Self-defeating games

Sunday, 12 July 2009


Early morning on the Banana River in south Cocoa Beach, July 12, 2009.

I had an interesting email exchange this week with a frustrated buyer who was peeved at a seller's response to his lowball offer. People, if you're out there making low offers in hopes of stealing something, you had better be prepared for rejection, sometimes angry rejection. It doesn't matter whether you think a property is over-priced or not, an offer 30% or more below asking price is not likely to elicit a warm note from the seller thanking you for being so kind as to offer cash. Speaking of over-priced, it will increase your chances of success if you actually have a grasp of what price would be a good deal on a particular property and start your offers within the bottom of the range of what you know to be a "deal". Seeking advice from friends and neighbors who may know nothing about the market in which you're offering is not market research. You should be aware of recent comparable sales, pending contracts, competition and condo association issues so that you can make an informed decision about your offer price. Additionally, a cover letter with justifications for your offer will sometimes make the difference between angry rejection and consideration. If you can't find comps to support your offer, some commentary on likely market direction, seasonality of sales, unclosed short sales, assumption of the seller's risk and so on will increase your offer's chances of actually being considered. Having said that, even well-researched offers may sometimes be perceived as insulting by an emotional or unrealistic seller. When that happens, don't take it personally. Deal with it and move on.

The buyer I mentioned above began his process with a verbal offer slightly above half the asking price. When rejected he made a higher offer in writing. No wonder that the seller had a burr under his saddle by the time he actually received a real written offer. Even with a justifying cover letter, which was not included, the 2nd offer faced a steep mountain of resistance. Not a well thought out strategy. If you're hoping to buy, resist the urge to float a trial verbal offer before actually offering in writing. If you're selling, I would advise never to respond to a verbal offer with anything other than "put it in writing".

My advice about knowing the market stands for sellers as much as for buyers. Knowing what your neighbor got for their home next door last year is not market knowledge. It's history. If you don't know the market right now, you may be insulted by an offer that is realistic and lose a sale while you cling to yesterday's reality. Knowledge, people. It's not just for kids anymore.

"No matter how low I set the bar for common sense, you manage to slither under it."
__________Richard to Ali