Do you have any offers yet?

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO

I'm puzzled by that question sometimes. As an REO agent, I hear it from other agents frequently. Most of my listing agreements do not even give me the right to disclose that information until an asset manager specifically tells me to do so (usually via a call for Highest and Best offers). I'll set that important fact aside right now for the sake of discussion.

Yes, of courseIf I say "Yes," does that mean you are not even going to show the property about which you have, obviously, received an inquiry or which you have spotted for a client? Or would a "Yes" from me dissuade you from writing an offer for a client to whom you have shown the property? In both cases, then, it does not serve my client's best interest to answer "Yes."

Sometimes, a "Yes" from me would serve my client's best interest; and that would be when the other agent would be encouraged to put a rush on showing the house and/or apply pressure to a recalcitrant client who needs that extra push of competition in order to finally write the offer.

Truthfully, though, that is not the case in most instances. When I engage the other agent in conversation about why s/he needs to know if I have offers, s/he usually admits to still being in the stage of deciding whether or not to show the property. The mere existence of an offer eliminates my listing. Given that fact, how would YOU answer the question if you were the listing agent? It might be a bad offer that I have, after all. Your client might be a better match for this property, but we will never know if you don't show it.

What I usually answer, when asked "Do you have any offers" is simply that the property is still available. If an offer has been accepted, I say that one has been accepted (if I am allowed to do so). When I will not elaborate, it is because I cannot do so, either in recognition of my client's best interest or due to my specific contractual obligations.

Don't be surprised, then, if your do-yo-have-any-offers-yet is followed by my, "Why are you asking that question?" It's not me being snarky; it's me trying to serve my client's best interest. Or, maybe I'm just keeping statistics about why agents and buyers ask the question.

Show the house or write the offer, if you really have a client for whom the house is a good fit. Do it right away, just in case I do have offers. You probably asked the question, because you believe the house is a good deal.

By the way, when the property is under contract, the listing says "Pending" or "Pending Continue to Show." Even then, the game may not be over, as contracts fall through all the time.

Posted by

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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  1. Donald Bradbury 01/19/2011 09:36 PM
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Rainer
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Andrew Martin
Keller Williams - Danville - San Ramon, CA

I honestly don't believe the bank tells you not to answer peoples questions honestly.

Can you copy and paste the part of your listing agreement where it specificallys says to not discuss anything with agents? I personally think REO agents make this stuff up and are so afraid of losing their REO account that they become some interpreter of the rules for their own sake. Seriously, isn't it really all about keeping sqeeky clean with your REO account and not servicing your fellow agent community and the buying public.

If I call and ask if there's any offers and you tell me yes theres 2 at asking price or over or under, or no there's none, where's the harm? My buyers going to determine what their going to do regardless.

Sorry, but you really hit a hot button of mine.

But seriously, please cut and paste where it says to never discuss the truth.

Jan 19, 2011 09:50 PM #36
Ambassador
1,569,371
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Liz, and EVERYTHING does not have to be revealed just because you are asked a question...

Jan 19, 2011 10:41 PM #37
Rainmaker
393,386
Tni LeBlanc
Mint Properties, Tni LeBlanc (805) 878-9879 - Santa Maria, CA
JD, MA, REALTOR, CalBRE # 01871795

In my experience, the proper question to ask an REO agent is "do you have any unexpired offers?"   LOL. REO agents routinely issue multiple counter offers on expired offers and no one says a peep.

Do I want to trot my client out to a client when you are sitting on 15 expired offers that you intend to counter as if they were live?  No.  So, I'm going to ask.  But, I do understand that you are doing your job.  

Once I learn your standard routine, I will simply inform my client that you will not disclose whether there are any offers.  No harm no foul.  The current real estate market is difficult to navigate - that's why people definitely need a buyer's agent.  I would not be offended at your stance.

I agree sometimes disclosing the presence of offers may hurt your client.  And disclosing the presence of expired offers may benefit your client - which REO agents do all the time and I believe it to be a misleading practice.  No one else seems to think its a big deal though. 

There are a lot of things that need cleaning up.

