A Different Experience?

Date Published 06 December 2021

I'd like to share an interesting experience that we had recently when selling a house in Offwell. As has often been the case this past year or so, we were met with very strong competition for a new and appealing property and so, went about our usual way of handling matters: as efficiently and fairly as possible. What we didn't yet know, was that the journey we would go on with this particular sale would lead us to realise an even more appealing way of dealing with things, that would improve the experiences of everyone involved.

As soon as we launched the property details online, the phone began to ring; virtually every other call was about this particular property. We began viewings almost immediately and each day we carried out a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 8 viewings. We stopped viewings on the Saturday, after just under two weeks of marketing, for the sake of our vendor as well as ourselves (I had been contemplating camping out in the garden!). During this brief period, we had shown 45 potential buyers around the property.

The next challenge was managing the sheer volume of serious interest – after 45 viewings, we had received 14 offers. So, what next? Throughout this crazy year, we (like many other estate agents) have been conducting a 'Best and Final Offers' process as, generally, it has seemed to be the most fair way of dealing with multiple offers, whilst avoiding the infamous 'bidding war' scenario. However, on explaining this to all interested parties, we were met with disappointment and concern followed by the surprisingly unanimous responses of: 'We hate best and finals!'.

Naturally, this reaction was something that I felt required some serious thought. So, I sat down to consider the options and came up with an idea: what if we allowed full disclosure of offers throughout the process? It would place everyone on an level playing field and promote clear and transparent communication. Having discussed the idea with our seller for approval, we set aside a day and began the process of contacting all the buyers with a guide as to how it would work.

With all parties on board, I spent the allocated day making calls to each buyer, advising them of the current highest bid and giving the opportunity to increase their offer. The process took most of the day but, by 5pm, we had four finalists who all decided to stick at the same figure. All were in a strong position to proceed which was a great outcome but also then left our seller with a difficult decision to make. A little while later, the sale was agreed.

As always in these situations, there were many disappointed people but the noticeable difference was in the feedback that followed. We found that prospective buyers felt much better about the process than they would have done if we had requested best and final offers. Those who had experienced this previously explained that they felt as though they were going in 'blind' with offers and were left feeling unsure and anxious as to whether or not they had made the right call. Doing things differently meant that, despite not securing the property, they were given the choice and were able to make informed decisions throughout which resulted in a smoother and less stressful experience.

I was delighted with one particular email that I received the day after the bidding – we have kindly been given permission to share what was said:

'I'd also like to place on record that, not only did you serve your client's best interests extremely well, but also those of us who were on the other side of the net as potential buyers. The telephone auction process you ran gave everyone the best chance of expressing our own wishes and to ask questions as the bidding progressed. I wish more Estate Agents would use this alternative to the ‘Best and Final Offer' system. Your professionalism and empathy for all the parties involved are much appreciated.'

Something I have learned over the years and, this experience has served as a welcome reminder for me, is the importance of flexibility when required as well as the openness to think outside the box from time to time. The business of selling property is rarely quick or easy these days and often fraught with difficulties. It is an odd system, with no one person (or organisation) in control and that can be the hardest part; lack of control or certainty. Buying and selling is seldom stress-free but what we can control, as Estate Agents, is how we help to put things into perspective and support our clients throughout. There is a solution to every problem, we just have to work together and remind ourselves that it is a shared goal that we work towards.

Thank you for reading – and for all your buying and selling needs, you know where to find us!