The lost art of the in-person offer

This weekend I presented an offer directly to the seller in their living room. It has been over a year since I have had the opportunity to present an offer from my buyer face-to-face with the seller, and I have to say that it is a little sad that this method of presenting offers has largely disappeared in real estate. Scanners, email and fax have made it all too easy to just send over an offer with a simple cover letter. Let’s face it, it can also be a major hassle to drive all over town to present an offer in person.

I am one of the biggest techno-geeks out there, and love the fact that technology can simplify our real estate transactions and save time for our buyers, sellers and agents, so it surprises me a little bit that I actually miss the opportunity to present offers directly to sellers. I think what it boils down to is that the sale of a home remains a highly emotional event, particularly for sellers that have lived in a home for many years. Of course sellers want the highest price and best terms for the sale, but there remains a set of intangible factors that sellers still consider. Many sellers want to know more about the buyers. Why do they love my house? Will they take good care of the home where I raised my family? What are the real reasons that they are offering less or asking me to help pay their closing costs? All of those are intangible, emotional factors that are simply lost in the cold, hard text of a real estate contract sent via email. It can be tough to share those sorts of nuances in your cover letter, and anything you share with the other agent is filtered and potentially lost in translation.

I guess I’ve also seen some of my greatest real estate successes happen with face-to-face negotiation. The first home I ever bought, and the home I still live in now, was bought this way through a long, painful negotiation with a seller who had owned the home for almost 30 years. She was very particular about who she sold the house to, and it was a multi-week exercise in trust and relationship-building that ultimately led to a successful purchase. Sometimes that is what it takes to buy a particular home.

I can’t say that I’m advocating for more in-person presentation of offers, because I believe that the trend is clearly in the other direction. However, I will take the opportunity to present my client’s offer in-person when given the chance. Sometimes those little interpersonal, emotional factors can make all the difference in a successful real estate transaction.