The Lowball Offer
Our real estate woes started with the first offer we received after listing our Portland home. In the red hot real estate market, we wanted to strike the right balance between aggressive pricing and a quick offer, and decided on a list price of $550,000 for the nearly 2,000 square foot, 14 month old home in Southeast Portland.
Within 24 hours of listing we received the first offer, but for far less than asking. The $503,000 offer came with what amounted to me as an insulting letter telling us that our comps and valuation were out of line with the market. Based on the down payment and financial information attached, I also took it to mean the proposed buyer couldn’t actually afford the home at the list price, and was grabbing and hoping we would take 10% less.
In this case, we didn’t even bother with a counter offer. Instead, we declined and were patient for another offer to come in. We had an open house coming up, and we were expecting more of a bidding war than a low ball.
Lesson: don’t take everything an agent says as something you have to do. Be patient and work with your experienced agent to filter out what inexperienced agents send your way.
The Impatient Buyer
Two days later, we had a full-price, all-cash offer on the table. We happily accepted, as we believed the home to be well priced and didn’t expect a bidding war with only two offers so far. After some back-and-forth on dates and agreement on a sale leaseback so we could have time to find a new place to live in California, we signed the agreements and expected we wouldn’t hear from the buyers again. That wasn’t the case.
The buyers kept asking for more. They wanted the keys early. They wanted access to the property, that we were still living in. They had a laundry list of questions for us. They reached out directly, which is not the norm in real estate. Most needs go through the agents, not directly from the buyer to the seller.
They went so far as to reach out on Twitter around the same time they complained on Twitter about my “discount agent.” They wanted unreasonable things, and should have just sat on the sidelines and waited for our leaseback to end. Instead, they added more stress to my move.
Lesson: be patient and make sure your agent filters out unwanted and unnecessary communications.
Sticking To Your Guns
Of the two big lessons learned from working with a low quality agent on the other side, the first learned was to stick to my guns. Whatever the other agent and buyer says, you don’t have to react. You don’t have to take a low offer. You don’t have to let anyone push you around.
If you have an experienced agent in your corner, the negotiations are much smoother. You have good advice about when to ignore what the other agent says, including a letter from a fairly new agent trying to strong arm a negotiation into a $50,000 discount for their clients. Because we had both a great agent and our own real estate experience, we knew when to say no to a big money offer that wasn’t big enough.
Put Your Agent In The Crossfire
When you end up in a stressful situation, don’t feel bad putting your agent in the middle. After all, they are getting paid 3 percent of the property sale price less some fees. With a $550,000 listing price, that means each agent gets $16,500. When I’m paying someone that much, I don’t mind having them do some work for it.
Of course, you shouldn’t try to take advantage of your agent, but it is reasonable that all communications from the other party should go through the agents, and you shouldn’t have to deal with any back-and-forth with the buyer or seller that is acting as a thorn in your side.
Let your agent take the flak. You’re paying them enough that you shouldn’t have to take on any undue stress.
Focus On The End Goal
Ultimately all real estate transactions should be about one thing: profit. You want the best price when you buy and the best price when you sell. Anything else is a distraction or extra work. Make sure you have an experienced agent on your side to help you navigate the minefield littered with low quality and inexperienced agents. That, after all, is what they’re there for.