesse the situation to relay your concerns, but not to offend the person who can sell it to you or take it away from you.      


Fourth, write simple offers.   Do not complicate things and make convoluted offers.  There is something to be said about the beauty of a simple and easy to comprehend offer.  Trying to artificially inflate the offer price and then asking for a large credit as closing cost does not really mean you are not making a high priced offer; you are not fooling anyone with this amateurish trick.  Your credit request may raise issues with your lender that may have negative consequences at closing time that you may not have anticipated.  Sellers want simple, easy to comprehend offers that makes their lives simpler, not more complicated.     


The key is not to get identified as an offer with a weakness which warrants being eliminated in the first cut.  Don’t identify yourself as an agent who will make the transaction more complicated rather than easier for the listing agent.  Remember, in a multiple bidding situation, the listing agent wants a solid, superior offer; but they are also seeking to identify a competent and easy to work with buyer’s agent; not the incompetent one who will raise issues that gets in the way of a smooth closing.  The goal should be to work to be the former rather than the latter.      



Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Julie Baldino 04/11/2012 06:44 AM
  2. Ron Chastain 04/13/2012 12:22 AM
  3. Winston Heverly 10/14/2012 12:01 PM
California Santa Clara County
listing agent
multiple offers
closing cost credits
san jose short sale agent
property conditions
offer instructions

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Adrian Willanger
206 909-7536 - Seattle, WA
Profit from my two decades of experience

Steve, Agents in your office are quite fortunate to have you explain this to them on what not to do to get an offer presented. Very good format to follow.

Apr 11, 2012 07:27 AM #79
Marge Draper
Keller Williams Realty Palo Alto - Menlo Park, CA
REALTOR, Keller Williams Realty, Menlo Park CA

Steve,  You wrote a very interesting post that prompted many responses that were interesting to read as well.  That doesn't always happen!  I agree that it is important for a selling agent to represent their buyer in the best way possible.  Part of that is to prepare the offer in a way that is easy to understand and sort out.  When the listing agent gives instructions for an offer, it's their way of giving you a clue as to what they are looking for.  A listing agent may say the seller wants a quick close, or a 30-day rent back, or whatever.  That doesn't shut down negotiation; it's a clue in the puzzle of winning the game.

Apr 11, 2012 07:35 AM #80
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Interesting post about buyers agents, yet there are listing agents who need a lesson in selling their listings too. Just called a LA with a SS to get some information before we submit an offer and got a voice message that the property is active, so if interested submit your offer. Really! So much for communicating with the LA who is so busy that he can't answer the phone on his own listing. He probably feels justified because the asking price has been reduced to attract multiple offers, who knows? 

Apr 11, 2012 08:34 AM #81
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Include all the proper forms like the Short Sale Addendum.  Great post and thanks for the info.

Apr 11, 2012 12:22 PM #82
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams fox cities - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Thanks Steve, good advice, always important to keep the silly contingencies out and keep it simple and follow instructions. Now if we could just get the banks to honor a contract and meet a deadline.

Apr 11, 2012 02:54 PM #83
Orita Issartel
Very interesting and quite informative post. Thanks for sharing your knowledge on "Long Sales" better know as Short Sales. I live and work in Miami, Fl and we also have a crazy multiple offer sellers market right now. Our inventory is very low and of course Short Sales make up a good part of that. Learning about what you just said has made me a richer agent; in knowledge. Thanks.
Apr 11, 2012 02:59 PM #84
Deelyn Neilson
Liz Moore and Associates - Williamsburg, VA
Deelyn Neilson

Excellent advice- especially as we start to see the tides change just a bit and more activity in the spring market.

Apr 11, 2012 09:22 PM #85
Dana Hollish Hill
Hollish Hill Group, Keller William Capital Properties - Bethesda, MD
Lead Associate Broker

Well said. Sometimes we have buyers who just don't have a lot of cash or have a very strict price limit or have to sell their home to buy their next one. There are times we can not avoid adding contingencies to offers. I do my best to alert the listing agent of every detail of the offer on a cover page so there are no surprises inside the offer.

Apr 11, 2012 11:40 PM #86
Liane Thomas -Top Listing Agent
BROKER Allison James Estates & Homes BRE 01885684 - Corona, CA
Bringing you Home!

The most important thing: write a complete offer. If I have multiple offers, I'm not going to call you to tell you that you didn't include POF or loan approval.

Apr 12, 2012 02:56 AM #87
Carolyn Embury

I agree with all of your advice and I have always followed the instructions of the seller's agent.  However, in the case of a VA mortgage, nothing works with multiple offers.  I have included mortgage approval letters, letters that say WE will pay the VA charges and even went $6,000 over the listed price.  Nada!!!!

Apr 12, 2012 03:24 AM #88
Eugene Adan
Adan Properties, Carlsbad, CA (760) 720-9710 - Carlsbad, CA
Carlsbad Real Estate

Excellent advice!

Apr 12, 2012 03:51 AM #89
Marnie Matarese
Showing you the best of Sarasota!

And my personal favorite, please use a current contract form with the appropriate addenda.  Outdated forms with mismatched addenda are always a recipe for failure.

Apr 12, 2012 03:54 AM #90
Ric Mills
Keller Williams Southern Az - Tucson, AZ
Integrity, Honesty, and Vast Real Estate Knowledge

The KISS works both ways.  It can be simple or be the Kiss of death for your offer.  Great post.

Apr 13, 2012 10:55 AM #91
Jairo Arreola
Lotus Group Realty - San Jose, CA
VA Home Loan Specialist - SF Bay Area - South Bay

Great Tips- as one of the comments mentioned, make the offer readable! 

Apr 14, 2012 02:24 PM #92
Karen Crowson
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Rancho Bernardo, CA
Your Agent for Change

Steve, how have I never seen your posts before?  Concise, sound advice, and eloquently written.

Apr 15, 2012 11:57 PM #93
Helena Bigler
Century 21 Arizona Foothills - Phoenix, AZ

Great advice! Of course we encounter some buyers who thinks they know more than the agent, and they think they know how CMA works, bad mouth the property, low ball offers and so on. Communication between the agent is very important. keeping the contract offer simple and readable is very important.

Apr 23, 2012 02:09 PM #94

Great Post! Keep the offer simple with minimum contingencies. Submit strong offer.

May 13, 2012 01:17 PM #95
Flavia Brown

Maybe it's okay for the listing agent to provide directions, but to tell an agent how to write an offer? That brings new meaning to "condesending." Similar to writing "the San Jose short sale agent."

May 13, 2012 02:04 PM #96
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


You have given some good advice for agents who want their offer accepted to follow.  I especially like #3, don't bad mouth the listing.


Oct 14, 2012 12:18 PM #97
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

This is good advice. There were some very good comments also.

Oct 29, 2012 01:22 PM #98
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Steve Mun

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