“Hey Julie,” came the Sunday evening text, “ we visited a house earlier today and the Agent said the Seller is accepting ‘offers as written.’ We think we’d like to submit."
In a market that often requires Buyers to wait a few weeks in order to create a blind-bidding war, ‘offers as written’ provides a nice change of pace. It’s a quicker pace to be sure, but It’s far more likely to deliver the house to the qualified Buyer who is willing to step in and pony up. (It's not for the feint of heart, the insecure, or the neophyte.)
Lest you think that this opportunity offers a discount on the sales price, it does not. Early offers, preemptive offers, transparent offers, and "offers as written" require steadfast Buyers who understand that what they are buying is actually the first right of refusal, and often, the ability to write without competition (although not always. I also wrote on another house last weekend that was supposedly "off market" but had 12 showings on Saturday and received five offers early Sunday then countered three, including ours. We came in second.) In such cases, the Buyers need to write high enough to satisfy the Sellers and to convince them that they will likely NOT do better by waiting until a published offer date further down the road.
With respect to Sunday's tale, in what is likely to break the land speed record for the home-buying process, I met with these well-qualified Buyers earlier in the week, spoke to them about their needs and wants, asked them to expand their geographical net in order to better match their “wish list, and then encouraged them to visit a few opens over the weekend.
“Sound like a plan?” I asked.
“Sounds good,” they answered.
They weren’t kidding.
They went, they saw, they conquered, and they are now happily in contract. (If only all my Buyers were so decisive.) It helped that their lender was also local and had already sent a pre-approval letter the week before. In short, we were well prepared to jump if an opportunity arose. (It did.)
It also made a difference that this property wasn’t this couple’s first home purchase. In fact, I’ve had the privilege of helping them buy and sell real estate several times before, which lays the groundwork for some fairly solid faith and trust. I don’t have to hold their hands through the process and they know they can count on me to respond quickly to their needs, even if it means we were submitting a purchase offer at 10:30 pm on a Sunday night. (Done.) Moreover, they were comfortable with disclosures and had read and approved them in quick order, making it possible to write with fairly aggressive terms. Finally, they had begun their mental move several months before and had begun to track the marketplace, meaning they understood "value" when it came along.
For other Buyers, things won't go so easily. They may spend many months searching, bidding, and losing houses before they master the learning curve and successfully land a house. Either way, it's important that my Buyers understand that I am here for them through the entire journey; the ups, the downs, the misses and the successes. I'm here to help identify likely matches, to meet for private showings, to talk through the house, to break down the disclosures, to help craft a winning offer, to navigate the escrow process, to explain the laws and responsibilities surrounding home ownership, and to deliver the keys and champagne when they take possession of their new house! And because I've been at this a good long while, I'm fairly adept at all of these subsets.
In a real estate marketplace that too often delivers more disappointments than wins for many well-intentioned Buyers, it’s important to seize the opening when it presents . . . and when it does, you may count on me to respond in kind.
Real life, real solutions, real results . . . real estate. How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.