I don’t know what’s going on lately, but in the past few months I’ve gotten several calls from real estate agents that have clients interested in my listings and they’d like me to present verbal offers to my sellers. Verbal offers are not standard practice when selling real estate in Hartford County.
The Greater Hartford Association of Realtors has a standard purchase and sale contract that is used to write and present offers on properties. The written contract outlines a purchase price, escrow deposits amounts, a mortgage commitment date, a closing date, inspections that may be performed, and a variety of other items relevant to the sale. The contract is typically supported with a mortgage pre-approval letter from a bank or lender and a photocopy of the first deposit check that the buyer provided to accompany an accepted offer. All of these items support the fact that the buyer has some level of seriousness when pursuing the property.
If your agent calls me and says that they want to submit a verbal offer on your behalf, you’re sending the message that you are not a serious buyer. You’re not interested enough in the property to sit down with your agent for an hour to work with them on writing up a contract.
With a verbal offer my sellers won’t necessarily know your name, where you live, that you’ve been pre-approved by a bank for a mortgage, that your puchase isn’t contingent on the sale of another home and a host of other important considerations. I will always advise my sellers to never respond to your offer until it is in writing. Why should they show their negotiating position if you’re not even willing to sit down with your agent and take the time to write the offer?
I’ve also been on the other side of the table where I’m representing a buyer and they want me to present an initial offer verbally. I coach them that this is not acceptable if they are truly interested in the property. We need to show that they are a serious, qualified buyer. Yes, the initial offer price might be low, but the seller wants to know that they can get a mortgage, along with all of the other factors to consider in the offer. It also protects my buyer so that if another buyer enters the picture, my buyer at least has a chance at getting the property if they choose to pursue it further.
If you’ve found a home that you like, take the time to sit down with your agent and write up an offer. You might learn something about the process and you’ll put yourself in a position to at least be taken somewhat seriously by the seller.