Desperate Buyers

I came across an article in Realtor® Magazine that tickled me. While I personally haven’t had any one of my buyers go to these extremes to land a contract on a home, I was entertained (and shocked!) to know the lengths to which some people will go to get what they want. I have paraphrased the article below and added my few cents at the end on what buyers should ABSOLUTELY do in a seller’s market that is well within the realm of normal and reasonable!


A pair of California buyers (of course!) sweetened their deal by offering the sellers of a home they desperately wanted a free, month-long vacation at their place in Maui. They even tried to write it into their contract. The seller was leery, thinking it a bit creepy, and declined the vacation, but ultimately DID accept the buyer’s contract. “It was endearing, and it helped them win,” said the seller’s agent. In spite of that outcome, it really isn’t a good idea to risk sharing your personal space with someone during a business transaction.



An agent in Brooklyn, NY, represented a chef who was up against an all-cash buyer for an apartment she really wanted. The chef sent cookies to the seller three days in a row and added a note, “You can have this for a whole year if you take my offer.” The seller apparently didn’t have a sweet tooth and didn’t go for it.


A couple in CA, competing with 20+ other buyers, presented a framed watercolor painting of the seller’s house along with their offer. They knew they were competing with cash buyers and that the seller was reluctantly selling her beloved home to move out of the area. The artistic couple wound up getting the house! This strategy was very creative because they knew the emotional connection the seller had with her property.


Another home-buying couple in CA knew the seller was a huge dog lover so they offered a $200 Petco gift card. Even though the sellers took their home off the market, the gesture really hit home with them and they made a big deal about how thoughtful it was.



A broker in New York City had a buyer who called the seller directly and offered to do a “creative” deal where she would offer a lower price and then pay the difference in cash under the table so the estate would save on capital gains taxes. The seller didn’t go for it – thank goodness! You can get into all kinds of legal trouble, including mortgage fraud! Don’t do it!


In a market where inventory is low, I recommend the following best practices for buyers:
– If you aren’t paying cash for a home, get pre-approved from your lender before house hunting.

– Act quickly if you are interested in a home.

– Include a personal letter with your offer explaining why you love the house and why you want to live there

– Make an offer that is close to or over the seller’s asking price and don’t weigh it down with contingencies.

– Be reasonable about asking the seller to make repairs from the inspection report