Hawaii Real Estate | Hawaii Relocations | Hawaii Home Buying & Selling


TOP 3 Things That May Hurt Your Contract Negotiations


Going through the ‘negotiating period of a contract’ (or in our case, multiple offers on any one property in a low inventory market) is a stressful situation for all.  I know that I will represent my client in contract negotiations without divulging personal/contract information that could hurt my client’s chances of receiving or accepting an offer.


  1. Why the seller is moving is NOT part of the negotiating period. Quite often, I am questioned by buyers at an Open House or agents flat our asking about the seller’s personal life.  ESPECIALLY WITHOUT (better yet) WRITTEN PERMISSION! WHY they are moving is none of their business.  Okay, to be a little more courteous….let’s just say I politely tell them, “I am not authorized to divulge personal information about my client”.CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS

  2. An agent creating a ‘Cover Letter for Their Buyers are not a good idea. When it is personal information about the buyer and the terms of what the buyer will or will not do…WITHOUT their permission is not a great idea.  When it says, “my client will not ask for further credits, no repairs, no anything” and then during the home inspection the buyers start asking for credits and upgrades, I kind of figure the buyer didn’t know the letter was written. That tactic certainly will be on the edge of losing a contract. The Seller does not forget that detailed two page cover letter from the agent detailing why the Seller should accept their offer.

  3. Giving away the status of the # of offers may hurt our chances of receiving multiple offers. Right off the bat a buyer’s agent/ or buyer will ask me how many offers did you receive so far? Sorry, again, I am not authorized by the seller to tell anyone the # of offers, the price of offers, what my seller will accept and so on.  What IS acceptable is writing up an offer with the terms your buyer wants and me presenting it to my seller.  



My client relationship is sacred.



So, stop asking silly questions.




Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman  is a Realtor-Associate® and Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) with Century 21 Liberty Homes in Mililani, Hawaii. With a sharp understanding that a listening ear is the key to a client's needs  she serves the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) and all Hawaii Military Relocations, Hawaii Retirees, Hawaii Job Transfers and Hawaii Residents, Home Buyers and Sellers.


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Hawaii Real Estate and Relocation Blog.

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Comment balloon 79 commentsCeleste "SALLY" Cheeseman • April 09 2015 09:17AM


Sally- everyone wants to know why someone is selling their home but thankfully, if they hire you as their agent, their information is safe.  The art of negotiating requires that certain information be kept with the owner of that information. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 4 years ago

I know right?  You would NOT believe HOW MANY Buyers, Buyer's Agents do all three of these things. It is disheartening to know that some think it should be open information or that they are somehow authorized to put terms in a cover letter instead of in the contract so we all know that the buyer knows what is happening. However, representing a seller and I know what I need to tell the seller.....the CONTRACT is what is in the terms...not a cover letter. 


Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 4 years ago

Sally I had to laugh about how many times I hear " why are they selling"?  I politely say something like 'time for a change.  That pretty much ends the conversation. As for those 'letter's from buyers that are sent along with offer - they are not a good idea and will not sway a seller in a multiple offer situation. We do disclose that there are multiple offers but not the number of offers. Who cares anyway?  If it's a multiple offer situation the buyers should give it their best shot - period.

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten - Phoenix Homes Sales, 603-380-4886 (Phoenix Property Shoppe) over 4 years ago

Sally, the same way that some listing agents try to gather information they wouldn't normally be privvy to by forcing all showings to be listing agent accompanied (so they can try to overhear conversations and judge the extent of how much the buyers liked the house), buyer's agents try to do the same by asking questions such as "why is the seller moving?".  Right or wrong, some agents don't hesitate to share that information with other agents and it's not up to me to teach them ethics. 

As for whether or not it's a good idea to let agents know if there are other offers on a listing, I've had it happen multiple times where an agent has told me there are one or more offers (sometimes without my prompting) and when I share that with my buyer, they sometimes decide they don't want to place an offer to possibly end up in a bidding war.

