Untangling the Bidding War: A Buyer’s & Seller’s Perspectives

Bidding War

In a competitive marketplace, bidding wars become the norm. While this may put sellers in an excellent position to recoup on their investment, it can push buyers beyond their budgets and test their temperaments in the process. As an agent, how do you navigate both sides of the coin? After all, you want to net the best results for your client—regardless of which side of the closing table they’re on. To fortify your approach to a heated bidding war, here are a few ideas and insights to better clue you in on the perspectives of buyers and sellers alike.

Buyer’s Perspective: Emotions Running High? Channel it.

When the market is booming, buyers feel the pressure—especially when affordable inventory is limited. This can create stress, feelings of hopelessness, and impulsivity. As an agent, how do you channel this emotional energy into something positive? Consider asking buyers to put those anxieties and high hopes onto paper. Have buyers outline who they are, why they’re inspired to buy a home at this juncture in their lives, and how they see their lives unfolding once they become a homeowner (or repeat homeowner). Think of it as a letter of intent. Buyers benefit from taking abstract fears and dreams and articulating them on paper. Likewise, this document can serve as a valuable tool during a bidding war. Letters like these can help sellers with multiple offers make a personal, emotional connection with a particular buyer.

Sellers Perspective: Manage expectations.

When multiple offers are rolling in on a property, it’s easy for sellers to get carried away. Numbers are flying, expectations are heightened, and sellers may become hypnotized by higher and higher offers and ideal outcomes. While it’s good to celebrate prime market positioning, it’s also important to maintain an even keel so that your seller’s mind is clear and they’re thinking rationally through their options. Sometimes the highest offer isn’t necessarily the sure thing. Manage your clients’ expectations by leading by example, offering a balanced perspective, and talking them through all potential outcomes so that they don’t only hone in on the best-case scenario. During a bidding war, tensions are running high for seller’s too, who will soon begin their next chapter in another home. Keep a cool head and remind your client to see the big picture, recognize that it’s possible for some offers to fall through, and to sit tight until the closing table has been successfully reached.

Buyer’s Perspective: How do you authentically and convincingly convey your interest?

When ten or so offers are in the mix, it can be hard to differentiate your buyer from the next. While numbers will obviously do a lot of the talking, you’d be surprised how much of a difference a personal touch can make. Some popular approaches to standing out include personal letters—as mentioned above—tailored to the property. Was the property in question a family home for years? You might have clients detail their dreams of raising a family inside those walls, rather than tear the property down and rebuild something to boost the lot’s value. Including a family photo is also a good tact for personalizing letters in a bidding war. Likewise, little gifts included with your offer can speak volumes about your personality and due diligence as an agent. It may seem a little cheesy, but when sellers are looking at ten near-identical offers, those personal touches can really paint a compelling, personalized picture.

Seller’s Perspective: How powerful is cash?

Data shows that cash offers—typical of investor clientele—double the chances of having an offer accepted. This goes hand in hand with waiving a financing contingency, which also helped boost the probability of an accepted offer, according to research. Cash is king, however, since offers that aren’t completely reliant on comprehensive financing seem to minimize risk for sellers, who are already eager to see a deal go through. Cash deals also tend to go through quickly, freeing sellers up to pursue their next property and move on to new horizons. While not every buyer has the ability to operate in cash, it’s a worthwhile consideration for those in ultra-competitive markets and with liquid capital.  

While the bidding process can be stressful for agents and clients alike, it’s important to remember that it’s a time of opportunity, too. If you want to make the most of it as a seller, data shows that a personal touch can endear buyers to their seller counterparts. For sellers navigating a competitive process, it’s important to keep a balanced perspective. For agents, here’s the bottom line: get creative, be resourceful, and use all the tools in your arsenal to achieve the best result for the clients you serve.