When WILMOTH Group lists a home for sale in Indiana or Florida, the owner of that home is our client. We want to help in any way we can to encourage offers for our listings. Unfortunately, questions are frequently asked that do not have an answer. Not because we do not know the answer- but because we fail our representation of the seller if we provide the answer. A brief explanation might help so there is not a misunderstanding why the question does not have an answer (at least one we can provide)!
Here is your advanced warning from WILMOTH Group: we will represent our selling client and not provide answers to the following commonly asked questions.
Is this home still for sale?
If our website says it is Active, then it is still for sale. If the MLS says it is Active, with no contingencies, it is still for sale. There are a couple of sellers (HUD and Fannie Mae) where a selling agent needs to know that a different process is utilized for making offers and sometimes a bid is accepted prior to the seller entering a contract. If you are going to show homes by these sellers it is a good idea to understand that your research should include an additional step because even the listing agent does not know the status without checking the same site.
How much will the seller accept?
I know there are is a guy on late night TV, driving a Bentley with girls in bikinis serving him drinks. This supposed successful investor (how is he really paying for this lifestyle?) tells people that they should ask this question before wasting anybody’s time with an offer. Any seller would be foolish if they told their listing agents to release this information as it would compromise their ability to get the best market offer. This question is like asking me if I am either 1. unethical or 2. dealing with a seller that could care less how low an offer they receive. We just will ignore the question. It has no answer.
How can I write the highest and best offer?
The best way to do this is to know the comps, look at the repairs needed, and make an offer that you or your client will not wake up and say boy, I would have paid one dollar more for that property! I think we get this question with the hope we will share the highest offer that the person needs to beat. This is also why some of the major sellers of bank foreclosures now control their own bidding sites and have taken the listing agents out of that loop.
How long has this home been on the market?
This is an awkward question because the information is available for licensed agents. For buyers without representation, this is a fair question. It is just not a question that the agent for the seller should be answering. An unrepresented buyer will be introduced to a licensed agent to represent their interest and find the answer. If you are a Realtor asking this question please consult the listing services to research the listings history.
How much will it cost to fix up the home?
This is a question that a listing agent is not going to know unless possibly they are also the owner. First, we are not contractors, Second, we provide visual inspections for the seller. Usually we have limited information on the bones of the property or the satisfactory performance of the mechanical systems. This is the kind of question a buyer should hire their own contractor to discover. If the seller has compiled this information and wants it known, we are going to include it in the marketing with detail. This is also unusual.
What types of repairs will the seller make?
The answer is easy- the ones that are negotiated into your accepted purchase agreement. If the property needs a lot of repairs, I strongly believe you should manage your own repairs after closing. Your offer should request an allowance for your list of repairs. If your financing will not allow this then you are probably using the wrong financing or looking at the wrong home.
As a listing agent for the owner, there is a burden to represent the seller’s interests or to obtain permission for disclosure of certain facts. Rarely is disclosure the best choice unless it pertains to facts that disclosure is mandated in the law. A game exists where buyers and their agents like to test us with certain questions. The answers would be in the interested buyer’s favor to know, but not in the sellers to share. After 25 years we still hear the same questions and we also hear that other agents provide the answers. If the other agents are truly doing that it is their problem. The seller we represent has to be our main fiduciary responsibility.