Posted by S. Leanne Paynter ☼ Broward County, FL, Davie, Plantation, Cooper City & Weston Specialist (United Realty Group, Inc.) over 4 years ago

You don't have to disclose the number of offers received.  You do have to disclose if any of the offers are from your brokerage.  You do have to disclose if the sellers are selling for something that may affect the buyers in the future:  a latent material defect that has surfaced, the road widening which may affect future value, etc.  I agree, that most of the questions are nosy in nature.  Some, however are part of the buyer's agent due diligence.  

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 4 years ago

I agree, that if you put in a cover letter that the buyer will not do certain things, and then they go ahead and do them, is a surefire way to kill a transaction.  

Posted by Morgan Evans, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Sally you follow a good policy in representing your Sellers, and I find it very foolish for Realtor/Agent as you mentioned in #2 to make a statement for the Buyer in writing without the Buyer agreeing to it first. 

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 4 years ago

Thanks George. No matter what, if it's not in writing that the seller is wanting to be an open book about their personal life and such, then it's no ones business. Bottom line, if representing a seller or buyer I protect their interests.

Morgan: Sure is!

Hey Carla!  Hope you and son doing good!  Yes, there are certain things we have to disclose...certianly not a cover letter from an agent specifically saying the buyer will not do this or that and then rescind.  A buyers or sellers personal information need not be disclosed unless they ask us to. The buyer can write their own cover letter if you ask me. :)

S. Leanne:  I have no problem sharing ethics violations with other agents.  I don't feel comfortable working with those that think they can help themselves to bait and swith tactics.  I'm not out to make friends with the like.  If they openly share information and my buyers don't want to put in an offer in a multiple offer situation ...well, they could lose out.  With such a low inventory it may be useless to even go out and look if the buyer is not even willing to put in an offer if there is another etc. They won't even get anything here then.


Anna>  For sure! Give it their best shot!!! 

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 4 years ago

Central theme here is loose lips can sink ships. Like the way you handle it Sally. Understand that it is hard to keep quiet at times. Seems some agents tend to have a need to talk and divulge too much sometimes.

Posted by James (Jim) Lawson, DBA, Broker Associate, RSPS, BPOR, HI & PE (DomainRealty.com LLC) over 4 years ago

Sally K. & David L. Hanson - I know Internet teaches buyers to ask these questions - the first one being - Why is seller moving? And I educate my buyers that if they were not moving, you would not be able to buy this home..!

Now I did write a letter for my buyer couple of times - and it worked! Though I am not as much in favor of that.

And quick question - what do you do in multiple offer scenario, do you accept the offer with escalation clause?

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 4 years ago

Not sure I undertand the question...we have accepted offers with escalation clauses if the Buyer's lender has indicated a higher price is affordable.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 4 years ago

I love the post and will share it with others. The first question people ask is ,'why are they moving ?' I love Praful's comment above. 

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 4 years ago

I always wonder at the question "Why are the sellers moving?" But Carla is right, it's prudent to ask if there are material defects or any issues that affect livability. Just seems they could be asked in a way that is less uncomfortable to answer. Our experience in DC is that letting buyer agents know how many offers are in hand leads to stronger offers from serious buyers and a better net for sellers. Buyers won't know how high the cap should be on their escalation otherwise.  Knowledge that there are 10-12 offers signals buyers to 'up' their game. Most buyers want something everyone else wants. They want it more. There are always a few that will be deterred by the presence of competition, but they are the 'deal hunters' and not the seller's target buyer, we find.

Have fun out there!

Posted by The Isaacs Team llc, realestateinthedistrict.com over 4 years ago

Ah come on Sally, you'll share that seller motivation with me won't you?  We're friends, right??  (We never get those questions asked do we?)

Posted by Rob Lang, Local Expert in Lawrence Kansas Real Estate Homes (At Home Kansas Team Powered by Keller Williams Partners Inc / www.AskRobLang.com) over 4 years ago

Most of my listings have a clause that allows me to disclose the existance of other offers.  Our code of ethics forbids you from disclosing that without client permission.  That allows me to use that information to my clients best advantage in a muliple offer situation.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 4 years ago

I think some times it actually helps your sale to answer these questions. Depends on the situation.

