Are you buying a house? From signing bonuses to charitable donations, agents reveal the best tricks to make a deal more enjoyable for sellers.



Whitney and Noah Barnes were part of a group of home buyers who were battling to buy a site in the Portland area just as inventory began to rise. bottom in May. They’ve struck eight times already. Then their offer was accepted, not at the highest price.

What was their secret? Their real estate agent, Sofia Rosenberg from Hasson, advised them to be patient even after six months of failure, because the right home was waiting for them.

“I didn’t believe it at all until it happened,” said Whitney Barnes of the two-story house the couple bought in Milwaukee.

There was more at work behind the scenes than just desire. Rosenberg made it clear to the seller’s agent that the Barnes were serious; they had loan approval and did not flirt with other property.

“It’s important that the seller knows the buyer won’t back down,” Rosenberg said.

Real estate agents use other incentives, such as valuation defenses, to differentiate their clients in Portland’s highly competitive housing market.

In May, the number of homes for sale was the lowest in the 30-year history of the Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS).

The long line of existing homeowners looking to upgrade to a larger home has been joined by people from out of state who have moved since they can work remotely, and the wave millennials, the largest generation and other newcomers are willing to buy, not rent.

Impatient shoppers, motivated 3% The 30-year fixed-mortgage interest rate pushed the average selling price in the Portland metro area to $ 515,000 last month, up $ 15,000 from April, according to the RMLS report.

Trade wars and cash deals make frustrated buyers think the home is out of reach. But they may not have tried the best real estate agent tricks to sweeten the deal for sellers, from signing bonus to charitable donation.

In Portland’s fast-paced, highly competitive market, Rosenberg advises all of his clients to make a strong first offer; if necessary, higher than the selling price.

She sometimes suggests adding an escalation clause, which she calls “eBay home purchases.” The first offer is gradually increased to surpass the others up to a fixed amount. “This is one way to ensure that the buyer does not overpay, but can outperform other offers,” she said.

Rosenberg helps her clients stay ahead of a potential bidding war by offering a signing bonus: a buyer’s offer is higher if it is accepted quickly, often before a busy weekend.

Another gift for the seller: The buyer promises that if the property’s assessed value is less than the asking price and the lender only lends up to 80% of the assessed value, the buyer will find money to make up the difference. in addition to the down payment.

Other ways Rosenberg’s clients climb to the top:

  • The deposit, the deposit made together with the offer, ranges from 2% to 3% of the above standard sale price. The money is transferred to the seller earlier than after the approval of the test repair, and not pending the completion of the sale.
  • Verification takes place five days after the offer, rather than 10 days, which speeds up the contingency phase where the buyer can opt out without penalty.
  • Repairs or loans are limited. “No repairs worth less than $ 5,000 will cover the buyer in the event of something major such as a sewer, roof or foundation,” Rosenberg said, but does not burden the seller with minor repairs.
  • The seller can rent the house back if he needs additional time to move. “A lot of sellers are not sure where they will go after they sell their home, so rent returns give some flexibility,” Rosenberg said. “Lenders usually allow 60 days rent back and in most cases this is offered to the seller for free.”
  • Some suggestions include that the seller can pick up appliances as they move, which is a valuable bonus due to the scarcity and increased cost of the stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer.
  • Instead of months, agents can speed up the process and close the deal in 21-30 days; faster with cash transactions.

Love letters, in which the buyer writes a personal note to the seller with agents acting as intermediaries, were also used to highlight the buyer’s high qualifications as a perfect match for the property.

To curry favor, a potential buyer promises to maintain a secluded garden or maintain the design of an architectural home.

Others write hoping to evoke emotion with their story of personal problems and include photographs, often of the family or the mother-to-be.

These messages, however, are considered potential sources. Violations of the Fair Housing Act and Oregon became the first state to make it illegal to take on a seller’s agent on January 1, 2022.

According to the law, a seller cannot “select a buyer based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital or marital status.” House Bill 2550

“Each story has been sadder than the last,” said Jen Williams, who and her husband Josh received 10 love letters along with proposals for their two-story home in Clackamas. “It’s heartbreaking to say no to people.”

They said that their agent, Elyse Ball i Realty teams and RE / MAX stock groups helped them sort out the offers when they were excited and overwhelmed.

They looked at the table prepared for them by Ball, which indicated the price and terms of placement. They compared the additional incentives with what could be helped.

They had to stay in the house until a certain time, so the proposal for an immediate closure, forcing a quick move, was not considered.

In the end, they didn’t choose the highest bidder, but what they said was best for their family.

The successful buyer offered owners no commission for staying after the close of the deal, a five-day checkout period, and a promise not to ask for repairs. The purchaser also had the option of depositing $ 25,000 in excess of the appraised value in the event of an undervaluation, which did not happen.

“Buyers showed us they were financially capable and committed,” said Josh Williams.

Before they could buy a home in May, the Barneses have toured 80 homes since November 2020. They made nine offers, one at a time. Some properties were selling for between $ 50,000 and $ 80,000 in excess of the asking price or were in cash transactions, “and we couldn’t do that,” said Whitney Barnes.

She said that every rejection was stressful and emotionally draining because imagining oneself living in a home is part of the process. “Every time we got a call:“ It’s not you, ”there were tears,” she said.

The Barnes wrote a letter explaining what they liked about the house and backyard and that they were “100% ready” to buy.

“We made every letter short, sweet and sincere,” said Whitney Barnes. “The owners needed to know that we would not change our minds and the loan would not fail.”

After three separate bids were not accepted, they worked with real estate agent Rosenberg to strategize to enhance their offering by adding “sweeteners” to get the seller’s attention and show how the deal can go smoothly.

They promised that the inspection would be completed quickly, that they would pay half of their deposit early, and would not require less than $ 5,000 repairs.

“Our biggest asset was the real estate agent we trusted,” Barnes said. “We knew Sophia would point to any red flags, not simple solutions. She wanted us to buy a home that would fit and be a smart investment. “

The couple, in their 30s and living in a 500-square-foot condo in southeast Portland, said some home buyers are declining to check, but this is not negotiable with them.

“This is our first home, and we needed to know what we were getting ourselves into,” Barnes said.

They heard that the seller chose their offer because their highest bidders did not see the house in person. “The owners were confident that we would see it through to the end,” Barnes said.

Another added bonus: Rosenberg donates a portion of his commission, $ 1,500 to $ 2,000, to a nonprofit of the seller’s choice. In this case, the donation went to Homeless Family Solutions in Portland

“It definitely helps us stand out,” Rosenberg said.

After six months of outbidding the homes, Whitney and Noah Barnes move into their larger than expected home on a 10,000 square foot plot.

They install a galvanized steel aboveground tank basin and add landscaping designed to be certified as healthy wildlife habitat from the Columbia Land Trust and the Portland Audubon Society.

“They were squeezed out,” Rosenberg said, “but in the end they got the best home of all.”

– Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072 | @janeteastman

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