How Not to Present a Purchase Offer in Sacramento

A real estate agent I first met 5 years ago when I interviewed her for my book, The Short Sale Savior, and later she referred a relative to me whose home I sold in Sacramento, serves on an Education Committee at a REALTOR association in the Bay area. She asked if I would do a webinar for her agents to help them to get purchase offers accepted. I generally don’t agree to do webinars or seminars because I don’t like them. Who am I to tell people what to do? Seminars are ex-husbands’ gigs, not mine. But I agreed because I can’t say no to this person. She is so danged sweet!

Sweetness gets you everywhere in this life. Vinegar, not so much.

I might start with talking about what NOT to do when writing an offer to buy a home. Because I list such a huge volume of homes in the Sacramento area, I see all kinds of offers. I can estimate that I probably receive more than 1,000 offers a year, maybe even twice that amount depending on whether it’s a seller’s market in Sacramento. It’s common today to receive a minimum of 20 to 30 offers for entry-level listings.

The unspoken truth is at least half of those purchase offers are garbage. I’m being generous with that percentage. That’s the part that agents don’t talk about because nobody wants to believe that a buyer’s agent can’t write an offer, yet that’s the first problem with many offers. There is no nice way to sugar coat this. I continually find myself defending the competency of my profession to sellers who can’t believe their eyes at some of the offers we get.

In a seller’s market, a seller and her listing agent can be very selective. Sure, there are markets in which the tables are turned, but our present market in Sacramento is a seller’s market. This means a seller can be looking for the very best offer and might be examining an offer with an eye for a reason to reject it. This is a very different approach than hoping to accept an offer, which is how sellers view offers in an opposite market. Unfortunately, buyers and buyer’s agents give sellers plenty of reasons to reject an offer. If a seller is considering 2 identical offers, one offer may get accepted simply because the other was rejected.

The trick is not to set up an offer for possible rejection. Here are some things an agent and her or his buyer should try NOT to do when presenting a purchase offer:

Clerical Offer Mistakes

  • Misspelling of names
  • Wrong property address
  • No dates
  • Missing signatures / initials
  • Incorrect mathematical calculations
  • Outdated forms
  • Missing addendums or supporting documentations
  • Sending unnecessary documents / paperwork

Writing FHA or VA offers on listings that do not offer those financing terms?

Sending the offer to the wrong agent or the wrong company or in the wrong format

Not reading the confidential agent remarks / attachments nor following specific directions

Exhibiting hostility toward the listing agent or seller

  • Sending the agent a copy of the MLS print-out or list of comparable sales
  • Demanding concessions and other unusual terms in the offer
  • Belittling the home, the seller and the home’s location
  • Yelling and screaming and use of profanity

No cover letter with the offer, hoping the terms and conditions speak for themselves. Often, they do not.

Sending a generic cover letter saying the buyer loves the home. All buyers love the home or they wouldn’t be writing an offer.

Forgetting that all offers look the same. Only the numbers and names change.

The bottom line is don’t give the seller any ammunition to reject an offer. In multiple-offer situations, a buyer should not allow her offer to be automatically eliminated from the competition. Ideally, a buyer wants her offer to be the best, at the least an offer worthy of top consideration. Give it a fighting chance.


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