As exciting as it is, there’s no such thing as a stress-free offer night.
If you (or someone you know) have experienced the stomach-turning, anticipatory, back-and-forth process of placing an offer on offer night, then you can only imagine what the COVID-19 pandemic has added to the mix.
With social distancing and work from home measures, the market has seen an uptick in demand for houses with patios and/or backyards. Understandably, more and more Canadians are gravitating towards larger living spaces that cater to their newly realized needs. A recent survey conducted by Leger states that about one third of Canadians are interested in moving to suburban areas, which means demand for houses is high.
Offer nights, specifically for houses, have recently become increasingly competitive due to the higher demand. Although the home-buying process does not always involve an offer night, this blog post aims to answer any questions regarding how to navigate an offer night in today’s world, what to prioritize and what to avoid.
Let’s get right into it...
Iron out your finances
If there’s one base-level factor to prioritize in order to solidify your offer, it’s your finances. Multiple things come into play to determine which offers stand out and which don’t but having your mortgage pre-approved, or even pre-qualified, is a must. This is imperative now more than ever, since the economy is uncertain due to COVID-19.
At the very beginning of your home search, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the new mortgage rules in order to get a better understanding of your financial position as a home-buyer. Once you have an idea of where you stand with securing a mortgage, you will be able to narrow down the price range and criteria of the home you’re looking for.
Throughout your home search, it’s key to keep an open line of communication with your mortgage broker or agent; they can give you insightful information regarding the amount you can qualify for. Once you’re certain about buying a home, take the final step of sending your paperwork to your mortgage agent or bank. As soon as you are officially pre-approved or pre-qualified, you’re good to go on the finances front and it’s time to focus on the next steps of fine tuning your offer.
Let your offer reflect your level of interest in the property
As a home-buyer on the hunt, make sure you have a list of things you’re looking for in a home. Some things on that list are bound to be requirements, and others should be things that you’re willing to sacrifice or compromise on. When you find a home you’re ready to place an offer on, it’s important to be honest with yourself about how badly you want it and how much of a fit it is for you.
If the home checks off all your top requirements and most of your secondary wants, then you should go in with a solid number. Submitting a lowball offer sends the message that you’re not adamantly interested in securing the home. Ultimately, if you think you’ve found a home that you might remember as “the one that got away” then go in at your maximum. Although it’s not the only factor to consider, the price you go in at will likely determine the success of your offer (even more so during the pandemic).
While your price will definitely speak for your interest in the property, offer nights are competitive and you might go in at the same price as another prospective buyer. That considered, you should cover your bases by providing as many supporting documents as possible, particularly if you’re extremely interested in securing the home.
Selling a home is never an easy decision to make - homes can be sentimental and attached to memories, so it’s important to be empathetic towards the seller. Many sellers place importance on who the home is going to and what will happen to it in the future. It’s always good to get personal with the seller and write a letter stating why you’re interested in buying their home and how you plan on taking care of it. When writing a personal letter, always remember that it’s important to be honest, open and genuine; you don’t want to be overbearing.
Be ready for COVID-19 disruptions
During this time, it’s important to remember that things are difficult and uncertain for pretty much everyone. Although offer nights are nerve-racking for the buyer, they can also be stressful for the seller especially during a pandemic. Different sellers have different preferences in terms of safety measures when it comes to viewings, inspections, and any procedures that involve somebody entering their home. When viewing a property, you will probably be required to sign a COVID-19 disclosure form and provide your contact information. Some sellers are only allowing virtual viewings or accepting conditional offers with an in-person viewing as a condition.
The bottom line here is to keep your expectations at bay and to check your emotions at the door. If you don’t get the chance to view the property in-person, get the property inspected, or place an offer in time, it’s important to stay calm, focused and make compromises. If it doesn’t work out at all, then it’s on to the next!
Don’t halt your home search
Placing an offer does not mean that you’re guaranteed to win, even if your offer is solid. In an effort to avoid getting disappointed, keep your home search going even if you think you’ve found your perfect home and you’re submitting an offer. That being said, do not submit two offers at the same time - if both get accepted you are legally bound to buy them both!
When it comes to offer nights, some rejections can be harder to swallow especially if the home ticks all your boxes. Do your best to submit a strong offer but, at the same time, keep your eyes peeled for what else is on the market so that you’re not hanging dry if your offer gets rejected.
Choose the right team
Last but most definitely not least, make sure you’re working with the right real estate agent and team. While you will be making a lot of the decisions yourself, your agent will be navigating communication with the seller’s agent on offer night. They will also be the person guiding and advising you through the entire process, so it’s safe to say that the agent/team you work with can make or break it for you.
Here are some things to look for in an agent/team and some red flags to keep an eye out for…
The right agent/team will display:
- Informed knowledge of the market, especially of neighbourhoods you’re looking in
- Honesty and genuine concern for having your best interest at heart
- Quick responses and an open line of communication
- Pressure you to make decisions under any circumstances
- Over-hype a property just to get you to place an offer faster
- Be unreliable with showing up or answering your calls/emails