Jan 19, 2011 10:42 PM #38
Rainmaker
265,502
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Curt (#17)~ I'd also like to see an ethics clause that says an agent will not call to say they are bringing an offer unless they actually have an offer! I hope you got my point, though, in the original blog post. I am NOT advocating lying. I am saying that I don't always have to answer the question, just because it is asked.

As to "best and final"--calling for that does not always mean that there are multiple offers. It means the seller wants to see the best offer this client will bring.

Mary (#18)~You have a great way of dealing with the issue.

Michael (#19)~ Thanks! I'm sure glad a few folks are willing to see the seller side of it.

Chris (#21)~ Yes, sometimes the paperwork is slow. Again, though, I do disclose verbal acceptance unless specifically told not to do so. Thanks for knowing that your job and my job both entail following our respective clients' directives.

Jan 19, 2011 11:55 PM #39
Rainmaker
265,502
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

John (#23)~ Thanks for the honest opinion. Our ethics require us to follow our client's legal instructions. Fair is not really a legal concept, as it is largely dependent upon perspective.

Nowhere did I say that I would or do lie to other agents. What I do, however, is represent MY CLIENT'S best interest. Sometimes, that means I do not disclose what I am not legally bound to disclose.

Again, I repeat, my blog topic had to do with offers--not accepted offers. I disclose accepted offers (unless instructed not to). Yes, it may take days (not usually weeks) to get a seller signature on an accepted offer. That is why I tell agents when I have an ACCEPTED offer. Offers that have not been worked yet are an entirely different matter.

Jan 20, 2011 12:11 AM #40
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Tom Branch
RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs - Plano, TX
Broker, CDPE, SFR, ACRE, Plano TX Ambassador

Andrew #36,

Standard of Practice 1-15 - "REALTORS®, in response to inquiries from buyers or cooperating brokers shall, with the sellers' approval, disclose the existence of offers on the property."

The SOP is very specific about, "with the seller's approval." I read that to mean that the default is not to disclose.

The Standard Texas Listing Agreement only grants the listing broker the authority to disclose the existence of multiple offers. It states nothing about offers in general.

Since it's not specifically authorized in the listing agreement, I'll argue the listing agent should not disclose the existence of a single offer. If you call the agent and they refuse to disclose, they're not failing to tell you the truth, they're following the lawful instructions of their client.

That's my take on the letter and spirit of the SOP and the Texas Listing Agreement.

In practical application, I suspect if there are no working offers, the listing agent would tell you so in an effort to generate an offer.

Note I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV...

Tom

 

Jan 20, 2011 12:13 AM #42
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Tom Branch
RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs - Plano, TX
Broker, CDPE, SFR, ACRE, Plano TX Ambassador

Liz,

"Fairly" was removed from Article 1 of the COE in 2001.

"When representing a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant, or other client as an agent, REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client. This obligation to the client is primary, but it does not relieve REALTORS® of their obligation to treat all parties honestly."

Tom

Jan 20, 2011 12:17 AM #43
Rainmaker
265,502
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Tom (SCA #25)~ Thanks! That's an honest answer.

Jerry (#27)~ Does your listing agreement give you permission to do that? Remember that I am talking about mere offers, not ACCEPTED offers. I just rechecked three of my Master Listing Agreements with various REO vendors, and none of them gives me the right to disclose the presence of offers. I do not have regular state listing contracts with REO vendors, but I also checked the Missouri state listing contract. It requires SPECIFIC permission of the seller before the existence of offers can be disclosed. Your mileage may vary by state, of course.

Thanks, Jerry, for the compliment and best of luck to you, as well!

Jeanne (#35)~ I don't know about your MLS, but mine REQUIRES a signed contract before a listing can be pended. That is why I put HOLD-Do Not Show on my listings that have accepted offers. It's to let agents know that something is in the works. No phone call needed there, if the agent simply reads what I have put in the Hotsheet remarks.  See, I do disclose. Talking about having it both ways, though, an agent who is not willing to compete and even to face disappointment should shy away from aggressively priced REO properties. Even when there are no offers, that can change in a heartbeat. Maybe the HOLD-Do Not Show method is one that would work for agents in your MLS. Send a link to this discussion to some of the area REO agents. You may make a difference for everyone!

