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Apartment Investing – Multiple Offers
“It was good?” my wife asked as I tried to lift my bloated intestine off the dining room table. My eyes were clearly bigger than my stomach. I felt like I gained 10 pounds. I was fully stuffed and ready to take a nap.
“It was very good,” I replied. “You have outdone yourself.”
He smiled and started clearing away. Even though the living room couch and my favorite blanket were calling my name, I jumped inside her to help. After finally getting all the dishes into the kitchen, she filled the sink with water, added some soap, and started washing them. I took a towel and asked: “Can I dry the dishes?”
She passed out. (She’s okay, not really.)
But you get the point. Some offers are obvious. Others are a little harder to accept. What I want to talk to you about today is how to get sellers to accept your offer when you are expecting multiple Purchase and Sale Agreements (PSAs) on a condo.
If you find a property that’s not on the market and you’re negotiating with the seller, it’s not that difficult to get an offer accepted. That’s because you’re the only game in town and have time to negotiate without the fear of someone else coming in and ripping the rug out from under you.
But what if you find a property on the market and the value makes sense? Chances are there will be several buyers writing offers on the same property. If you suspect this is the case, try these helpful tips:
If you’re buying a large property (or a building from a seller who owns several hundred units), they’re likely familiar with the PSA and likely have an attorney who will also review your offer. Even so, I’ve found that most salespeople are more receptive to offers written on standard forms. Agents are especially appreciative because they know what it’s saying and will seem much more credible when presenting the offer to the seller. The chance of having your offer accepted, instead of another offer from another buyer, is much greater if you use a standard form for your area.
Don’t get greedy. If the property makes sense and you think there will be more buyers, present the seller with an offer at or slightly above the purchase price. This doesn’t mean you become stupid. The property has to be priced right to begin with, that’s why there are more buyers. The nice thing about condos is that they rarely control exactly as portrayed. This means that you will have elements to use in the negotiation later.
Some sellers will push you to close quickly and others need time to find another property to complete a tax deferred 1031 exchange. If you can, be flexible. Find out what is important to the seller. Even if the seller wants a long closing date, I’ve found that writing an offer with a quick closing timeline is usually best, especially if agents are involved. Agents despise extended closing dates, and when two deals are similar, they almost always push the earlier closing date. You can always add a clause giving the seller the right to extend the closing of the escrow to give him time to find his next property, just make sure you remember the loan process and are aware of the interest rate. If you play your cards right, this can work in your favor in the negotiation.
Inspection and financial contingency
Most PSAs consist of an inspection period and a funding period. Some brokerage firms will break it down into many other contingencies, such as books and records and title report. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that the inspection contingency includes physical inspection and review of books, records and all other documentation. Depending on your level of experience and the size of the property, the inspection period usually takes between 21 and 30 days. Read the agreement. Most of them state that the time starts ticking once the buyer has received all the necessary paperwork. Because of this, I usually write an inspection contingency very short because the seller and/or his agent is likely to be missing something anyway. Most of the time, if absolutely necessary, I can complete the due diligence in less than 10 days. Make sure you give yourself enough time, but be aggressive. Sellers want to know you’re moving forward as soon as possible.
Regarding financing, I have found that both sellers and agents trip over themselves if I write an offer without a financial contingency. Don’t do this unless you are absolutely sure you will get the loan and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it. Making an offer without a financial contingency tells the seller that you have the wherewithal to get the loan and eventually close the transaction, but it’s not without risk.
Some investors refuse to write a deposit check payable on the escrow because if things go wrong, the seller can make it difficult to get the money back. I’m in the same group. I generally prefer to write a bill of exchange, however, if I think there will be more offers, I will write a check instead. I usually instruct escrow not to deposit the down payment check until I remove the inspection contingency.
Take up again
If you’ve bought and sold real estate before, give the seller a list of the properties you own. Sellers like paperwork that tells them you’re a serious buyer. I will also include a letter of interest from a lender if I think it will help.
Good properties don’t stay on the market for long. This means that you need to position your offer so that it looks like a piece of cake. If the vendor is serving up a great meal, sometimes it makes sense to offer to do the dishes. Ask lots of questions and be aggressive. Put your best foot forward—it’s a small price to pay, and the couch will be there when you’re ready to take a nap.
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