Posted by Chuck Carstensen, Minnesota Real Estate Expert (RE/MAX Results) over 4 years ago

With regard to buyers at an open house or ones I meet early in the process, they always ask why a seller is moving, and I really think that buyers have read or heard somewhere that these are questions they should ask.  It's like they want to be taken seriously & paid attention to, so they ask, as you put it, "silly questions" that they think give them credibility.  I've found that once buyers get into the rhythm of the market, these questions quickly become silly looking to them as well.  Great post.

Posted by Chris Thomas (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East) over 4 years ago

I think you would enjoy my book, Create A Great Deal, the Art of  Real Estate Negotiating. Whether your approach is right or  wrong depends on the method of  negotiating you use.  You are right if you use  Win-Lose negotiating, where anything you say "can and  will  be  used against you"  In this style of  negotiating, anything you gain is  a loss for  the other party i.e. your  gain is  their pain.  You have to negotiate that way if you cannot collaborate with the other agent.  If you use collaborative negotiating, you may want to share some of  this information if you  have your client's permission.  I emphasixe that you need your client's permission. The previous comments make a good point that if you disclose that you have many offers is  actually beneficial  to the seller as it will  cause the buyers to make higher offers.  Similarly, I did a negotiating where we told the buyer that the sellers were moving to their new custom house that was under construction.  As a result, we negotiated a sale where the buyer closed quickly but allowed the sellers to rent the house back until the construction was finished.  The sellers knew their house was sold when their new house was finished so they avoided their biggest fear of having two mortgage payments.   This Win-Win result would not have been possible without sharing this information.  So, the answer to whether you share information is "it depends" as negotiating is truly an art where you use differnet techniques and tools depending on the situation.   If anyone needs help in a real estate negotiation, go to www.NegotiatingConsultant.com .  Thank you for sparking an interesting discussion.

Posted by Tim Burrell, Negotiating & Short Sale Professor (Author "Create A Great Deal" & "Create A Short Sale") over 4 years ago

In my experience, Buyers who ask personal questions about the Sellers are just looking for a way to gain an advantage in negotiating.

If you are the agent of the Seller, giving out your clients personal info can be a very slippery slope.

Posted by John Dotson, The experience to get you to the other side! (Preferred Properties of Highlands, Inc. - Highlands, NC) over 4 years ago

Agree with all of that Tim.  What's been interesting to me ever since the "bust" has been watching buyers' reaction to the thought of entering into a multiple offer scenario as one of dread leading to withdrawal in many cases.  Whereas in the "boom years" the idea that the seller was getting another offer or offers would seem to catalyze buyers to jump into the pool.  Since the fallout, I've adjusted how I discuss multiple offer situations with other agents and buyers for the simple fact that for a number of them, they'll withdraw.  As a listing agent, that's not what we want typically.

Posted by Chris Thomas (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East) over 4 years ago

When representing the buyer about to make an offer, I ask the listing agent what "the sellers' situation is," not "why are they selling?" That way I can craft an offer that might meet their needs as far as a closing date or lease-back. The way I look at it, an offer is a sales document, and the more information I can get about the sellers, the better chance I have of an accepted offer.

Posted by Robin Rogers, CRS, TRC, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser (Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas) over 4 years ago

1.  Because they want to.

2.  Agreed. 

3.  Agreed.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Why one is selling is not important.  Why one wants to buy should be the only why that matters to prospective buyers.

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 4 years ago

All great points and should be taken seriously by all agents ~ seller or buyer's.

thank you for posting.

Posted by Sharon Kowitz, Cary, NC Relocation Specialist ~ Buying or Selling (CRS-SRES-ABR-GRI-E-Pro-CREN Fonville Morisey Cary, NC) over 4 years ago

Oh, you have opened my sarcastic can of worms today.  When asked "why are they selling?" I want to say the roof leaks, the neighbors have loud parties that last into the night, cats use the flower beds as a litter box, and the termites are chewing the place up. Instead I nicely respond that their real estate investment needs have changed. That short sentence covers it all without having any impact on your fiduciary responsiblities or your seller's negotiating position.

As to how many offers have you had? Come on folks, obvioulsly none that are acceptable. So do the math...ZERO, or the house would have a SOLD SIGN on it.