Jan 20, 2011 12:31 AM #44
Rainmaker
265,502
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Andrew (#36)~ See #42.

At the risk of repeating what I told Jerry (in my response #44): I just rechecked three of my Master Listing Agreements with various REO vendors, and none of them gives me the right to disclose the presence of offers. I do not have regular state listing contracts with REO vendors, but I also checked the Missouri state listing contract. It requires SPECIFIC permission of the seller before the existence of offers can be disclosed. Your mileage may vary by state, of course; but I agree with Tom's reading of the ethics AND I know what the contracts actually say. The Fannie Mae MLA is 10 pages long. Sorry, no cut and paste is needed, because the permission to disclose is simply not there.

Tom (#42 and #43)~ Do ya wanna be my buddy? Well, you already are! Thanks, especially, for the "fair" clarification. "Honest" I can handle. Nowhere in my blog or in my answers did I advocate lying to another agent, and I'm glad that you see the difference.

So does Gary (#37). Thanks, also, Gary!

Tni (#38)~ I think you and I would get along famously. "Expired" offers would be a great topic for a different blog entry. I am often asked how long a response will take. I can guess, of course, and I do try to give a good answer to that question; but the fact is that the REO seller will answer in their own timeframe. Most often, the seller's website does not even have a place to enter the offer's expiration date. Maybe that is a little-known fact. If a buyer wants the offer to expire in a short time, they should put that on the offer. Regardless of what expiration is on the offer, the seller will often respond after that date. If the buyer still wants in, the buyer will act accordingly. Thanks for understanding the "you do your job, I do my job" aspect!

 

Jan 20, 2011 12:56 AM #45
Rainmaker
393,386
Tni LeBlanc
Mint Properties, Tni LeBlanc (805) 878-9879 - Santa Maria, CA
JD, MA, REALTOR, CalBRE # 01871795

I agree.  I really liked your posting because it both takes seriously our obligation to the seller's best interest and the Code of Ethics.  You are, indeed, a rare breed!  

I am well aware that REO agents get boxed in by computer portals.  But I would grieve an agent that did the same on an "ordinary" listing.   Wouldn't you?

I love people that take things seriously -- that's who I would be listing my property with!

This is really a great post.  I love it!

Yes, a post on REOs and expireds would be great, but I'm sleepy!

Jan 20, 2011 01:08 AM #46
Rainmaker
265,502
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

{Blush} Gee, Tni, thanks again! I do take the job seriously--the ethics and the law.

Yes, REO agents get boxed in by computer portals AND asset manager overloaded schedules. Sometimes, there are significant differences between REO and traditional. BTW, on my traditional listing agreements, I always ask for permission to disclose the existence of offers. It's up to the seller whether or not to give the permission.

I think I'll tackle the REO expired issue in a blog post tomorrow (make that later today). I'm tired, too!

Jan 20, 2011 01:12 AM #47
Rainer
129,436
Andrew Martin
Keller Williams - Danville - San Ramon, CA

I guess what I'm saying is why make the business harder than it already is? You can be ethical and legal and professional and still act like a "normal" person on the phone. If I call and ask questions about the listing, just answer them. Why is that so hard?????? 

If you answer everyone the same, and give truthfull answers I would bet my license and career that it would be appreciated by all, even the banks, and you would close the deal with a good reputation and your fellow agents would WANT to do business with you again, instead of HAVING to do business with you because you have the listing.

Again, this is a huge hot button of mine and I don't mean any disrepect to you as a person at all, it's the image you represented in your post that gets me going.  Just answer our darn questions when we call!!!!!  Maybe the banks don't have specific language in the contract, but I bet they didn't think people would read that as "OMG I better not tell anybody, anything". Agents need to stop thinking they will get "in trouble" for acting "normal" and nice to other agents and buyers.

If I called you and asked if there were any offers, and you asked me why I needed to know, I would SLAM the phone down and NEVER do business with you again.

