Home Buying in Atlanta>Question Details

Gus Cast, Home Buyer in 30002

Need opinions on placing multiple offers in the atlanta area and working with multiple agents.

Asked by Gus Cast, 30002 Thu Feb 19, 2009

I'm been ready to buy since December. I've seen both many great and terrible homes within my price range and matching my criteria but I am not succeeding to buy a home in this buyer's market because of the following:
-there are just too many homes available for one single agent to show me; I'm losing sleep just by taking the time to go through the listings
-sellers take their sweet time to respond; sure the owners want to wait for the best offer but can I not at least expect them to make a counteroffer or reject mine altogether
I am still new to this process but I feel that the etiquette of working with only one agent at a time and submitting only one offer at a time does not fit today's market conditions. So I'm asking for feedback (pro and con) on multiple offers and multiple agents.

Help the community by answering this question:


I thank all of you for responding.

I started my quest by attending my county’s homebuying seminars in November. Before I started looking I waited for 2 preapproval letters (I now have 5 that includes VA, FHA, 203k). Since December I have drove by 227 homes on my own; of these I had submitted offers on 5; of these offers only one resulted in a counteroffer within the deadline. Another came back with a “verbal” counteroffer after the deadline but I had already moved on. When I accepted the timely counteroffer, I paid to turn on the utilities, I paid and was present for the inspection, I paid for the mortgage application and appraisal. The lender came back with a list of required repairs. So I called contractors and started to arrange for their inspections and estimates but I had to walk away because the seller would not grant permission for these follow up inspections before the closing date. Incidentally, I would have made an offer on a 6th house; it obviously needed repairs, and my agent could not at all estimate the repair costs (I was not disappointed; my agent is not a contractor). I paid for an inspection because I needed to factor the repairs into my offer; but the inspection unearthed too costly of repairs and I did not submit the offer, thankfully so.

I am only looking for one home to live in as a 1st time buyer. Atlanta is a big city with many, many homes on market. Just this morning my most narrow of criteria search resulted in 84 homes; if I were to reduce the criteria ever so slightly the list would increase beyond a thousand. Don’t believe me - pick any broker’s website (don’t use Trulia’s, its not updated for “under contract/sold” often enough), choose single home, $50-100k, 2bed/2bath, basement, master on main, gar, within 10 miles of 30002 center. And many of these are foreclosures, I estimate 8 of every 10, which means that reos are nearly unavoidable. Sadly, many of these foreclosures are vandalized and this is prolonging my search.

Before I had no system, but forced my way into one through trial and error and this is how I now ride my bus. I pour over the online listings. When I like the picture and data, I enter its address on city-data.com to compare its value. Sometimes I will see what the online county records show. Then I google the directions for a selected bunch of homes and print them out (I have no gps and I’m avoiding the digital tvs and all major costs to protect my credit rating). I work nights, yet I force myself to get out and drive to these homes during daylight hours. In the beginning I rarely drove less than 40miles on any one outing. Nowadays its easier because I can discount what I’ve seen.

My agent has to handle several clients simultaneously or seek out work with banks/customers for special projects (which agent does not?) I never thought of expecting my agent to be on call for myself. I develop my own lists, evaluate the homes myself, visit the homes myself and even drive around their neighborhoods. I do all of this before I involve my agent. It’s a lot of extra work and I wish that I my last offer was given a response (its past my deadline but my agent tells me to give the bank more (unlimited?) time since I really like the place. I wish I could end my search tomorrow and be able to sleep after work and relax on the weekends. I wish I knew a network of investors who could throw me at least one gem before they gobble the rest. I wish that my agent could call up other agents and ask if they had already visited a property and then get some type of scouting report of vandalism and perhaps preclude our own visit. I wish that banks/sellers were not so immoveable in responding to offers. I wish that I had the hard cash to spark attention from the immoveables. I wish.., but there are many homes out there and working with one agent and waiting for one counteroffer demands more patience and more work than I knew. In fact I need to be even more thankful and considerate that I am a working buyer and not an evicted family.