Cover Letters?  Your buyers are not running for office, they are wanting to buy a house. If the sellers and buyers really wanted to get personal they would either go FSBO and cut you out of the listing, or ask to negotiate face to face. All the seller really cares about is "does this buyer have the ability to pay the amount I am asking me for my wonderful home?" and all the buyer cares about "does this house meet my real estate needs, has the seller kept the property in reasonable repair, and how much can I negotiate off the price?" 

No seller really cares that Junior will love riding his bike in the Cul de Sac, or if Missy's Brownie Leader lives next door. They do care that the family wants the house and can pay for it.

Now let's get to settlement, so I can get these buyers happily involved in that house.

Posted by Bill Morrow, Bill Morrow, Associate Broker (Keller Williams of Central PA) over 4 years ago

We get the "why is the seller moving" question on occasion.  But, living in a small town, news travels fast and many times, the buyer already knows and will say "I heard that they are moving because..."  The important thing for the buyer is that the seller is selling.  If the seller requests me to tell the prospects the reason, I do.  If not, it's not discussed.

We don't do cover letters here.  If one was done, I would not write it.  It would be something that the prospective buyers could write and I would read to recommend if something needs to be removed.  But, as was said above, the sellers aren't really interested in reading the story behind it.  They just want to get the negotiations going.  

If my seller gives permission, I will disclose the number of offers and if the seller requests, the amounts.  In Texas, we can disclose to all parties the amounts of the offers with permission, but it must be to all parties.  In regard to the amounts, it's disclose to all or don't disclose at all.  It really depends on the situation on hand to determine if it should be addressed.

Most of the time though, we do not get multiple offers here.  Not enough people looking for the same type of home and we are not in a hot market here.

Posted by Carolyn Shipp, Mineral Wells Texas Real Estate (Source 1 Real Estate) over 4 years ago

You have hit on my three pet peeves. I want to answer it is none of your business but I usually find a more appropriate and professional way to answer. Great post.

Posted by Debbie Reynolds, Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent (Platinum Properties) over 4 years ago

Three interesting issues that I always enjoy reading about and considering. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Nathan Gesner, Broker / Property Manager (American West Realty and Management) over 4 years ago

I could not agree with you more on all items on your list.

Posted by Teri Pacitto, Real Estate, Your Style...Your Home...My Specialty (Compass) over 4 years ago

Interesting blog post and comment string.  As always, the "it depends" lurks in the background, and ALWAYS, sellers' permission is paramount.  It was enlightening to read the responses to your post.  I do find that many agents will share information without realizing that they are.  The actual sellers that insist on being home for showings are even worse.  :)  Thanks for your post.

Posted by Cara Marcelle Mancuso, Call a Marana neighbor, I'm THERE! LONG REALTY (Long Realty - Dove Mountain, Marana AZ) over 4 years ago

Sally - Good post and certainly a thought provoking one.  Each situation is a bit different and at times some of these things you mention can and do work favorably. In other words, and IMO, these aren't necessarily a "one size fits all" scenario.  The key thing is no matter what, have a very clear understanding and agreement with your seller on exactly what they would allow you to divulge or not.  The rest is common sense and what your gut tells you.  Again, IMO.

Posted by Greg Mona, Real Estate in the 21st Century! (Faira Homes Corp) over 4 years ago

I agree with Tim Burrell. My comments would have been similar to his, however since he has already posted them (and much more eloquently than I would have) I'll simply give him a nod of agreement.

Posted by Keith Whited (RE/MAX Gateway) over 4 years ago

I just recently had a buyer cancel a showing; due to the fact that in the ad the listing agent stated; "multiple offers- submit highest & best 1st time around".


Which I think was a "fluke" because a few days later he called & asked if my buyer was "interested" in the property because he currently has no offers.


The buyer's approval was 15k above "list price"; however he was intimidated by the announcement & decided to cross that 1 off the list.

Posted by Adell Forbes (REALTOR®), "Knowledge & Experience Working for You" (PalmerHouse Properties ) over 4 years ago

It's funny when someone asks me what my clients are willing to take for their home...list price is always a great answer! I enjoyed the post Sally, great information that agents can and (should ) use for the sake of effective negotiating.

