You would think in this real estate climate that the easiest part of buying a home in Los Angeles would be submitting an offer. After all, finding a home that is the right size in the right place at the right price that somewhat matches your style (or at least doesn’t completely offend you) is usually the biggest challenge in the always-tight L.A. real estate market, right?
Not necessarily. One of the most frustrating trends I’m seeing right now: Deals getting derailed over something stupid like lack of preparation or lack of effort.
Recently, I was working with a seller on a home in the Santa Clarita Valley, and when it came time to show proof of funds—which has become typical during a home sale—the seller’s agent was…well, less than cooperative. Instead of getting us the required financial information to review, we received a screen shot of an account showing random balances and credits—no account holder information or even the name of the bank.
Whether it was game-playing or laziness, I can’t really say. But this agent definitely knew better. And the behavior created an inconvenience and a delay for the seller—one that quite nearly left the buyer out of luck.
Remember that when a Realtor writes an offer, they are painting a picture to the seller of how ready, willing, and able their client is to buy a house. That means you, as a buyer, are probably going to have to share some financial information.
It’s not enough today to just throw a number out there. You’re up against other numbers. Some may be stronger than yours, some may not, but the one that has verified financial information behind it is the one that tends to stick. Buyers will want to see that you can afford the house, that you don’t just have the money to buy the house, but that you’re financially stable overall, and that you can close on time.
Here are a few more things you can do to make sure your offer is the one chosen:
- Be as transparent as possible—Financial abnormalities, job history issues, and credit score questions are all going to come up during the approval process. It’s best to be upfront about anything that could become problematic later on and/or take the time to improve your financial situation before starting the homebuying process.
- Get your credit in order—If you’re not completely ready to buy, get there before you waste anyone’s time. A 3.5% down payment combined with a low credit score may get you approved, but it might not get you the place you want if you’re in a competitive market.
- Don’t lowball—An offer that’s way too low might turn off the seller, causing them to reject it altogether instead of negotiating.
- Be first—Coming in with a strong offer before others have had a chance to see a property can be a winning strategy.
- Give yourself extra help—I’ve personally helped a buyer secure a home thanks to a good offer and the extra incentive of a personal letter she wrote to the seller expressing her family’s sincere desire to buy the home and make memories there. Don’t expect a letter like this to make up for a crappy offer, but it could help your good offer catapult over other good offers. Never underestimate the power of an honest emotional connection.
- Know what to do in a multiple offer situation—When you’re up against other offers and want to make sure you come out on top, talk with your Realtor about things you can do to distinguish yourself: shorten contingency time periods, waive the home warranty, or increase your earnest money deposit.
- Work with a respected agent—Someone who has the respect of his or her peers is far more likely to be able to get you the house you want at a fair price.
As a home seller, you’re not expected to know all the details involved in selling your home. That’s what your Realtor is for, and it underscores the importance of working with a good one.
Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292