Real Estate

It’s an all-cash offer world

T hroughout my career, I have seen many all-cash offers. In the past, buyers believed they should get a discount with an all-cash offer. However, I have had to explain that in the end, the cash comes to the seller no matter what, and so in a multiple-offer situation the seller is likely to take the higher offer and not a discount for cash. Well, the market has changed considerably in the last few years.

What has changed is we used to have the occasional all-cash offer, but now they are regular and there are often several at each offer date. We used to really tout all-cash offers to our sellers as rare, but now it is routine. So how can other offers compete?

It can be difficult to compete, but not impossible. I just got an offer accepted for clients in a competitive situation, and here is what we did to make our offer stand out. My clients were well informed about the market and knew where they wanted to target their search. They were fully pre-approved and had a strong lender letter. We included a personal letter about them complete with a photograph. I wrote a strong letter about my clients, how serious they were, and outlined my experience and how I would work hard to make the transaction go smoothly.

Though there was no presale contractor’s inspection included in the disclosure package, it was a newly remodeled home, which included a contractor’s warranty. We took a long look at the property and my clients decided that with the warranty they were willing to waive inspections. All this was very positive. What mattered in the end was that the seller liked how committed they were to the home and that their son’s preschool was only a half block away. You never know exactly what will resonate with a seller, but I believe that a personal letter from the buyer goes a long way. There were other offers close to ours, but this was what got our non-all-cash offer accepted.

An all-cash offer today does not make it an automatic winner. Sometimes there can be an issue with appraisals because the comparable data has not caught up. If you are getting a loan but have a cushion of extra cash, you might consider making an offer with a non-contingent loan and no appraisal to be more competitive. Be sure to discuss this with your real estate agent and lender first.

In addition, always read and approve any and all disclosures provided in advance. Include this approval in your offer package. If you are making an all-cash offer, include proof of funds (you can mask the account numbers). If you will have financing, use a well-known lender, have a strong letter from them, and have them invite the listing agent to call with any questions. Have your agent find out what information he or she can about the sellers and their situation. Try to meet the sellers’ timing needs. Sometimes a short rent-back period will help them with their move (free is very attractive). If you get the chance, you and your agent should both try to meet the listing agent in person.

Recently, I had an all-cash buyer and, once again, I had my client include a letter about herself to the seller. There were many similarities between them. I always have my clients mention what they do, where they went to school, charities they are involved in, or special interests, children and pets, etc. We are looking for that common thread that might make you stand out.

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Stephanie Saunders Ahlberg has been a real estate agent for more than 30 years and joined Hill & Co. in 1983, where she has consistently been among the top 10 salespeople. She can be reached at www.realtyinsanfrancisco.com.

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