Posted by Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!, So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR (Prado Real Estate South) over 4 years ago

The whys' of a seller's reasons to sell may be a curiosity to a buyer, and can certainly be divulged at the closing table and not before.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 4 years ago

I agree. When a buyer asks me why the seller is selling, I asked them if they would write a higher offer if they knew. That  usually ends that conversation. This is the influence of the internet real estate guru's who all tell you to ask that becuase if it is a divorce situation as an example, the seller HAS to sell so the buyer can offer less.  TOO many buyers and their agents do not concentrate on the offer itself. When I speak to my buyers, I do NOT let them be influenced by how many offers there are. We know it is a competitive market, so give it your best shot, based on the property and the surrounding prices, and the market. Buyers who do not write becuase there will be a multiple offers scenario are missing out. 

Posted by Antoine Pirson, When integrity is important to you too (Caldecott Properties) over 4 years ago

In the Houston area market listing agents are commonly noting in agent remarks "muliple offer situation."  And this is appreciated since it helps buyer agents that are trying to explain to buyers that they can't offer less than list price and expect to have their offer accepted.  It can also prevent agents and their buyer clients from even BOTHERING with writing up an offer if the situation is a bidding war and the list price is already at the top of what the buyer qualifies for.

But even then Texas law requires that the listing agent have written permission to disclose multiple offers, and in NO CASE are listing agents permitted to divulge price and terms of existing offers.

Posted by Kate McQueen, Tailored service for your real estate needs! (CB&A Realtors) over 4 years ago

Seems like anymore that in the mid-level price range and down that multiple offers are often the norm rather than the exception.  Better get used to doing this a lot. 

Posted by Rob Arnold, Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F (Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc.) over 4 years ago

James---Loose lips indeed sink ships!

The Isaacs Team. ....bottom line...we get multiple offers with outrageous offering prices...well knowing it will NOT appraise for those prices. These are the USDA and VA loans with 100% financing who are just wanting to get in contract. There are other terms besides price that we all have to consider as well.  TERMS and PRICE all play a role. Bottom line is that we represent our clients without leading on to the other party what our clients 'want'. We don't have the right to 'think for our clients".

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 4 years ago

Good post and comment string.  My thoughts and actions really depend upon each situation.  I believe it important to be open and work together.  Often in our current market we deal with multiple offers. This we do disclose to all agents but not price or terms.  Both Buyers (when representing) and our Sellers are brought into the loop early in the process to expect a full net sheet for each transaction since the Over list price contract, may actually net out less than a 99% list price offer... It's all about the closing numbers and it pays to be knowledgable when working those up for your (or the) Seller's consideration.

Posted by Ingrid Pierson, Making Friends & Helping Friends with Real Estate (HomeTown Realtors) over 4 years ago

Hey Rob!  HA...really?  lol. Nice 'seeing' ya!

Lenn:  Plain and simple!



Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 4 years ago

Ed:  Here, we do not all meet at the 'signing table'.  Buyers and Sellers sign separately.  Our closings (recording)  occur after signing (usually at escrow or lenders or even at offices with a roving notary), then funding (1-3 days later, depending on the lender and where they are) and our Bureau of Conveyances NEEDS 2 days to record the deed. WHY?  It's just how it is. 

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 4 years ago

I like all the professional responses, good work Sally.  In fairness, a buyer's agent would not be doing their job if they didn't ask those "silly" questions.  Too me, it's all part of the process and I don't take anything personally. 

Posted by Wayne Miller, A Real Estate Consultant Who Listens (Keller Williams Realty SD Metro) over 4 years ago

I tend to agree with you.  However, I have had buyers write letters to my sellers and it got them the home.  They did try to play games during escrow and I just pointed out I had a stack of offers if they no longer wanted the property.

When you have good multiple offers I think it pays to let the other buyers no as it brings their offers up and weeds out the pretenders.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Debbie...yeah...so do I.  It's annoying when there are those that SPEAK for their clients. Did the buyer even know that the agent wrote the cover letter divulging their personal history and what they will or will not do during a transaction?  Same thing for sellers...I think the proper thing to do is ask our clients what they want us to tell. TELL ALL, SOME OR NONE AT ALL.

