We need time to decide. Will the seller let us know if they get another offer on their house?

You are eyeing a home that you want to make an offer on, but you need a little more time. Maybe you want to see it once more, discuss it more with your spouse or get the opinions of friends and family before proceeding. If you ask your agent to be informed by the seller’s agent if another offer comes in, the seller will at least give you a chance to bid, correct? In many cases the answer is no.

Indecision is part and parcel of the home buying process, particularly in a fast-paced seller’s market. However, when homes are selling quickly and competitive bidding wars are common, a home buyer is going to miss out on opportunities if they can’t make up their mind.

Why wouldn’t a seller let us know they got another offer? Isn’t it in their best interests?

yes, no, maybe, I do not know - choice or uncertainty concept - colorful sticky notes on a cork bulletin board

When we’ve represented buyers who are still making up their minds, we’ve emailed, called, texted, begged and pleaded with seller’s agents to “not accept any offers until you give our buyers a shot.” Many agents will let us know when another offer comes in, but many will not. In some cases, the agent said “sure, we’ll let you know if another offer comes in.” The next morning we wake up and the property is already pending with another buyer? What happened? Why did the seller and their agent lie to us? Wouldn’t they have gotten a better deal by having another offer come in?

The key thing to remember is that a seller is under no obligation to you or any other buyer. If they are presented with a great offer, why wouldn’t they just accept it? Also remember, sellers want to work with the most motivated buyers who are sure to close the deal. Would you select someone who made a really great, fast offer or delay things to wait for someone who can’t make up their mind?

Other sellers may want the process over with as fast as possible. Having people call and visit the home for showings while you are still living there is a hassle. The quickest way to end the hassle it to get the home in to contract.

Real estate agents representing sellers cannot control what their sellers want to do and when they do it. If the seller is entertaining multiple great offers, this is little to no incentive for anyone to chase down a party who cannot make up their mind.

What about an offer review time? Doesn’t a seller have to stick to that schedule?

Even more frustrating for a home buyer is when a home seller specifies an offer review date and then accepts something sooner without letting anyone know. For example, a seller lists the home for sale on Tuesday, saying that they will review all offers one week later. Then on Thursday, the property goes pending and all of the parties that were planning to bid are upset.

When we represent sellers and specify an offer review date, we are pretty adamant that our seller stick to that schedule. We also think that it maximizes competition for a popular house.

That said, we cannot control the decisions of our seller and are required by law to present offers to them as they are received. If someone submits an eye-popping, all-cash offer that is unbelievably great, there is nothing that prevents a seller from accepting it. In fact, we’ve used this tactic ourselves when representing a buyer who was under a tight deadline to buy. They offered a premium price to cut short the offer review time and it worked.

On a hot property, the seller’s agent is bombarded with inquires from buyer’s agents. Your buyer’s agent needs to ask specifically about the offer review timeline. “Will your seller stick to the offer review date? We’ve been burned before by sellers who cut the timeline short and accept someone’s offer early.”

In many cases, the seller and sellers agent have a firm plan for the offer review. However, if there is any sort of grey area about what the seller may do, it may be in your interests to get an offer in quickly. Of course the risk here is that if you submit a stellar offer too soon, the seller’s agent can shop your offer around to drum up more competition.

Make up your mind

The only real lesson here for a home buyer is that you need to be quick and decisive. You cannot control what the seller decides to do, but you do control the offer that you put in front of the seller. In a market where there are plenty of other buyers out there, there isn’t a ton of incentive to be accommodating to indecisive buyers, so make up your mind and make an offer.