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Be a Decent Human Being, and Other Advice on Getting a Lower Offer on a Home Accepted

If you’re thinking of buying a new home, here’s something you should know: The market is incredibly strong right now. Yes, we are entering autumn and historically that’s a slower time for home sales. However, there is still a shortage of homes available to buyers, and that means that you will likely be one of multiple buyers submitting an offer.

I know this because I’m a Realtor®, but I also know it because after 11 years of living in the same home, my wife and I recently purchased a new house. We were one of seven offers—and we weren’t the highest. We were, however, the offer the seller chose.

We were lucky, and while there are no guarantees, here are two easy things you can do to increase the chances that your offer is the one the seller selects—even if it isn’t the highest.

  1. Don’t be a jerk.

Some people believe that being a jerk is an essential part of getting things done.

That’s not true.

You can be firm and stand your ground without being a jerk about it. In fact, being a jerk always makes things harder than they need to be.

In a real estate transaction, if you are hard to deal with simply for the sake of being hard to deal with—or treat the seller and his or her Realtor® poorly—the chances that your offer is the one that gets accepted go way down. Even with the increased use of technology in real estate, selling a home is still a very human process. If you’re a decent human being during that process, your odds of having your bid selected even when it isn’t the highest offer go way up.

Be responsive, prompt, polite, and professional. It makes a difference.

  1. Be a person, not a piece of paper.

If you’ve ever sold a home, there is a good chance you’ve driven by it years later, wondering what it looks like inside now that you’re gone. You might wonder if the new owners are marking their kids’ heights in pencil on the door jamb like your family did, or if they arrange the kitchen the same way during Thanksgiving.

There is also a good chance you still call it “our house,” even when it isn’t.

Houses are like that. They are more than just flooring and fixtures. They become a part of us long after we move out.

My kids are still young. The oldest is in 7th grade. The home we just purchased will be the home they finish growing up in. Our new driveway will be where they learn to drive in reverse. It will be the driveway where the young men taking my daughters to their prom will pick them up.

(If those prom dates step out of line, it will also be the driveway where they meet a father who’s suddenly morphed into an armed and angry redneck.)

Showing the seller that buyers of the home were looking for a place to raise their family was exactly why my wife included information about our family in our offer. It helped the seller understand who would be living in “their” home, even when it was no longer technically their home.

There is no guarantee that following this advice will mean a lower offer gets accepted. For some sellers, the price really is the only thing that matters. But for some sellers it isn’t. Some sellers want to know “their” home will be in good hands, even when that home belongs to someone else. Sharing information that helps the seller see you as the type of person or family they want living in their home will help your chances of getting a lower offer accepted.

If you plan on putting in an offer on a home soon, good luck. It’s competitive out there, and buying a home is always stressful—but what doesn’t kill us only makes us a stronger, right?

Unless it’s bringing some dad’s daughter home after curfew. That could lead to serious bodily injury.

(Or so I hear.)

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Bryan Bowles
President & CEO
Worth Clark Realty