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 4 years ago

Amen, hallelujah, and pass the cheesecake! An agent that get's it! While it is legal, and even ethical to ask the questions, it is often illegal, and always unethical to answer those questions. I cannot count how many times I have asked the questions, and agents open their mouths and tell me all I need to know to use the information against their own clients. SHUT THE HELL UP ALREADY!!! Oh, and the number of offers is the stupidest question you could ever ask. The correct question is this, "Is the seller still accepting offers?" DUH! There can be 97 offers for a $100 all below $100, when my client brings their highest and best of $98, they just might win the deal! Submit the offer, they just might win!

Posted by Richard Foster, J.D., Broker (58356) - ABR/M, CREN, CRS, GRI, RRG, SFR (Nevada Perfect Homes) over 4 years ago

RIGHT ON RANDY!  Yes, our COE means a lot to the most of us. Some think it's not our job to say anything.  In any case, if others want to have loose lips I do believe it's my responsibility to bring it up. It does give one something to think about.  I had one agent up front tell me she's so sorry and thanked me for telling her. Constructive criticism never hurt anyone. I will always believe that I can never keep learning and always want to do things the right way.  Who wants to look over their shoulders all the time???

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 4 years ago

Totally agree with #1 and #2. It is common in my area to disclose if we have offer(s) in hand. In a sellers market (as it is here right now), disclosing offers in hand can help the seller get a higher price for their property.

Posted by Cynthia Larsen, Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA over 4 years ago

Often had buyers ask me why the sellers have put the property on the market and also agents. I just tell them I'm not at liberty to divulge that information. If my client wants the property bad enough they will put an offer in  that is either the listing price or in a 1-5% range with little conditions asked of the seller. Why does it matter the seller's reason to put it on market? Maybe they just don't want the responsibility of a property owner especially if they work for a company that relocates them. Like the military changing posts. 

Posted by Theresa Akin (CORPUS CHRISTI REALTY GROUP) over 4 years ago

Excellent points, Sally -- and I'd add one more to your list: it does not matter what the seller paid for the home or how much profit he may be getting. The buyer is not profit police.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ) over 4 years ago

I guess I have to disagree with most on point #2. I frequently include a cover letter introducing my clients to the Sellers. It's carefully crafted not to compromise their negotiation position. I feel it's usually not just a bottom line business transaction for Sellers, they are selling their home, it's often personal and they want to know more about who is buying their home.

Never has my cover letter compromised my client's negotiating position and I know for a fact that several times (that I know of) the cover letter got my client's offer accepted when there was a better offer available.

As far as why the Seller is moving. I will ask because the Seller's motivation, or lack there of, may help my client's  negotiating position and my client's best interest is my primary concern. If the listing agent doesn't want to tell me that's fine, but I will ask.

Posted by Dave Hymes (RE/MAX Gold) over 4 years ago

I used to write a cover letter to introduce the buyers to the sellers.  It's not something I do all the time now, as I once did.  

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 4 years ago

In answer to buyers' or agents' question why the seller is moving I often ask back: What does it matter?

I mean, listing agents do not ask buyers' agents how come their buyer hasn't found a house yet. That's just as personal.

Posted by Sylvia Jonathan, Broker Associate, SFR (Coldwell Banker Platinum Properties) over 4 years ago

Aloha, Sally! Great post and I am laughing at how you describe getting those questions I get so often. "Loose lips" have helped me help my buyers on more than one occasion. 

Posted by Kathleen Luiten, Kauai Luxury Ocean Home Sales (Resort and Second-Home Specialist) over 4 years ago

I enjoyed reading your post, Sally.  All great points, indeed.  Personal information regarding the Buyer or Seller is 'personal'. 

Posted by Christi Farrington, ~ Your representative in Fairfield County, CT (Dagny's Real Estate) over 4 years ago

I happen to like Buyer Letters, assuming they are written by the buyer.  That said, I recently had a conversation w/an agent who says she takes out the letters when she presents the offers to her seller.  "It's about the net to them.  They shouldn't be making decisions based on liking a buyer better."