I always believe in a win-win transaction and will bend over backwards to assure that happens, if you answered my question like that, I couldn't move forward and feel good about the deal. I would say to myself "here we go again" and probably tell my buyer to move on to another house.

I guess we can just agree to disagree. 

 

Jan 20, 2011 01:44 AM #48
Rainmaker
265,502
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Andrew~I agree: Why make the business harder than it already is? You have a hot button and are ready to slam the phone down and write me off as difficult, because I won't do what you say? Sorry, but that does seem disrespectful. Such an attitude is disrespectful of my obligations, making them subordinate to yours.

If you were in my market, you would know that I am an honest agent. You might even think that I am nice. You might not be quite so ready to write me off as someone you HAVE to do business with. The vast majority of agents with whom I have closed REO deals are very grateful for the hand-holding I do throughout the process. And I have many agents who gladly sell my listings, because they do know that I treat them honestly. Of course, if you slammed down the phone during our first conversation, it would be a different scenario entirely. BTW, I'm gentle enough in my dealing with other agents that I rarely get hung up on.

I'm repeating myself again, but please follow the advice I gave in response #9, and you won't have to hang up the phone on your local REO agents. BOTTOM LINE: The question should be, "Would this afternoon (or insert your own timeframe) be too late to bring an offer on this property?"  They can legally and ethically answer that question, and you won't have to agree to disagree with them.

Jan 20, 2011 02:00 AM #49
Rainmaker
589,762
Jim Hale
ACTIONAGENTS.NET - Eugene, OR
On the Move for You! - Eugene - Springfield Oregon Real Estate

I absolutely agree that disclosing other offers requires seller permission.

Only rarely would withholding such knowledge be detrimental to the seller.

Sometimes saying yes would discourage a showing...or an offer.  But it is just as likely to result in a quicker showing and a higher offer. 

For a seller to withhold permission for a listing agent to answer that question truthfully seems detrimental to the seller's interest to me.

However, I'm never surprised when banks (e.g. REO sellers) do dumb things.

 

Jan 20, 2011 04:02 AM #50
Rainmaker
589,762
Jim Hale
ACTIONAGENTS.NET - Eugene, OR
On the Move for You! - Eugene - Springfield Oregon Real Estate

In reality, I rarely ask if there are offers pending. (Though, I am more tempted to do so with REO's than with other listings - just because the profcess is so convoluted.)

I prefer to simply ask if the property is still available.  It may get the same answer, but it's not the same question. It's definitely not soliciting a breach of ethics from the listing agent.

But what I'm really doing by asking about availabiltiy (particularly on a "well-priced" listing) is not fishing for info.

I'm really trying to convey info. I want the listing agent to know another offer may be coming.  That way, s/he is most likely to advise the seller not to jump on a first offer because another might be imminent.

And I don't think I ever sit down to write up an offer without first calling the listing agent to inquire about availability (or anything else that might be pertinent).....and BEING VERY SURE to say an offer is coming.

If I think a house is very well-priced, I will make that call before even showing it - for the very same reason.

 

Jan 20, 2011 04:18 AM #51
Rainmaker
589,762
Jim Hale
ACTIONAGENTS.NET - Eugene, OR
On the Move for You! - Eugene - Springfield Oregon Real Estate

A listing agent who does not have prior seller permission to share the existence of an active offer is at a distinct disadvantage in promoting their client's interest.

If you don't have that permission when some buyer agent calls, you really ought to ask for it immediately.

And if I call you and say I'm about to write an offer, it's in your seller's interest for you to inform me right then that there is competition.

In fact, it's in the seller's interest for you to get on the horn with the first agent and tell that person they have competition, too.

 

 

Giving info on the existence of other offers is far more likely to be true performance of fiduciary duty than is keeping quiet.

 

Jan 20, 2011 04:28 AM #52
Rainmaker
589,762
Jim Hale
ACTIONAGENTS.NET - Eugene, OR
On the Move for You! - Eugene - Springfield Oregon Real Estate

But having a COE standard that specifically prohibits saying you do have other offers when you don't would be a great thing.

That's especially true regarding REO listings....where the boiler plate language contained in lender required Seller Addendums notoriously discloses "multiple offers" when there is no such situation.

