Even before I entered real estate I've often said there are few things more depressing than house hunting. Oftentimes it's so hard to find the one that's right for you and there are many times when you honestly believe you're never going to find the right house. But all it takes is one house – the house – and all those lows are forgotten and you're feeling euphoric.
In today's market buyers are getting beaten up but it's important to stay positive. With many properties receiving multiple offers, they are doing all that they can to make sure their offer is the winning offer. This means doing pre-inspections (where sellers allow), waiving contingencies for financing and inspection – both are risky but that's the reality. Many buyers are thousands of dollars down having paid for pre-inspections on multiple properties and they've got nothing but a bunch of rejected offers to show for it. They are getting knocked down many times – and every time it's harder and harder to get back up.
Here's where buyers and their agents need to get creative. Many buyers, and sadly some agents, believe it's all about the price. That's not always so. To a degree money talks, but every seller has different motivations – and as a buyer's agent it's my job to discover these motivations on behalf of my client.
Before I write up any offer, I make it my job to have a lengthy conversation with the listing agent – ideally in person, but if that's not possible over the phone. There's one question I always ask: "what does the seller really want or need in an offer? What would make my client win this house? Perhaps you're surprised to hear that money is rarely the answer.
Some sellers need more time to find somewhere to move to so a rent back period or a longer closing window is often more appealing than an extra $5,000 in a escalation clause.
Others need money now, so turning earnest money into a non-refundable deposit can sway in the buyer's favor. Don't get me wrong, this should not be offered lightly but if a buyer is confident about their financing, and an inspection clause is in place it can work.
Many sellers are downsizing and have furniture to sell which is time consuming and rarely worth the effort for the financial return. Consider offering to buy some of that furniture, or including a clause that states seller can leave anything in the house and buyer will remove it after closing. At worst you'll be a couple of hundreds bucks down. Or you might need to hire a truck and make a trip to the dump and do the move out clean yourself. But you may also see some good furniture left behind. Also remember, these could be things your agent is willing to pay for. Removal of furniture and a move out clean are certainly costs I would cover for some of my buyers.
These are just three examples, there a many more. The trick is to get creative. My advice to buyers is to find an agent who's prepared to do more for you, and can think outside of the box. It will pay off and you will find the perfect house.