Los Altos Real Estate Blog


How does a seller and listing agent deal with multiple offers?

Are there rules to dealing with multiple offers?

There is no hard and fast rule to handling multiple offers anywhere.  Even within the Silicon Valley market there are variances and while similar to other places around the Bay Area and California, it's not perfect.  There are some common themes and expectations.  The whole thing starts when a home first goes on the market and the listing agent starts getting calls. 


Multiple Offers Begin With The MLS

When a property is placed on the MLS in a competitive market, the listing agent will usually get calls within a few minutes or hours.  Buyers who had previously lost out on similar homes will direct their agents to act quickly on anything similar and so the listing agent will get calls asking a few key details:

  • When can we show the home?
  • Do you have disclosures?
  • When are you taking offers?

Sometimes the buyer's agent will ask them in that order, sometimes they'll just jump to writing offers (this happens in really tight markets).  The seller, usually, has directed their agent to tell buyers to hold off on offers until a certain date.  Buyers DO NOT have to comply with that and the listing agent must present any offer received.  However, buyers should know that jumping the gun can negatively impact their chances of getting the offer accepted.

Agents who play by the rules will show the home and, if the buyer is interested, ask for disclosures.  Then they'll wait patiently until the offer date.


An Honest Assessment of Interest

The listing agent is required to disclose the status of interest without fabricating the details.  For example, the buyers agents will ask two major questions at this point in the process:

  • How many disclosure packages are out?
  • How many offers do you have?

The first question is asked to determine how many other buyers have actually requested and received the disclosures for property.  The listing agent must disclose the exact number of packages sent out.  Giving a number is required to accurately represent the status of interest.  The same goes with the offers.  The listing agent must disclose how many actual offers are received.  I like to give two numbers; the actual number received and the number I've been told are coming.  That makes the situation as clear as possible.


When Offers Arrive

The seller and agent will work on setting an offer date. Let's assume the offer date and time is a Tuesday by 12PM.  That means that all agents must submit their offers by that day and time to be considered.  In reality, there are times when offers come late that are still considered (depending on the terms and price). Once those offers are received, the seller and their agent will review them to determine which offers the best combination of price and terms.

In situations where the number of offers exceeds 10, I generally like to create a spreadsheet to log each offer and the critical details of each.  That way all offers can be compared more easily.  From there, the offer process is similar to any other transaction with suitable counter-offers made as needed.  Eventually an offer is ratified and the sale continues like any other.


If you want more information on how offers are handled, call me and I'll be happy to explain it.  If you need an agent in Silicon Valley, contact me and I'll introduce you to one of my team.

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 Bryan Robertson, CEO | T: 650.799.9951 | Email: bryan@catarra-re.com | Website: http://www.BryanRobertsonHomes.com |CA BRE# 01191946 | Catarra Real Estate, Inc  | 171 Main St #220 | Los Altos, CA 94022



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Comment balloon 2 commentsBryan Robertson • September 29 2013 11:45AM


Bryan, I deal with multiple offers regularly - but rarely 10 or more!  Wow.

I keep a handwritten page of offer details, but I really like the Excel spreadsheet idea.


Posted by Robert Smith, SRES, Search for Homes Brighton-Howell-SE Michigan (Preview Properties, PC - http://www.RealEstateMich.com) over 5 years ago

Multiple offers can be overwhelming, especially when there over 5.  I like your idea of the spreadsheet.  That way your seller can weigh their options a little easier.

Posted by Jane Peters, Los Angeles real estate concierge services (Home Jane Realty) over 5 years ago

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