Friday, April 25, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Ground zero: Five offers, two letters, one house

The five offers in 48 hours to buy my parents’ former home bowled me over, especially considering the real estate market we all just barely lived through. 

But what really did me in were the letters. 

Two of the buyers submitted their offers with photos of themselves and letters professing their love for the four-bedroom California ranch house. I was a goner. 

“I haven’t seen anything like this in a long time,” said my listing agent and good friend Bill Wood. 

“They wrote letters?”

“You probably shouldn’t read them.”

“Can we sell the house to more than one buyer?” I felt seriously bad about picking just one buyer and turning down four. 

See, these weren’t just offers; they were great offers. Three were for $15,000 more than the asking price, which we had set high. One came in at asking, and one came in $10,000 below asking, but with a 90 percent cash down payment. 

I would like to pause here to let the record reflect that the multiple offers not only confirm that the market is coming back — Huzzah! — but also that the $15,000 I strategically spent on the makeover paid off, as I’d hoped, in a faster sale at a higher price than if we’d sold “as is.” Much higher meaning a net gain of nearly $100,000. Not braggin’, just sayin’. 

But back to my plight. Now, if I had put in a full-price offer on a home within hours of its going on the market, I would assume I had it. Yet the full-price offer was in fourth place.  

While part of me was ecstatic, of course, I also hated to disappoint these earnest buyers. I know what it’s like to want a house so badly you fall asleep at night arranging furniture in your head, and continue arranging right on into your dreams. 

I know what it’s like to get swept away with visions of pulling into the driveway and unloading groceries in your new digs, of hosting family and friends there, of assigning bedrooms to the kids and telling the dog all about the yard and getting his hopes all up, and of nesting so intensely you’re practically laying eggs. 

Then, poof! The deal caves like a hot cake in a cold draft. 

House love, like human love, can be so capricious. 

After Wood recapped the offers, we decided to turn down the two lowest ones (Sorry!), and ask the three remaining buyers, whose above-asking offers were all within $1,000 of one another’s, to make their best and final offers. 

Two raised their price by $10,000, the third by $5,000. 

That’s when, against Wood’s advice, I read the letters. “We love your home and can see ourselves happy there for many years to come … the backyard, location and neighborhood will provide a safe and happy environment for our kids to play and grow,” one buyer in the finals wrote. 

Attached was a picture of a family of four standing in front of a backstop. The boy, age 3, wore his T-Ball uniform and a baseball glove while the mom held his 4-month-old sister. 

Another couple, also in the runoff, wrote, “From the moment we pulled up, we were instantly sold ….We could easily picture the two of us and our little one in the living room in front of the fireplace … and having family and friends over for barbecues in the backyard.” 

They included their 18-month-old wedding picture and the news that they were expecting their first child.  

“They’re killing me!” I said. 

“Told you not to read them,” Wood said.

“What do we do now?”

“We go with the most qualified buyer.”

“You mean the one most likely to run the ball over home plate?” I said, knowing better than to use a sports metaphor.

“There’s a lot more to an offer than price.” 

Wood and I considered the three upgraded offers, weighing the following factors, which may also help you if you’re ever faced with multiple offers or competing for a hot property:

Price. The amount of the offer is easy to fixate on, but higher is not always better. In the end, we accepted the second highest offer, the one $5,000 lower than the other two, because that buyer scored higher on what else matters. 

Down payment. The winning buyer was putting 20 percent down, so only had to finance 80 percent. The other two buyers were planning to put down 10 and 5 percent. Of course, I was partial to the 90 percent cash down buyers, but their purchase price was too low.

Loan. All three buyers had been pre-approved for loans. However two were getting FHA loans, which have more red tape; the ultimate buyer was getting a conventional loan, which tends to imply better overall credit.  

Escrow. We wanted a 30-day escrow, which each party agreed to. But if one had needed a longer escrow, that would have been a drawback.

Reserves. Wood looked at the buying parties’ bank statements to see how much money they would have left after the purchase. A buyer with healthy reserves is more attractive to lenders and sellers. Unlike the buyer whose offer we accepted, the two runners-up — though they qualified for the loan — would have been more stretched financially. 

