Presenting Your Offer

Writing that post the other day about Love Letters made me think about the bigger picture of buying a home, that is presenting your offer. The truth is that the toy pictured above is quite possibly the most common way that Real Estate agents present their client’s offers. The offer is faxed to the listing agent who then presents it to the seller. I don’t know about you, but very few things drive me as crazy as fax machines. They always seem to jam on the 10th page of an 11 page fax, I’ll get an error message or a paper jam or something. Sometimes the fax machine sends 3 or 4 pages through at once and I then have to try and figure out which pages were received and which were not. It seems like I’ve spent half of my life next to a fax machine. It’s actually much easier, and less stressful to hand deliver the originals….even if it means going to Detroit! It would be a really, really rare scenario for me to fax a client’s offer to a listing agent, but when I’m the listing agent I see it alot.

Over the years I’ve seen this scenario more than once: 2 hours after my clients and I have reviewed offers on their home I get a call from Joe Jones of XYZ Realty. “Hi Jim, I just wanted to touch base with you about the offer I faxed you earlier today”

ME: “….ummm, I didn’t get an offer from you earlier today. What time did you send it?

Joe ” Oh, no, about 2:00PM?, remember I talked to you about it yesterday?”

ME “Sure, I remember the call…but I got 5 offers today and you didn’t call to confirm. Did you?”

Joe “…ummm, well actually no. But I know it got sent!”

ME ” Sorry Joe, I didn’t receive it…and we just ratified anyway.”

Bottom line….faxed offers are highly problematic! Certainly there are plenty of situations where sellers are not present to review offers, but in those cases a presentation should be made to the listing agent…in person. I honestly think it’s the single most important task I can do for a client. In a presentation I get to convey the heart of my buyers to a seller, or sellers. Typically, here’s how it goes: I contact the other agent and let him/her know that I’ve got an offer on their property and set up an appointment to present it to both the listing agent and the seller. When we meet I’ll chat a little with the sellers about who they are and about where they’re going…we’ll also talk a bit about their house and the things they’ve done to it. I’ll describe my clients to them and present the buyer’s love letter, and give them time to read it, before I go over anything else. After that I’ll give the contract to the listing agent along with the signed disclosures and I’ll give a one page summary that I’ll have prepared to the sellers highlighting again who the clients are and the key features of the offer in bullet points, price, initial deposit, pre-approval letter, close of escrow date, percentage of down payment, total contingency days, any unique, whether or not there is a rent back provision…etc. These bullet points speak directly to the key areas that sellers are most concerned with and we can thus eliminate a long winded description of contract boilerplate that ultimately could bore everybody to tears anyway. Often, the terms are more important to the sellers than the price is. It’s actually relatively short, sweet and painless…and most importantly it’s far more effective than faxing! If you’re a buyer in this market and you’re coming in under the asking price doesn’t it make sense to have an advocate…in person?


  1. What a great, and IMPORTANT, article this is, Jim…thank you for putting my exact feelings into words!!

  2. Jim,

    You are right on the money….and well written. Would any listing agent really want to get into contract with a buyer’s agent who does not see the importance of presenting the offer in person?…especially in a multiple offer situation. Some agents just don’t get it….and never will. Keep up the good work.


  3. This post really nails it! Good job Jim!

  4. I personally prefer to not have the other agent present to my clients directly or have direct contact. I have run into several negative experiences with other agents have direct contact with my clients.

    I also hate faxes, it is much cleaner to e-mail them.

  5. Yes, an in person presentation of your buyers’ offer is preferable, but most sellers don’t want to take the time to sit down with you. As Randy noted, email offers are better than faxes that become illegible after more than one pass.

  6. I like to scan and email them. So much easier!

  7. Mary Bowen says:

    I have had the exact same thing happen. You must follow up with phone calls, emails, drums, whatever it takes to get a confirmation of receipt.

  8. Jim Minkey says:

    Honest folks, I’m not trying to start a fight…but whether you fax or e-mail the offer your buyers are getting short changed…in my opinion. Randy, I’d love to hear about the negative experiences you’ve had because I honestly don’t remember any representing sellers. No question, it can be a pain to orchestrate a presentation with everybody present but at the end of the day I think it’s worth it. I’ve had many deals happen because I was present and I’ve seen many others fail when an agent wasn’t present and their competition was.

  9. Always present in person IF YOU CAN. IMHO you are not serving your client well otherwise. There is soo much you can learn and explain. Also what if the listing agent is trying to present their own offer? As to faxing vs e-mail vs handing it to the agent… check what your documentation says… in Washington St E-mail does NOT constitute delivery.

  10. I recently had a discussion with my broker about this topic. He commented that in “times past” they used to present offers “face-to-face” and build working relationships at the table that he felt offered a smoother road to close. He felt that all the technology today takes away the “human” touch to working a deal.

    I’m not sure what the “pitfalls” were to that approach but I’ve always preferred to build working relationships with my fellow agents so we could work together to get over the hurdles. And it always seems that there is a hurdle to get over at some point in every transaction. I’m still looking for that smooth close.

    I do make use of the technology that is available today and find that it works for me. I will not only fax the offer to the other agent but I will also send them an email with a PDF file of the contract so they have an electronic record. All of this is followed up with a phone call and eventually an opportunity to meet them at some point in time.

  11. Chad Baird says:

    One of the reasons people hire agents is so they do not have to go through the whole process of negotiating. Agent to agent takes the emotion out it for the buyer and seller. I’ve had the owners present during showings that ended up in the wife of the buyer getting into a political argument with the husband of the seller. That deal did no work out.

    Faxing is fine with me, I prefer to scan and email though. In the end though once the deal is negotiated I generally write up a new final version of the contract to make it a cleaner version and deliver it to the LA to try and preserve the quality of the contract. They get pretty blurry after to many faxings.

  12. Hi Jim:-) I have had the same thing happen…an offer gets faxed or emailed to me with no call at all from the buyer’s agent. I can’t even imagine doing that with one of my valued buyer’s offers. I prefer to email offers now. It is more secure and private and I definitely discuss all of the positives of the offer with the listing agent. Emailing also keeps it more legible for the lender and attorneys, too.

  13. Jim Minkey says:

    I presented an offer on a foreclosure last week…needless to say I e-mailed it. There’s certainly other times when I would do the same, but maybe it’s just a function of how strong our market has been over the years with multiple offers but I can’t imagine why I would not want to present in person. Because I’d have to get dressed up? Because it’s too time consuming? Why chase some agent to see if they got your fax or e-mail when you can present it in person to the seller and agent? If they have any questions you can answer them. Maybe I’m just used to doing it this way and I’m blind too, but if you know a disadvantage of presenting in person please let me know it. Thanks

  14. Real estate is emotional – for the buyers and sellers. I always present in person when its possible. I can think of many presentations I’ve made and won in a multiple offer situation because the sellers felt a connection to my buyers. I agree that email is a great venue for documenting the dialog. After my presentation, I always follow up with and email to the listing broker – we then keep a running dialog via email so every point is documented.

  15. Jim Minkey says:

    Just in this week alone, I had a Pest inspection, a pre approval letter and an offer e-mailed to my bulk mail file inadvertantly. When that happens the attached PDF get’s lost and if I wasn’t checking bulk mail for these types of accidents I wouldn’t know they came through. In each case the parties ended up faxing me their documents. How can we possibly say that e-mailing and faxing is better than presenting in person?

Speak Your Mind