Are Multiple Offers a Trick or For Real?

J Philip Faranda December 6, 2009

I have been on both sides of an offer in multiple offer situations. Whether I am the listing agent or buyer agent I often see buyers view the news of multiple offers with incredulity. More often than not, they just don’t believe it. If they think that the news is just a trick to get them to raise their offer and they hold firm, they often lose the house. 

While I don’t dispute the existence of dishonest licensees who fabricate competing offers, in my experience the overwhelming majority of multiple bid situations are legitimate. There are two main reasons for this:

 

  1. If you like a well priced, well cared for, updated house in a good location, then the chances of someone else liking it are fairly high. The notion that a buyer’s market is devoid of anyone actively looking but you is inaccurate. This is still the USA. There are still people looking to buy a home. 
  2. The consequences of fabricating a false competing offer are catastrophic. Suppose the agent lied about another offer to get you to raise your bid and it backfired-instead of raising your offer, you instead withdraw it. That agent just lost their commission, and will look pretty silly when the house never goes under contract in the MLS. Few listing agents would risk losing their entire commission and reputation when a solid sale is within their grasp. Moreover, if the seller found out, they could rightly get the agent in huge trouble with the law and real estate board. It makes no sense to take that risk, even if you don’t have scruples. 
There have been a few times when a listing goes from 2-3 offers to nothing, and that is as rare as it is rough. But it does happen. We’ve had multiple bid situations where the deal we accepted didn’t perform, and the other offers moved on to other homes leaving us with nothing. To outward appearances it looks bad. But it does happen, and as hard as we strive to have the seller go with the best buyer, you don’t know how buyers will behave until you engage them.
Westchester has a lot of really nice communities with built in demand that transcends the economy. Buyers will go for the nicer homes at the same time even in a slow market. It may seem coincidental, but in most cases coincidence is just a reflection of the reality on the ground. If you have you eye on the prettiest girl at the dance, you probably aren’t alone. The same goes with the best deals. So if you see one you like, remember that if you like it, it may appeal to others. Plan your actions accordingly. The times are on your side.  
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