Listing Case Study: Bidding War! Market Turn Around? Or Good Agent?

SOLD! 14 Days, 3 Written Offers, Above List! A Case Study.

What is going on here?
A bidding war in the dead of Winter? (slight exaggeration, it actually closed in Dec, but was under contract in mid Nov). Is it possible in this market to have had 3 written bona fide offers that were bid above list price,

even after those confusing seller concessions? Is this the tipping point and the start of a major market recover? Or was this an isolated incident involving a great agent and his professional stager?

In this blog I will expose exactly how this was done. None of the regurgitated “How to sell your home” articles that Realtors get added to their website as part of their $299/yr internet website package.

Some of you will take this information and try to sell your home yourself (which is a pretty hilarious blog in and of itself), and others will use it to kick their Realtor into shape. Not a problem, but the smart ones will just call me (or email). Oh and I guess some Realtors might read this too and use these techniques. I say, no need to compete, just join me, I have to have more up my sleeve than just this, right?).

A Listing Case Study: (Do not try this at home, or expect it from your current Realtor)

Property: Fairfax Condo


  1. The place was a wreck.
    (Sorry C&C, I love you all but it needed work, and I think you’d agree). For example they got a $3,000 carpet allowance when they bought the place… but they didn’t change the carpet. I have to ask permission before I can link to the entire album, but here are a couple BEFORE PHOTOS:
  2. Competition! There were 4 other units in the community for sale, some for 100 days. One of the units had the exact same floorplan!
  3. Pricing. Picking a price was very tough. There was a ton of data that was all over the place. Believe it or not, I tend to not come to a price until AFTER I’m hired. Why? I don’t do the typical interview of several listing agents, all of which come in with a suggested price. I learned from my mother’s mistakes growing up, she always picked the agent with the highest suggested price, it never worked out well. Now that I’m in the business, I found out that frequently novice agents recommend a high price, just to get the listing, knowing that eventually you will drop your price and they will get paid, oftentimes resulting in you getting several thousand less. Instead I work WITH the client on pricing, and they ultimately decide what to do.

  4. Market slowdown AND heading into the winter.
    This wasn’t easy, we had a race against the clock, the holidays. We could wait until spring, but who knows where prices would fall (or raise) to.

The Strategy.

  1. Staging, Staging, Staging.
    I brought in my professionally licensed Stager. (This should be a separate blog) She was amazing. Not only did she stage the place to look like a model new home, she guided a team of workers to renovate the place. New hardwood floors to have that unique pop unlike the competition, granite countertops , (the premium stuff, not the cheap stuff that the other unit had) new appliances, new carpet in the bedroom. All for about $10,000.

    In this market place, your house has to be remarkable. There is a reason that new home builders have amazing model homes… it makes things sell. So many listings out there are dumps inside. Buyer just don’t have good imagination. You can’t just say “$5,000 allowance for carpet,” it doesn’t work. For one, buyer’s will be off in their estimations by 100%. So a $3k carpet, in their mind will be $6k. New kitchen will be $10k instead of $5k etc etc. Staging was done by Staging by Patricia

  2. Pricing. We came up with $280,000. I actually INCREASED the price by $5k at the last moment. It just looked soooo good. I had spreadsheets that showed ratios comparing recently sold units to what they sold for 3 years ago (when my client bought mine) and looked at the current actives. This wasn’t a case of “Oh he just listed it low to sell fast.” Actually I was scared that the house would NOT appraise, as in too high!

  3. Photos, photos, photos.
    Did you know that it costs a Realtor $12 to post 20 photos? Yet maybe 20% of Realtors do so. And as a buyer, you know you love looking at everything! The good, the bad, everything. The more you see the more compelled you will be to see it person. Versus what? Make the place a mystery and compel people to come for a visit? Wishful thinking.
    Anyhow, the photos rocked if I may say so myself. As a former professional photographer, you can’t get this from a regular digital camera.(side note, did you see my photo was on the cover of USA Today’s travel section last week?)
    Also the main photo was a collage. I did this because a) it tells people that this link will have more photos b) some home search websites only show the first image.
  4. Domain name with more photos: I bought a and linked it to a photo album with even more photos. Check out the photos here.
  5. Typical Washington Post ads (small, bigger isnt’ better) and Craigslist ads. No rocket science here.
  6. Agent Follow up.
    An oh-so-important variable that is oftentimes overlooked. You have to contact each and e
    very visitor to get their feedback. I do this online by tracking the lockbox reports. I email them to get feedback so my client has in writing the agent’s thoughts. Usually this is not a negotiation, just honest feedback on what they liked and disliked.