I’ve used up valuable daylight time (and sleep) over this answer, but I especially want to thank Andrea and Julie, David, and Lee for recognizing my question in the context of today’s market without jumping to conclusions…you’ve displayed good listening and respect. Although I’d still like to hear from a lender – do they have their own blogs?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
Gus -

No decent agent is going to work with you without an Exclusive Buyer's Agency Agreement. Would you work for free? Would you work knowing that there is a 33% chance you'll get paid? Probably not.

Find an agent that you get along with. Give them your criteria. Pick an area and stick to it. It's really not that hard. You're making it hard by not having the right resources.

Let me know if you'd like to meet with me.

Julie Brittain

1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
I attached a link to Brian Brady's blogroll - he's out of San Diego, and he's a big mortgage player.

His blogroll is loaded with Mortgage Bloggers, so investigate the list and get into some conversations.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Feb 20, 2009

Keep your night job and go to real estate license school.

You are smart, hardworking and thorough.


Want to meet for coffee one morning, or a late lunch?
Web Reference: http://intowninsider.com/
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
Gus, your contract should have included a clause that the seller will agree to a certain amount of repairs if mandated by the lender. You can negotiate that amount. Sorry this is such hard work. If you can, narrow down your criteria. I am going to be purchasing another investment property this fall and I have narrowed down the neighborhoods that I will be focusing on to 5. Sometimes, the amount of time/money that we spend looking for that great deal costs us more than the amount we may save in the end. Good luck and don't let it drive you crazy!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
Get off the bus . . . Gus!

It's seems that your issues are internal. Without realistic expectations set by yourself and current agent, you will continue wander in the abyss. A great place to "start over" is with some of those “great" homes that your agent has already shown you that are (by your own admission) within your criteria and price. Use the process of elimination and make a decision! . . . and it will all be over.

Additional, I agree with Julie . . . as true professionals I can't image any of us working without an Exclusive Agreement in place.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
Hi Gus
If you are serious about buying a home, stick with one good Realtor. You need to form a good, solid relationship with 1 agent that will work in your best interest only. By working with several agents, they are not going to represent you, they will be working in the sellers best interest, you want someone to be working for you to find you the best home, at the best price , in the best area possible. By skipping around to different agents, you never form that bond with the agent. When working solely with an agent, they get to know your likes and dislikes, your needs and wants and can locate the best match for you and not waste your vaulable time running from home to home. I will only work with people that are committed to me exclusively. I have a handle on what they are looking for and will only take them to homes that meet their criteria and tastes. There are hundreds of listings going on the market daily, what a waste of your time going out to look at them...your exclusive agent should be able to weed out the ones that are a good fit for you.
Web Reference: http://www.LisaAbrams.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
Gus -

You're not properly focused and that's why you're scattered. If you had an agent to properly orient you this would be under control. We do a thorough buyer brief and make extensive use of the MLS to zero clients in. We also do a significant amount of screening on line and using our appraisal and realtor resources, when we go to look at a home it's cleared several hurdles including price, external adverse influences, obvious conditions....we essentially look at it from an appraisal point of view.

As far as owners not accepting offers, if needed we work with other agents and provide them with writing support for our offer and show them in balck and white what the facts are. We also remind them their home has to appraise and since we're also appraisers we can demonstrate potential future problems to them. If that doesn't work, then we move on. We have writen multiple offers but I prefer to keep my clients focused on one at a time - if we write an offer it's because of genuine interest.

We're not flying to Mars and back, if you work with one quality and experienced agent you should be fine. As for me, I will not work with a client without exclusivity - this is my career and I know the value I bring.

Hope this helps -

Hank Miller, SRA, ABR
Associate Broker & Certified Appraiser
Prudential GA Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009

I read that the "age of consumerism is dead," last week.

Right now, at this moment all business models are being questioned, aren't they?

Regardless, you probably haven't found the right agency relationship yet.

Regardless, if you seek agency but do not seek an exclusive relationship with one single agent, then you should identify some cool non-exclusive agents.

