This is a contentious one amongst real estate agents. Before I get into that thought process, let’s go over the mechanics.
You’ve listed your home, you had a number of good showings and two great offers. Of course, you can only choose one. The other buyer presents a backup offer with a “backup addendum” accompanying the offer. It’s a short agreement, and it basically states that your agent will give them notice if the first buyer terminates. Things will then commence in accordance with the terms of their offer as soon as they receive that notice. If they have a deadline for an inspection, to deposit earnest money or provide a pre-approval letter, the clock won’t start ticking until that notice of the first position offer terminating is provided. Essentially things automatically roll right into the second offer.
Usually, a buyer’s agent is always an advocate for a backup offer because the buyer can terminate the backup offer up until the notice is given, at any time. Basically, there’s no risk. This is exactly why some agents agree that accepting a backup offer is a detriment to a seller. Why not just go back to the market and potentially receive more offers?
When acting as listing agents, we sometimes get used to increasing markets so it’s easy to make this advice. However, (in my view) there are still a few good reasons to consider a backup offer if a buyer wants to present one.
1) As agents, we try, but don’t always take a seller’s emotions into account like we should. I can tell you that listing a home in today’s competitive market is exhausting. We sometimes field dozens (even hundreds) of calls, texts, emails, social media notifications, the list goes on. It also doesn’t matter the day of the week or the time of the day, and we juggle a huge number of showings and showing requests. With all of the craziness, we sometimes forget that the seller oftentimes endures some of the same challenges. Keeping the house clean, ready for showings, juggling kids, dogs, life. In addition, making decisions can be tough. Good agents don’t tell you what your decision should be (sometimes we try to inform sellers of bad ones), they lay out the options, pros and cons in an organized fashion, answer questions and provide advice. The point is, a backup offer can create a calm environment and segue into a new transaction without going through all of the trouble again.
2) There’s an old saying that your first offer is always your best offer. However, in today’s crazy market it is not unusual for buyers to fire off quick offers with even quicker response times before the “bidding war” begins. In this context I’m not suggesting the very first offer is the best offer but rather the first group of offers is usually your best group of offers – if that makes sense. The more time that homes spend on the market, whether they are available or have an accepted contract, the more buyers assume there is room to negotiate. There are exceptions to every rule and that would include the points above. Of late, we have seen home values rise even during the time of which homes are in contract, but that seems to be subsiding. To bring this full circle to the market today, things appear to be leveling off (not dropping) in this new plateau appears to be a baseline for home and land prices, at least for now. This is all the more reason to consider these points, and to seek good real estate advice with these fast moving and ever evolving markets.