Want That House? Your Agent Needs to Ask These Questions First

One common mistake in writing an offer in this competitive market, or any real estate market, is that your agent does not speak with the listing agent first.  Much valuable information can be garnered to help you and your agent to write a better offer (i.e. WIN the contract), by asking these questions, versus blindly sending in an offer you think is good enough. Remember, you will likely be bidding against several other prospective home buyers for the same property. The listing agent may have a spreadsheet comparing the bullet points of your offer with the others (like I do), in order to summarize each offer to the seller. You want the “checkboxes” to be in your favor.

Here are sample questions your agent should ask the listing agent (seller’s agent), to help prepare and strategize writing the winning offer:

  1. Does the seller have a preferred closing date? Some sellers need a delayed closing date in order to move first, or to close on another property.
  2. Does the seller want a rent-back period to stay in the house after closing? This is becoming more common nowadays, as sellers may need a few weeks to find another house and close. Should you be asking the seller to pay rent to you, in this case? Think about how competitive that would be against another buyer not asking for rent.
  3. What title company do you prefer? Note, this is asked of the listing agent. Even though, in our Emerald Coast market, the buyer is now typically paying for title insurance, and they usually select the title agent, you want a title agent that the listing agent LIKES. This is very important. Believe me, there are individual preferences here.
  4. Does the seller have a minimum price requirement over asking price? (50% of homes in the U.S. sell for list price or more.)
  5. Are you desiring the highest and best offer now, or will there be an opportunity to present “highest and best” should there be multiple offers?
  6. How many offers do you have? How many more offers are coming in?
  7. How competitive do we have to be? This is an open-ended question to solicit suggestions from the listing agent.
  8. Does the seller only want cash offers?
  9. What other terms are important to the seller? They may want to leave the furnishings, or items they don’t want. They may want to take out some fixtures. Fine, let’s list those.
  10. Is there a deadline for presenting offers to you? Here, don’t do something silly, like ask the seller to respond in two hours at 8:00 p.m. that night. That obvious game of preventing them from responding to other offers likely won’t work.
  11. What is the time frame for the seller to review offers?
  12. Do you have a preferred contract format? (Florida has two state-wide real estate contract types, the Contract for Residential Sale and Purchase, commonly called the “CRSP” contract, and what’s commonly called the “CRSP” contract, and the Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase (FloridaRealtors/FloridaBar-5x), commonly call the FAR/BAR. The listing agent or brokerage may have a preference.  You want to submit your offer on the contract format they like and understand the best. That way, they can explain it to their seller better.
  13. Is there anything else I should know? Is there anything else I should ask you?

Oftentimes, simply by talking with the listing agent, your agent will be able to find out more helpful information about what’s important to the seller. Armed with answers, your agent should be able to advise you on the best strategy to write your offer and win the sale!

It’s Wendy… It’s Sold!

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, Rulnick Realty, Inc.
Call 850-259-0422
Email Wendy: [email protected]

Wendy Rulnick, Broker, lists and sells real estate in Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, 30A, Miramar Beach, Crestview, Sandestin, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Okaloosa Island, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, Freeport, Bluewater Bay, Navarre, Florida.

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