Prices are rising rapidly in Metro Atlanta and we do not have enough homes to sell.  Buyers are frustrated by the lack of inventory and how quickly the good homes get snatched up. Let’s say we have put your home on the market (and I’d love to do that).  Say you’ve priced your home to sell.  You’ve painted the walls a pleasing neutral color and staged perfectly.  You’ve made it readily available for agents to show.  In this fast moving market, we should have an offer within days or a few weeks.  If there’s no offer within a few weeks, they we must re-evaluate why – a subject for another article.  But presuming we’ve gotten it right, offers should be coming in!  How do we respond?

If we get an offer immediately upon listing, we may have a very hot property (one indicator is that we also have a lot of showings right away).  This is happening a LOT currently.  If we’re getting multiple offers, lucky you!  We could have a bidding war.  One way to handle this is to say that we’ll be responding to all offers at some point in the near future.  It’s best to give a date certain.  Say we list on a Wednesday, and it’s clear we’re going to get more than one offer.  I can say “seller will respond to all offers by Tuesday at 5pm”.  This allows the weekend for showings to more potential buyers and allows the open house to pull in more potential buyers (if we’re holding open houses at your home).   If an offer comes in the first day and you respond to it, you don’t give other potential buyers the chance to bid up the price.  That said, if the first offer is excellent and solid and one you just can’t refuse, at times the best thing to do is to move quickly on that first offer and enter a solid contract.

But if we are soliciting multiple bids and get them, once they are all in we review them carefully, comparing all terms.  The “best” offer may not be the “highest” price.  You’re looking for a buyer who will not ask for excessive concessions during the inspection period and who will surely make it to the closing table with no financial difficulty.  Thus, a cash offer (with proof of funds, of course) is typically a better offer than an offer contingent on a loan.  An “as is” offer (indicating that the buyer will not be asking for repairs) is better than one with the right to ask for inspection repairs.  An offer contingent on the sale of another home is not as desirable as one that is not.  We take all of these things into account in deciding which offer is the “best” and the one you want to respond to.  Unless one bid is so strong you want to nail the contract down and sign it as it is written, you will have the opportunity in the counteroffer to counter any terms you do not like, including price.

Now, in contrast to the multiple bid situation, if yours is a home that is not receiving immediate multiple bids, then I typically recommend responding VERY quickly to a bid on the property.  Strike while the iron is hot!  Buyers who must wait a day or two for the seller to respond sometimes lose their enthusiasm and start having second thoughts.  It’s smart to respond quickly to a good offer to keep the momentum going if your home has been on the market for a while or we don’t believe that a bidding war is possible or probable.

We’ve been concentrating on good offers and how to respond – but it’s important to note that you should respond to every offer that comes in, good or bad.  Some inexperienced buyers and even some seasoned veteran buyers just feel that they have to “try” a lowball offer.  Don’t be offended.  Answer it anyway, unless it is just truly ridiculously outside the realm of possibility.  I’ve seen unreasonable buyers get very reasonable in the end and jump to a high number that made my seller very happy.  And everyone’s idea of what IS a “low” offer differs.  Even if you respond at list price, respond.  Play ball.  Having an offer , even if you only have one, is a wonderful thing.  If it’s not going to work out, you should know within very short order and it so it’s not a big time waster.  If fact, if the initial offer is too low, we can respond verbally until the buyer gets to a more reasonable number.

Our Atlanta market has been sizzling hot this summer; well priced properties sell quickly and with multiple bids.  If you price right and stage well, your home will be one of the “hot” properties.  How to respond to offers, single or multiple, is an art as well as a science; with a little forethought and help from a licensed Realtor, you will be SOLD in no time.  Call me today if you or someone you know has been thinking about selling!

Mary Anne Walser is a licensed attorney and full-time REALTOR, serving buyers and sellers in all areas of Metro Atlanta. Her knowledge of residential real estate and her legal expertise allow her to offer great value to her clients. Mary Anne serves on the Committee that drafts and reviews the contracts utilized by all REALTORS in the State of Georgia. In addition, she is a member of the Atlanta Board of Realtors, the Georgia Association of Realtors, the State Bar of Georgia and the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers. Contact Mary Anne at 404-277-3527, or via email: