Recently, I’ve had a noticeable trend in buyer activity of wanting to include offer deadlines. I don’t know if this is an HGTV influence, a Google influence, or some other reason for the sudden influx of questioning a deadline, but I want to be clear. In Northern Virginia, including a response deadline is NOT a common practice and does not help you as a buyer. Here’s why:
Our standard purchase contracts do include any expiration language. That means an offer is out there until a seller responds or a buyer formally withdraws the offer prior to a response.
Can you force a seller to accept your contract with a short response deadline?
No, you can’t, and frankly, all it does is show the seller how anxious you are to buy their home. In our market, where most homes sell quickly and with multiple offers, a seller doesn’t necessarily feel as though you’re the only buyer out there and most want to “feel out” the market. Think about this:
- Sellers want a bidding war. How do you get a bidding war? By allowing as many people to come through the house as possible in a short period of time (say for example – over the weekend).
- Showing your hand. If you’re going to make a great offer on the first day the house is on the market, you’re likely going to make the same or better 2-3 days later (maybe not 2 weeks later if you’re still the only buyer interested) but if there’s a ton of interest immediately, they know you’re going to be in the ring with the other buyers.
- Seller availability. Maybe the seller is out of town, strategically putting their home on the market to coincide with a vacation. Maybe they have small children and can’t respond to your 8pm deadline because of children. Maybe they live abroad and are in a different time zone and can’t accommodate a specific time. Or maybe they’re just so overwhelmed by the response to their home they need some time to figure out exactly what their next step is. Sometimes sellers don’t know with 100% certainty where they’ll go next until they know what their offer is on their home.
- Does your offer really blow their socks off? In this current market in the Spring of 2016, waiving all contingencies is common (crazy, but common) and often necessary to “win” a house. The only time a deadline has ever worked for a client of mine is when they gave the seller exactly what they wanted – no contingencies and $100k OVER asking, 12 hours after the house went on the market. That’s what the seller was looking for in the end, and they felt no remorse about accepting this offer without testing the other buyers.
In our market where housing is tight in certain pockets, deadlines just don’t make sense for a seller to adhere to. They actually do have something to lose potentially by not allowing the market to have a chance to see their homes. That’s why you’ll often see offer deadlines set for 4-5 days after a house is first listed on the market for sale. If you really want to buy a specific house, find out what they’re looking for (price, close date, other important information) and make them an offer they WANT to accept.