A New Perspective: A Definite Maybe | Real Estate Insights

Chess moves and parsing ambiguity

The personal stories of one Realtor’s battles and triumphs in the highly-competitive Bay Area Real Estate Market, seeking to illuminate and humanize the very real ups-and-downs of homeownership.

“We’re a definite maybe,” the young Agent replied to my inquiry about whether or not her client would be writing on our latest listing.

Uhhh . . . is that akin to “We’re a sure possibility?”

Or . . .”We’re an emphatic perhaps?

Or just a politer version of “Who the hell knows?”

For the record, I’ll take the conflicted “maybe” over stone-cold silence any day, (Even uncertain communication beats none at all.) In the world of residential real estate, it’s common for listing Agents to send out a buyer inquiry a few days before offers are due so that we have a better sense of the actual level of interest on a given property. However, just because we ask, doesn’t mean others will answer. Granted, Buyers’ Agents don’t always know until the last minute if their clients are committed enough to enter the game, and therein lies the confusion. (Clear as mud?)

Moreover, as disclosures requests are as easy to obtain as a click of a mouse, the number of disclosure packets delivered has very little correlation to the actual number of offers that are likely to present come the offer date. So while packet requests are certainly potential pawns on the board, they’re only one small piece of the game. What’s far more telling is how many Agents actually engaged with the disclosures and who read them through from beginning to end. Who asked questions? Who did their homework? And who picked up the phone to connect?

It’s important to remember that the last 24 hours before offers are due is essentially a game of chess with parties doing their best to outmaneuver one another in the hopes of emerging victorious at the end of the day. AND much like a chess match, it helps to see the whole board, to anticipate what lies ahead, and to come up with the better move.


Back in the day

Back in the day – before the world of Docusign and COVID – Agents presented offers in person. To do so, you set a firm appointment with the Listing Agent and everyone knew exactly how many offers were expected. Consequently, it was incredibly rare to have unexpected offers suddenly emerge or land in your inbox without warning (and a surefire way of making sure your Buyer did NOT get the house).

Instead, Agents showed up at the appointed time, respectfully presented to both the Listing Agent and the Sellers, waxed on poetically about their “darling,” well-qualified,” and “fantastic,” Buyers, and then stayed close so that we could quickly respond to counters, or rewrite the first page if need be. (Sometimes, we paced the halls.) The concept of a “secret agent” simply didn’t exist (or if it did, it was at one’s own peril).

In today’s world

Today, that’s all changed. As the Internet has made it incredibly easy to sign and send legally-binding contracts without EVER getting in front of the Sellers or even, their Agents, we’ve lost the personal touch (and that’s both good and bad.) More and more, Sarah and I are confronted with offers we had no idea are headed our way from Agents we’ve never met, and didn’t know existed. (Is that really how you want to roll?)

While we make it a practice to send out multiple requests with instructions for writing, like garden-party RSVPs, too few Agents actually reply, preferring to send their “covert” offers via the Internet at precisely the appointed hour with nary a word . . . and here’s where I believe some inexperienced colleagues are making a calculated mistake.

On the one hand, I’m guessing these Realtors® are playing poker, not chess, and hoping that the other parties will write for less if they believe fewer offers are showing up (not an unreasonable strategy). However, that assumption hasn’t necessarily been my experience in the past two decades that I’ve been selling homes.

While demand is no doubt important, irrespective of the number of offers, the market innately understands “value” and will only absorb so much, at which point, it balks and refuses to go any further. (Buyers – not Sellers – set value, whether the coveted item is a Mickey Mantle trading card, The Hope Diamond, or a house.) In essence, whether there are 10 offers or three, once everything shakes out, the end result tends to be nearly identical. (BTW, if your house isn’t selling, that’s a clear message that its positioned too high.)

An agent’s best move

But for those of you who insist on being “secret agents,” understand that the message you send is that you’re likely to be uncommunicative in the deal as well. And since a Realtor’s® job boils down to getting the transaction through escrow with as little fanfare as possible, Agents tend to work with other Agents they trust and can count on. In other words, make yourself known!


How can we help you?

Sarah, Jill, Kate, and I wish you a wonderful holiday weekend.

Julie Gardner & Sarah Abel | Compass Realty

Not just Realtors, but consultants in all things house and home, we’re here to educate, explore, examine and refer . . . In short, you may count on us to take care of your home as if it were our own and anyone who knows us, knows we take pretty darn good care of our homes.

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