You seem like a prudent, thoughtful guy, so yes, you can as you say "at least expect them to make a counteroffer or reject mine altogether." But you don't always get that, especially when you work with agents that may not have a clue.

Many, truly, are not that bright.

The numbers for any given submarket do not require too much analysis in order to find good, hard price points, week to week. You are either fair and you seek a win/win or else you are struggling daily to find the perfect house, and the perfect deal scenario.

"Today's market conditions" are only constrained by your mindset, and your network.

Etiquette died when the age of consumerism died, so look out for #1.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
Gus, one of the purposes of a buyers agent is to have someone on your side to help you negotiate the deal as best you can. Price terms, repairs, condition issues, getting as much disclosed about the home etc., If you have one agent that you have hired and is working for you, that agent isn't as worried about you buying the first house they show you and getting you under contract because the agent knows that they have your business. The agent will want you to the the BEST deal, not the ONLY deal that may be available to that agent. If you hire separate agents and later realized that you want out of a deal, which example of an agent do you think will work the hardest to get you safely and legally out of the deal by finding a loophole - the agent-per-offer situation or the agent that will get you out quickly and on to the next deal? Also, you need to ask the agents about who they represent..the seller of the homes they show you (in that case, it is their DUTY to get the best deal for the seller) or you! As stated below, watch that multiple offer situation or you may find yourself under contract with 10 different sellers who will not like the idea of wasting their time and their houses market time waiting for a signed release from you (if one of the 14 agents you worked actually put in a contingency that would get you out quickly). Real estate isn't Walmart. Better make sure that every agent understands what type of return policy you want for your escrow deposit. Mulitple offers are possible, just make sure your agent knows the whole picture of what you are doing so they can write the best and safest terms for you. True, there are a lot of homes but if you hire an agent, they can run numbers for you to help you narrow down your search. Try hiring a team of agents that work together. They will be able to meet regularly to brainstorm and compare strategy and contract content. Good luck :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
We have worked with clients who want to submit more than one offer at a time. If the contract is worded properly, and you disclose that you are making offers on multiple properties at the same time, you will not be obligated to purchase more than one house. We have found this strategy helpful in this market because so many homes are corporate or bank owned that the response time to offers can be very slow.

You need to be very careful when you make multiple offers that the contracts are worded properly and you don't obligate yourself to more homes than you can afford to purchase, so I would caution you against using more than one agent in this situation. You need your agent to represent you fully and be aware of all the offers you have outstanding at one time.

Good luck to you.
Andrea Hanley
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
Are you looking for a home to live in or investment property? Are you looking to low ball the price of the homes you are making an offer on? As long as you do not have an exclusive buyers agreement, you can have as many agents who want to work that way. As for the number of offers, well that is and can be a juggling act. You have to be careful that you do not get caught in the acceptance of more than one offer. I would use a "letter of intent (LOI)" on multiple offers when looking for that "deal". The way I would work with you would be to let my fingers do the walking by giving you a list of properties to "drive by", narrow the list to "look ats" and then go from there. But, I would only do that if you had an exclusive buyers agreement with me. There is a lot of activity out there, and the "old pros" will still work where there is a win-win environment.
Dave Caplin
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
Gus, it's no wonder you're losing sleep. The way to start is to figure out the area you want to live in. Narrow it down. Pick the criteria that's important to you. In the offer there is a deadline where the seller needs to respond by or the offer expires. Most sellers respond by the deadline unless you are dealing with a short sale or a foreclosure. They typically ignore deadlines. Pick one agent and don't waste the time and money of multiple agents. Agents are self employed contractors. If multiple agents are working with you, they are losing out on time with a serious buyer where they can get paid for their time and effort. Only one agent will end up getting paid. Interview several agents and pick one and decide what you are looking for in a home. Your agent can send you listings that specifically match the criteria you are looking for. That will help to narrow down what you are looking at. Good luck!
Web Reference: http://www.JenBowman.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Feb 19, 2009
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