Every Austin Real Estate Offer is an Emergency Now

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on February 11, 2014 · 5 comments

RedAlertLife as an Austin Realtor requires a varied set of skills. Add to those now the ability to operate under constant Red Alert conditions if you hope to be an effective Buyer’s Agent. Here is the latest example.

Sylvia had buyers in from out of town last Saturday. Both houses they liked already had multiple offers. They went in on one of the homes. It wasn’t until Monday morning we found out another offer was selected. Meanwhile 5 new properties came on the market. The buyers were leaving town Monday night. Sylvia wasn’t feeling well so I took her buyers out Monday. We found a home they liked, checked with the agent and was told at 2PM that the owner was already reviewing multiple offers from the weekend.

We convinced the agent to wait for our offer. Saw the house, liked it, drove to my home where we all sat around our embarrassingly unclean kitchen table while I wrote it up. We did “old school” signatures on paper instead of DocuSign. I scanned and emailed to the agent with a pre-approval letter, followed by a phone call to “sell it” to the agent that this was the right buyer to select. This is all done with a sense of urgency, but not panic. Nevertheless, no room for mistakes, delays or incompetence. For adrenaline junkies like me, it’s fun. But not for most people.

How did it turn out?

Our offer was the eighth offer received and our buyers were selected. This was a clean offer ready to sign, error free, and in fact the seller did sign as-is with no changes. Our buyer waived the appraisal and wrote a 5 day Option Period. We had our inspection scheduled before we sent the offer, which I think impressed the listing agent and, along with the perfect clean offer, showed that we were running an “A Game” on our end. That’s important to convey. It was probably high offer, though we don’t know that for sure yet. I’ll find out later. High offer doesn’t always win. It doesn’t really matter. Even paying over value is ok in this strong rising Austin market.

Is this how it is now?
As I wrote last year, buyers are not buying homes, they are competing for homes. It’s distressing for all involved, including sellers. You’d think sellers would joyously await the flood of offers, but many tell their agents “no mas”. Many listings are marked “Pending” before a final offer is selected just to turn off the stream of showings, and agents actually write in the listing comments, “please, no more showings”. I saw one just this afternoon. The stampede of showings can be unsettling for an owner occupant, though a good problem to have. A good listing agent will send the sellers out of town, take a little trip to see relatives or something, for a couple of days during the first weekend. You won’t be able to stay in the home because it will be back to back showings.

Many agents, especially newer ones, don’t know how to sort and rank 5 to 10 offers. They feel “buried” and confused about where to start. Personally, I create a spreadsheet and enter each offer into a column to get an “at a glance” look at everything because it can in fact get confusing. It’s easier if you only have 2 or 3 offers because one is usually a dud and another clearly better than the remaining one. But 5 to 10 offers gets tricky, especially when you know that many were submitted in a panic and may not stick after selected. It’s a good idea to narrow it down to the best 3 candidates then call all those agents and lenders to ask questions and get a read.

Many agents write crap offers. That’s sad but true. Sometimes the high offer is so mistake-riddled and poorly written that the listing agent wonders if this is a competent agent to get involved with. That’s why a clean, mistake-free offer is imperative. Buyers, it’s your job to read what you sign and carefully review the offer for completeness.

How to Prepare
If you’re a buyer out looking, make sure you and your agent are prepared and ready to compete. That may mean operating in a 2 hour window from the time you find out about a new listing to the time your perfect offer is in the hands of the listing agent. You must have a 5th gear, an overdrive you and your agent can shift into and competently execute. You might have to leave work to go look, or trust your buyer agent to know it’s the one for you.

Some listing agents, like me and Sylvia, like to give every buyer a full look, so we will generally have a 2 or 3 day window between a listing going active and seller selection. List it Friday, choose Sunday night. But not all listing agents do that. Some even take pre-MLS offers, which I think is a mistake in the current environment, but that’s a subject for another blog article.

Just be ready to go into “Red Alert” mode, and make your offer clean. Have a good buyer agent who communicates well and knows how to move fast. This isn’t your Grandma’s real estate market.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Garreth Wilcock February 11, 2014 at 11:14 pm

So true about agents writing crap offers. Not just mistake filled, but poor offers with badly selected terms that can’t possibly be considered competitive. I can’t understand why more agents don’t encourage their qualified and desperate buyers to waive appraisal.

As always, you’re bang on the money. Well done on beating out all the other offers for your buyers.

2 Jason Grote February 12, 2014 at 8:17 am

What great insight to the buyer’s side of a transaction in this crazy market. As a flipper, we are on the other end wondering what is going through some of these agents’ heads. I can say that when receiving multiple offers, we scrutinize not only the offer, but especially the agent. Most deals are broken up due to the agent’s ineptitude. Oh, and how more important it is to get the right agent on the other end. This is what we look for when receiving an offer:
-How much money down? Are they playing the 80′s game called “I deserve a home”
-Are they trying to milk us with a long option period?
-Who is their lender? Not all lenders are created equal
-Is the buyer’s agent on our black list? Oh yes, we have several agents and agencies that we will only work with out of desperation.
-Is the offer manipulative? In other words, are they just trying to get us under contract to work us down in the option period to get the terms where they would like? Our senses are becoming keen to this tactic.

Steve & Sylvia, just know that you are not on our black list, but someday hope to work together… ;) Thanks again for the fun read!

3 Austin home inspector February 14, 2014 at 11:09 am

I sympathize with real estate agents in Austin who are trying to cope with the huge increase in transactions the past few months. We’re seeing the same thing in our home inspection business; and we’re trying to make things a little easier for realtors by getting inspections scheduled and completed promptly to support short offer and closing dates. Best wishes to all Austin realtors.

4 Scott Brodrick February 14, 2014 at 3:16 pm

This is so true Steve and Sylvia. Offers have to really excel to be accepted these days. And Jason’s points ring true too – as a listing agent I always check out the lenders and the agents too. The first thing I do when I get a contract from an agent I don’t know is to use the TREC site to look at their track record – length of service and number of complaints. The deal is only as good as the parties involved.

5 Cass B April 20, 2014 at 4:49 am

Thanks Steve for the updates. Nowadays, it isn’t really grandma’s or even grandpa’s market.

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