Contingencies. The winning buyer had sold a house and it had closed escrow. They had cash from that sale in the bank, and were ready to move. One runner-up had a house in escrow that needed to close. The third was a first-time buyer borrowing money from parents. We favored the buyer with no strings attached.

Love letters. Though Wood was immune to the heartstrings tactics, the letters and photos did make a difference to me. Much as I wanted to sell the place to all who loved my childhood home, the little slugger’s family will move in this week. 

Join me next week as we take the journey from offer accepted to deal done.

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through marnijameson.com.

 

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

.

News

Heard over the back fence: Advice offered writers

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

 
Big marijuana find in EDH

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Jury: Sanford guilty of murder

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Initiative seeks roundabout vote

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

 
Sheriff cracking down on Tahoe pot grows

By Tahoe Tribune | From Page: A3

 
Burn permits required May 1

By Cal Fire | From Page: A7

County backs task force to reduce human trafficking

By Chris Daley | From Page: A13

 
5 years prison for child porn

By News Release | From Page: A14

A victim tells her story

By Chris Daley | From Page: A14

 
.

Opinion

 
Income inequality

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

Billingsley’s Bullets: Marriage makes me laugh

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: A4

 
.

Letters

What happened to ‘fair and balanced?’

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 14 Comments

 
Red tape

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Is Ukraine in Asia, Europe or Latin America?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 20 Comments

 
Vote for Parlin

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

County and ‘Miwoks’ getting together

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Ray Nutting’s donation for DA

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 7 Comments

.

Sports

 
Brown leads Golden Sierra

By Rebecca Reddish | From Page: A9

Cougars 1, Grizzlies 1

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A9

 
Cougars capitalize against Union Mine

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Troy unpends Davis

By Brandon Anicich | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
El Dorado wins tri-meet

By Mike Bush | From Page: A9 | Gallery

D’backs drop the ‘Hammer’

By Mike Bush | From Page: A9

 
El Dorado spikers blank D’backs

By Mike Bush | From Page: A10

Roundup: April 23, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A10

 
On tap

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A10

.

Prospecting

Amazing production brings the curtain down for Pete Miller

By Pat Lakey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Things to do: April 25, 2014

By Democrat Calendar | From Page: B2

Cool Beerwerks is very cool

By Krysten Kellum | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Placerville celebrates Earth Day

By News Release | From Page: B3

Handcar Derby to get pumping

By Folsom Handcar Derby | From Page: B3

 
IT presents a Reader’s Theater of ‘Our Town’

By Imagination Theater | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Enjoy spring with Steiner Road wineries

By Steiner Road Wineries | From Page: B4

 
Art and brew are a perfect pair

By News Release | From Page: B5

Spring cleaning is good

Press Release | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

 
Pinewood Derby rolls at Kniesel’s

Press Release | From Page: B6

The Sacramento Music Festival celebrates world-class music

By Sacramento Music Festival | From Page: B12

 
Oak Ridge Boys come to TJ’s Corral

By Carson Valley Inn | From Page: B13

Folsom hosts Spring Antique Fair

By Folsom Historic District Association | From Page: B13

 
Viviana Guzman performs at Petroglyphe Gallery

By Petroglyphe Gallery | From Page: B13

Pioneer Jews of the Gold rush

By Folsom History | From Page: B14, 1 Comment

 
Time to join the El Dorado Community Concert Association

By El Dorado Community Concert Association | From Page: B14

.

Essentials

.

Obituaries

Frances Estelle Gilluly Fraulob

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Dorothy L. Irvin

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Jeanine Rae Henderson-Hodges

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Thomas David Ewing

By Contributor | From Page: A2

John Lawrence Olson

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Jack O’Camb

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Wesley M. Nyquist

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

Spring statistics suggest slower sales

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

 
Time to spring outdoors and fix them up

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS7

Nation’s existing home sales remain soft

Press Release | From Page: HS20

 
.

Comics

Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A11

 
Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A11

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A11

 
Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A11

Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A11

 
Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A11

Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A11

 
Horoscope, Friday, April 25, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A12

New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A12

 
Horoscope, Sunday, April 27, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A12

Horoscope, Saturday, April 26, 2104

By Contributor | From Page: A12

 
.

Home Source

Spring statistics suggest slower sales

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

Time to spring outdoors and fix them up

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS7

Nation’s existing home sales remain soft

Press Release | From Page: HS20