Will the 14th Offer Be the Charm?

Real Estate Agent with RLAH Real Estate AB95346

I recently met a couple who had written 13 offers on various homes in Northern Virginia - with no luck at all.  And they sounded really, really motivated.  Right now, they are living with the in laws.  Not great. 

They were working with an agent who I know is good at what she does.  She works hard, knows the territory and plays well with others.  So what was going on here?  Their plight is not unusual.  Around the DC metro area, inventory is tight, especially in the under $700,000 price range.  But it's possible to find a great place, whatever your budget.  Here are some of the things I tell my own clients looking for their first homes:

  • Don't look over your price range.  Chances are strong you will be in a multiple offer situation, and you need some space to go up.  If, for example, you have been pre-approved for $700,000, try to keep your search to under about $675,000.
  • Instead of going for the homes that are ultra-staged with universal appeal, consider the Plain Janes that, with a coat of paint and a little imagination could become your dream house.
  • If you are going into a bidding war, remember that you need to be green and clean.  The price (the green) is important, but so are the terms of your offer (the clean).  The sellers will be looking for the buyers who look the most likely to complete the transaction.
  • Lots of buyers try to be the first in the door as a new listing goes on the market.  But don't ignor the wallflowers who have been sitting with no suiters.  A lot of the time, they'll have some fixable flaw that has scared off other buyers.  Other times, the prices are way too high, but you can catch the sellers at a point where they are sick of making the beds and ready to deal. 
  • If you try to find the smallest, least expensive house in a great neighborhood, you could be competing against the professionals who are looking for renovation or rebuilding projects.  They are likely to be a lot more agile than you are when it comes to financing the deal and eliminating contingencies, especially for home inspections, financing and appraisals. 
  • Make sure your agent finds out what the sellers need in terms of a settlement time frame and if there are any other conditions that could make your offer more attractive to them.
  • Keep an open mind about where to live.  Here is Washington, there are many first time buyers who just can't afford the old favorite neighborhoods, and they are turning formerly funking areas into the new cool places to live.  And if you don't have to be in town, there are some wonderful values in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. 
  • If you started out looking for a detached, single family home, reconsider whether a townhouse or even a condo could work for you. 
  • It sort of goes with saying that you need to be pre-approved for your mortgage.  And if you are smart, it will be with a small local lender rather than one of the big guys.
  • Keep it simple.  Don't ask them to leave their Labradoodle or grand piano. 

So I really wish these kids, not to mention their agent, good luck.  August might work.  It's hot and most buyers are at the beach, so if they stay home and househunt, there might be less competition! 




Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Nina Hollander 07/20/2013 02:15 AM
  2. Betina Foreman 07/20/2013 03:51 AM
  3. Susan Haughton 07/20/2013 04:11 AM
Home Buying
Diary of a Realtor
Bartender, Make it a Double
multiple offer strategies

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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


Putting in offers on multiple properties seems to be de rigeur these days, no matter how good you are about making strong and clean offers. I think your adivce is right on target. It's particularly tough if you are not a cash buyer, but not all cash buyers win! The key is working with someone who really knows the local market and the strategy you need to follow to be successful. I have been sending my offers with a video email to introduce myself to the agent and talk a bit about the buyer in addition to what we sahre on paper.


Jul 20, 2013 06:09 AM #47
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Your advice is right on target.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Jul 20, 2013 06:10 AM #48
Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

You gave excellent advice. That is a lot of offers to have written and not gotten an accepted one. I'm thinking that maybe the first item on yout list was what caused this problem.


Jul 20, 2013 06:51 AM #49
Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Associate Broker
iXL Real Estate-Wiregrasss\ - Enterprise, AL
email: Travis@theSOLDman.me / cell: 334-494-7846

As others said, the "green'n'clean" phrase is cool and to the point!! Thanks!

Jul 20, 2013 08:21 AM #50
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Hello Pat,

Wonderful and sound advice in this difficult market (for buyers)...I especially like your "green and clean"!

Jul 20, 2013 08:53 AM #51
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Patricia, wow....13 offers not accepted! It's not so unusual as the expectations are not set right.

(May be that's the only buyer they are working with and do not want to leave them?)

Jul 20, 2013 09:13 AM #52
Lynn Pineda
eXp Realty - Boca Raton, FL
Real Estate Promises delivered in SE Florida

Green and clean, I like that one Patricia.  Well said.

Jul 20, 2013 09:25 AM #53
Dan Pittsenbarger
Keller Williams Western Realty - Bellingham, WA
Improving Conditions

Well at least after that many offers the agent doesn't have to spend too much time going over the offer paperwork with them and probably doesn't need to spend to much more education time going over why it's important to write a good offer if they want to successfully get into a place.

Jul 20, 2013 09:35 AM #54
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

lol Pat, my sister who lives in Potomac Falls has a Labradoodle! These are fabulous tips and advice for buyers in today's market, especially those purchasing for the very first time.

Jul 20, 2013 09:57 AM #55
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles real estate concierge services

This is all great advice for those poor buyers who just can't seem to be the successful bidders.  It is the same here, but unfortunately those who are open to settling are really going to have to settle.  There is just no inventory.  And unless something changes quickly, there will be no real estate market.

Jul 20, 2013 10:25 AM #56
Brad MacKenzie
Brad MacKenzie - Duxbury, MA
Turning Houses into Homes on the South Shore

Great post. I see clean and green caught a lot of peoples' attention. Good advice for those frustrated buyers lately!

Jul 20, 2013 12:09 PM #58
Rosie Moore
Serving Sugar Land, Richmond, Rosenberg, Missouri City - Sugar Land, TX

Great advice! Thanks for sharing!

Jul 20, 2013 12:28 PM #59
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Pat you raise some very important points.  Here is my personal favorite quote>

"It sort of goes with saying that you need to be pre-approved for your mortgage.  And if you are smart, it will be with a small local lender rather than one of the big guys."

Jul 20, 2013 12:44 PM #60
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411

Pat, all your suggestions are so good that all the competing buyers for homes in Silicon Valley follow them.  Now they're resorting to offers with NO contingencies to gain a competitive edge because the smart and sensible alternatives such as your suggestions aren't working.

Jul 20, 2013 01:52 PM #61
Michelle Carr Crowe,Altas Just Call...408-252-8900!
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Chasing yesterdays deals can result in lots of offers and no contracts-hopefully 14th time is the charm.

Jul 20, 2013 03:33 PM #62
Jane Chaulklin-Schott
TEAMCONNECT REALTY - (407) 394-9766 - Orlando, FL
TeamConnect Luxury Homes - Orlando, Florida, 32836

PAT ~ Printed your excellent to-the-point post which covers the importance of these steps. Believe it is relevant not only to buyers, but also to all of us.

Jul 20, 2013 04:35 PM #63
Lillie Painia, ABR, NHC, TAHS
Lillie L. Painia, Tri-R Realty Group - Missouri City, TX

Great advice Pat!

Jul 22, 2013 06:22 AM #64
Betina Foreman
WJK Realty - Austin, TX
Realtor, C.N.E., with WJK REALTY

I just had to rePost your post. This is a great article. Pat did a stellar job, as usual!


Jul 30, 2013 05:09 AM #65
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Patricia-I've never worked in a market as competitive as yours. It sounds like the Sellers hold most of the cards.

Sep 11, 2013 12:11 AM #66
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I remember those days when I had to write offers for the same buyer over and over again. When the market is hot, the winning offer is usually the highest with min contingencies.

Jun 10, 2015 05:00 PM #67
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Patricia Kennedy

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