For sellers: Three tips for navigating multiple offers

Multiple offers on your home?! A dream for many, to be sure. And, as a result of our low level of inventory, for many Chicagoland sellers, this dream is also becoming a reality. But, without a full understanding of the implications of a bidding war, that dream can quickly become a nightmare. The stakes are high, emotions are hot, and time is short. Knowing your next move is crucial, so I've put together my top three tips for sellers. 

1. Understand what an escalation clause is and how they work.

An escalation clause is an addendum to an offer that says a buyer is willing to pay $X for the property, but if the seller receives another offer that is higher, that the buyer will increase their offer by $Y.

Let me make this is a bit clearer with an example: Say you found the home of your dreams listed for $800,000, and the listing broker has indicated that final and best offers are due. If you and your broker agree an escalation clause makes sense, you would include an addendum that says your offer is for $800,000, but that if the sellers receive a higher offer, that you will offer $1,000 more up to a cap of $815,000. 

An escalation clause may make sense for a buyer who is confident in their original offer, but willing to pay only a little bit more than they originally offered. Because these are highly competitive situations, I always recommend that my buyer's original offers be as strong as possible so as not to depend on the escalation clause to win the deal. Escalation clauses don't make sense in all situations so it's always important to lean on your broker to guide you.

2. Know when it makes sense to disclose or not.

As the seller, you have the power to choose whether or not your broker discloses that you have received multiple offers. And with everything in real estate, there are pros and cons to both answers: if you do disclose, you risk alienating the less assured buyer. There are buyers out there that just don't want anything to do with a bidding war. On the other hand, if you don't disclose, you may be leaving money on the table. Talk to you broker, and try to glean an understanding of you particular buyers and where they stand. 

3. Remember that price isn't everything. 

It's easy to get caught up in the bottom line, but remember that there are many additional aspects of offers to consider: financing terms, contingencies and close date to name just a few. If you are lucky enough to receive a cash offer, keep in mind that cash deals tend to be simpler and faster than financed. 

And lastly a few more thoughts. Remember that there is a threshold for the value of your home, and that is the appraisal. An appraisal is required by the bank financing the buyer's loan to ensure that the property's market value and the buyer's offer match. Buying or selling a home is always emotional, and multiple offers just ups the ante. Feeling confident and educated will help keep emotions in check.