The same is true of the boiler plate language being used on lender short sale websites.

 

Maybe some of the fierce comments here spring from Liz's disclosure that she works a lot of REO listings.

Few us us have must trust in the fairness of the banks.

Jan 20, 2011 04:36 AM #53
Rainer
129,436
Andrew Martin
Keller Williams - Danville - San Ramon, CA

Liz,

I'm not questioning you as a person, because I don't even know you and you are probably a wonderful person and agent. It's the concept of interpreting what the banks want you to say or not say that bugs me.

The funny thing is that I probably wouldn't have to slam down the phone anyway, as many of the REO agents in my market don't pick up their phones anyway. LOL

Anyway, thanks for the great discussion and the best solution for me is to go out and get some of my own REO business, and then I can "act" like the other REO agents and make it hard for us "regular people" to do business.

And again, I don't mean in any way to attack you as a person, it's the mere fact that it ever even comes up as a subject that sets me off.

have a great day.

Jan 20, 2011 11:03 AM #54
Rainmaker
265,502
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Wow, Jim (50-53)~You sure were up late!

"Sometimes saying yes would discourage a showing...or an offer.  But it is just as likely to result in a quicker showing and a higher offer," you said. While you might be correct in regard to a traditional listing, the opposite is true with an REO. Most often, and here's where my experience as an REO agent comes in, agents are NOT motivated by the existence of other offers. Rather, they are discouraged, and I believe the overall tone of most of the responses to this blog helps prove that point.  

I have one local agent who starts EVERY conversation with, "Do you have anything going on with so and so address?" Then she says she is "thinking" about showing it. Tuesday, no kidding, she asked me that question about TWO of my hot properties. She is NOT motivated to show properties that have offers. She is just like the majority of agents who inferred in this comment thread that they shy away from showing REOs when offers are on the table.

"I want the listing agent to know another offer may be coming." See, that is exactly why I said that I sometimes ask why the agent is inquiring about other offers.

"In fact, it's in the seller's interest for you to get on the horn with the first agent and tell that person they have competition, too." That is exactly what Highest and Best does. If I started making those calls, however, based solely on the word of an agent who has not yet brought an offer, I would be playing games (see Curt's reply in #17). I don't do the hype thing. Any REO agent who has very many listings at all does not have the time to that, either. We are covered UP in paperwork.

"Giving info on the existence of other offers is far more likely to be true performance of fiduciary duty than is keeping quiet." Again, that would only be true if disclosing an on-going negotiation would bring more offers. In REO World, that is not true! Guess you'd have to walk a mile in my shoes... And I dare say that if any of the REO agents who have chimed in here actually started to keep track, they'd be surprised at how many showings they stop cold when they disclose the existence of offers. That, certainly, is not their fiduciary duty as a listing agent!

I also do not regularly tell an asset manager that other offers "might" be coming. I've been burned too many times, because buyers' agents often try to place a hold on a property by calling the REO agent and making that very statement. Then they don't come through with an offer. It's crying "Wolf," and I'm not falling for it. Asset managers don't either. AMs want to know only about the paper in my hand, because they have also heard the call of the wolf too many times. Saying that I might have more offers coming in would make me look amateur in the eyes of many AMs. I take the chance, though, when I am convinced that the other agent is truly working on an offer.

____________________________________________

Are you listening, everybody? Buyers' agents often say they might be bringing an offer, because they hope to stall the progress of other offers.  Maybe, just maybe, listing and selling agents are both guilty of a bit of game-playing, all in their own clients' best interests.

 

Jan 20, 2011 09:50 PM #55
Rainmaker
265,502
Liz Lockhart
Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO - Cape Girardeau, MO
GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate

Andrew (54)~Whew! I'm glad you think I might be a wonderful person. I'll be watching for you around the blog-o-sphere. I look forward to continuing this same discussion with you if you ever do work REO listings. Thanks for taking the time to post. It really does help me to hear your frustrations. I try to be patient with other agents, but lots of them start out angry and never finally see that my duties are completely different than theirs.

Thanks, again, for your input.

Jan 20, 2011 10:03 PM #56
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