Examples of why removes letters and photos is that she doesn't want the seller to make a decision about whether there is a "family," a "married couple with children," a "gay couple," or persons of a certain ethnic or religious lineage.

Gosh. Really?  I still have ways around that issue, but it's sad our country has come to this point.  I know that I'd love to sell my house to someone who appreciates it for what it is, rather than someone who just outbid the less affluent person because they COULD.  Just sayin'....

Posted by Rita Harris, Specialty: Immigrant families & vintage homes (W.P. & Assoc.) over 4 years ago

It is a good idea to check with the sellers re: multiple offers.  Sometimes, sellers do want to make know the fact there are multiple offers and request all buyers to submit their highest and best offfer.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 4 years ago

When my son was looking for a house, if the agent told him there was already an offer in he would say "Then let's skip looking at that one." He didn't want to get into a bidding war. 

Back when I was an agent I struggled with whether or not to say there was another offer because some people were like my son and others seemed to assume that it was something agents said to get them to make a higher offer. Saying something like that seemed to open a door to mistrust.

Of course, in our community having more than one offer on a house was not a common occurrence. 

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 4 years ago

#54  Over the years I've learned what NOT to do. I ask my clients if they would like to include a cover letter with their offer. I can type it out for them...and they sign it. TOO often, an agent will list what the buyers will or will not offer (just put it in the contract!) and then renig on it after the buyers start asking for everything under the sun (or a very large credit amount) after the home inspection.  THAT alone tells me the buyer most likely did NOT know his agent created this letter. Another hint is when I flat out remind them of the letter they included with their offer. HMMMM...bait and switch comes to mind.lol

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 4 years ago

#59  Rita....that's exactly it.  Have the buyers write their own letter. AT the very most, we can have our clients on the phone/sitting right there and us typing the letter according to what they are saying to include in the letter. Bottom line, the client signs the letter. No chance of having a buyer come back and say, hey, I didn't say that!!!

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 4 years ago

Good Morning ALL!  Many of you suggest that letting them know that there are multiple offers is a good thing in order to get the highest offer. In many instances, that is NOT the only thing we're looking for. An absurd price that won't appraise is not a good thing. Also, the terms are VERY important. Put an absurd offer price and ask for 3% back for closing costs. WHy would I want my seller to be bound by that credit if the property doesn't appraise? 


Yeah....there is more to a contrac than just price.

Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 4 years ago

Ahhhh - the "Cover Letter". I've read for years about them, considered doing them, but didn't want to give away that part of MY negotiation leverage. Now, if we ever get to multiple offers here, maybe then....

Posted by Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Associate Broker, email: Travis@theSOLDman.me / cell: 334-494-7846 (iXL Real Estate-Wiregrasss\) over 4 years ago

Disclosing whether or not there are other offers and if so how many is part of the listing agreement. When I ask an agent if they have any registered offers, I usually hear a "Not Yet", "Six so far so we're going to present on Monday evening", or "The seller has not given me permission to reveal that information."

Many listing agents even update their listing remarks to let everyone know when they have multiple offers and when offers are due and presented. 

Posted by Dana Hollish Hill, Lead Associate Broker (Hollish Hill Group, KW Capital Properties) over 4 years ago

Great tips. Certainly have to be aware of what to disclose.

Posted by Jairo Arreola #SOLDBYVETERAN, VA Home Loan Specialist - SF Bay Area (PRG Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Lots of interesting comments, yet, inquiries by buyers or other agents IMO is just small talk to engage the seller's agent. A professional wouldn't need to know any of that information, they would simply submit an offer and begin the closing process. Nevertheless, great post.

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) over 4 years ago

Thanks for the great reminders.  Always good to hear.

Posted by Jennifer Shenbaum (Jennifer Buys Houses) over 4 years ago

Lots of different takes on this post and since we're all sole proprietors, that's to be expected!

I've been in a couple of situations where my buyer-client wanted to write a letter to the seller and in each case, it was their idea so I didn't discourage it, but I did proof read them to make sure they weren't crossing the line in any way.

