Sneaking Up On Them


A home comes on the market. It’s on 4 or 5 days and it appears that there is not momentum towards multiple offers. Here’s a scenario I’ve seen a gazillion times over the last 20 years, and almost exclusively with first time buyers when I show them the house. Buyer likes the house. Buyer thinks the spouse should see it. 3 days later…buyer’s spouse see’s it. Buyer and spouse likes the house.

Buyer asks “What’s the next step?” 

I say “Read the disclosures and get an approval from your lender”. The disclosures are typically online and, in my experience, the lender can produce a pre-approval in about an hour. Two days later…buyer has some questions about the disclosures, hasn’t connected with the lender.

Buyer says “What’s the next step?” Again.

I say “Write an offer”.

This may come as a shock to some of you, but when a realtor answers the question “What’s the next step?” with “Write an offer”…or words to that effect, the buyer’s response is often not too different than if I had responded by telling a really vulgar, profane joke…or if I willfully insulted the buyer’s Mother or something.

“Wr, wr, write an offer!?!?!? (They now are repeating the obscene vulgar joke!) Typically, I tell them this: Finding a house you like and not having any competition is a good thing. Mutiple offer scenarios are common again around here and this place is lacking other fins in the water. The single most important thing, if you like it, is to get it away from competition. You’re protected by the contingencies in your contract. All those things you’re worrying about, you can worry about them in escrow. If those worries get too overwhelming and the property has too many issues, you can back out under said contingency. Getting the home off the market is priority number 1.

Know what usually happens? The buyer stalls for 4 or 5 more days, wants to go see it again at the upcoming Sunday open house, and the calls and says “We’re ready!” At this point I call the listing agent to tell him/her that the buyer’s would like to write an offer… and he/she say’s:

“That’s great! Funny too that I just got a call from Joe Blo and A&B Realty…and Joe’s clients are writing too.”

I’m sure you think I’m exaggerating or just flat making this up! No, I’m not…this scenario happens all the time in my experience. As an agent, it makes me crazy! Of course it doesn’t always happen, but it happens enough that it’s aftertaste is clearly remembered! If you see a place that you like…jump on it! Get it away from potential competition! Your leverage negotiating is obviously SO much greater without competition! Avoid sneaking up on a listing, advance boldly, because it very well will save you plenty of money.


  1. Amusing and Good common sense, Jim!! Great post!!

  2. I totally understand what you meant. I just bought a place, and I knew I have a couple of times of missing out good deals or bids because of this reason. However, I think real estate agents should be more understanding, instead of going crazy! Buying a house is a BIG investment, especially in silicon valley. For 1st time home buyers, they dont even know much about market price or places or which area they really want to settle down etc, not to mention there are no perfect house for anyone, it is a VERY scary thing to quickly make up one’s mind. From my experience, after a couple of months looking, one will have an idea of where he/she wants to buy, how much and what kind of things they can let go in a place, then they only act fast. And there are always new places coming up anyway, pls dont be mad, instead let us know that it’s ok to pay maybe $10k more for peace of mind…it’s really a VERY SCARY thing in buying a place in this area.

  3. I have to agree with Steve on this.
    One thing to Jim is just let yourself in first time home buyers situation. Jim and others who has properties in peninsula are lucky to have bought a long time ago. I can assure you all, the same people who has to start all over again, will think twice or thrice before buying home.
    Well I did end up buying and I like it. Plunging for a first time home buyer is not easy thing as Jim say. I bet Joe who is writing the contract is not a first time buyer.!

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