We have been in a multiple offer market for 3 years running but I can't say there is definitive evidence that those clients who wrote letters were any more successful then those I represent who write good, clean solid offers.


I will say that I always ask the listing agent if there are offers on the table and if so, are they in a multiple offer situation. I only do that so I can advise the buyer on the structure of the offer we are going to write. I. like the listing agent on the other side, do everything I can to best represent the buyer. If what I'm asking the listing agent seems silly or none of my business, so be it. I'm doing it for a reason. If I'm the listing agent then I agree with most of your post.

Posted by Blake Russell over 4 years ago

It is so easy to share information in casual conversation..it is natural for a buyer to ask 'why are the sellers moving' -- but I understand the reason does not need to be disclosed.

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) over 4 years ago

Dear Sally,

Sometimes, I do not even know the exact details about why someone is moving. Not everyone shares this with their agent. Good question. Next question ....

Posted by Dörte Engel, ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland (RE/MAX Leading Edge) over 4 years ago

Well said.  I too keep my client's information confidential unless I am 'authorized' to do so, in writing, otherwise.  Thank you for sharing.

Posted by Jaretta Buckholtz, MBA, Passionate-Professional-Patient (Pearson Smith Realty, LLC) over 4 years ago

Although always up to the seller, your take on #3 is interesting to me.    In my area, if a house isn't getting multiple offers it probably will sell for around asking price (unless it's overpriced/deteriorated etc.).    If it is getting multiple offers, the buyers need to think more carefully about offering the best possible terms + how much they are willing to pay for that particular property.    I'm not sure why a seller wouldn't want the existence of multiple offers disclosed, as it seems to me to push ready and willing buyers to write offers which are better for the seller.

Posted by M.C. Dwyer, Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist (Century 21 Showcase REALTORs) over 4 years ago

Sally - There are pros and cons to letting buyers know about multiple offers.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 4 years ago

Good post.

I am of the opinion that a love letter from the client is never a bad idea. It can't hurt. Just sayin.

There was a time, and I still do it when I get a chance, when the selling agent would present the offer to the seller. That is allowed you know. It is also a good opportunity to get your buyers to look like real people in front of the seller.

Posted by Barry Kessler, Barry Kessler (CENTURY 21 Troop Real Estate) over 4 years ago

All points are very important to keep in mind when we are representing our customer. I agree 100% with you. The buyer wants to get the property and nothing else. Every requests beyond the home are not a part of the contract.

Sunny greetings from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Posted by Andrea HoffDomin, - in Real Estate always on your side! (Florida Dream Homes Realty) over 4 years ago

I don't think there's a problem asking a listing agent if there are other offers already in play.  If there are, my buyer's strategy on making a strong offer may change. I also have buyers who don't want to even SEE a house that already has offers.  

I agree with your other points.


Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667 (MT), 914-419-0270 (NY), Broker in NY with Grand Lux Realty and in MT with (coming soon!)) over 4 years ago

Hi, I can't believe I missed this post, great read on todays hot topic. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Winston Heverly, GRI, ABR, SFR, CDPE, CIAS, PA (Winston Realty, Inc.) over 4 years ago

I am not making up what you are about to read

Last year I got a letter for a potential buyer  in a multiple offer situation that among other things described how wonderful the yard would be for her four year old.  Her offer price was just too low and but  the letter touched my seller so we countered that buyer.  When the buyers agent came back and said:  No that is the best offer she would make because  she did  not like the cracks in the drive way ,,, we said:  what was  all that about her  four year son old playing on the swings in his Captain America suit ... and the buyers agent said,,,"She doesn't  have kids," 

Well my clients did have a four year old and  the buyer got the idea to make  her appeal for purchase in an exploitative way as she picked up clues as  what to write in  her letter from the family  she wanted to buy from.... Hows that for the best way ever not to get the house!  We went with another offer.

Posted by Nancy Robinson Ranked #6 in MI, #11 Century21 Realtor in the US, #16 in the World (Century 21 Town and Country) over 4 years ago

I just read Nancy's comment above.  It reminded me of why I never use personal letters from buyers or sellers.

My question is always, "What does the contract say".

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 4 years ago

That was indeed a horror story!


Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) over 4 years ago

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