The outcome

  1. Not much traffic!
    The market was slow, maybe only 5 real buyers saw it and 5 lookers.
  2. But Everyone LOVED it.
    The feedback was amazing, but it still wasn’t selling. A few people expressed a strong interest but nobody was willing to make the first leap to write. In this marketplace, there ARE buyers, but they are scared and kick the tires longer.
    “Let me know if you get an offer”, is what I kept on hearing. They all loved it, but nobody was taking the final step to make an offer.
  3. Finally I get one offer.
    After letting everyone know that everybody else loved the place and that everyone was “about” to write (which was true, I don’t lie or fib on this stuff), one person finally wrote.
  4. Dial for Dollars.
    This is what any good agent should do when they get an offer. They let EVERY remotely interested party know that an offer has hit? Is that ethical? Um, why not, I represent the seller and my job is to fight to get him that last $5k- $15k, and this is one way to do it. Would an agent that gives you a low commission rate do this? What to make an extra $50? Maybe, if so… hire him! This step can almost double the work for the agent, and for only a couple hundred dollars more in commission it isn’t worth it for most. I do it to a) help make you that last $10k and b) hope that you will tell your friends about it.
  5. 2 more offers.
    Step 4 worked and I was able to receive a total of 3 offers and with great terms such as a flexible closing date so the sellers could find a home (without a formal home purchase contingency)
  6. Bidding war after 14 days!
    In the olden days, a bidding war only occurs within the first week. Here we were on day 14 with a bidding war in a dead market. I don’t think the agents even believed me.

SOLD! 14 Days, 3 Written Offers, Above List!
Ultimately I was able to get the sellers $15,000 over one of the offers and a net that was a few thousand above the already stretched ($5,000 was added at the last second) sales price and a 2nd offer that escalated over list (I’m talking net sales price, even after the seller subsidy).

While I’d like to go into the details on their purchase, that stuff wold reveal secrets that I don’t want the other side to know about. It took a few weeks to negotiate and that was also a tough one, but they got an amazing price $45k below list (which shouldn’t be a metric since I’d rather you get a place for full list price on an aggressively priced house than save $50k on a place overpriced by $100k).

– Written by Frank Borges LL0SA- Va Broker/Owner
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  • 17
  • January
  • 2007

5 Responses to “Listing Case Study: Bidding War! Market Turn Around? Or Good Agent?”

  1. Virginia Realtor says:

    Can we steal Patricia from you? That was amazing!

  2. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    No! Stay away!

    Just kidding. Why not just join FranklyRealty and get the best of both worlds? ;-)

  3. tchaka owen says:

    Frank, that condo was NOT a wreck! I was there before you and I would describe the condition as “original” or perhaps “classic”. :-D

    I only saw pics after the updates and I must say that Patricia gave great value. I couldn’t believe it was the same place I’d been in several weeks earlier. Not only did it sell much faster, C&C made a profit on their investment. On top of that, the buyer loves the place so everyone involved won.

    – Tchaka Owen

  4. Teri Isner GRI, CRS, CIPS says:

    Listing agents who list for a fee and than make you do all the work with the sellers suck and hopefully this will be done away with if fiduciary laws are put in place.

  5. FRANK LL0SA Broker says:

    Only if the full service agents that charge $30,000 for a $1M house and can’t upload $12 worth of photos also get locked up under that same law.

    I don’t blame those agents, I blame the sellers.

    Also without these listings agents that you refer to, those listings would be unregulated FSBOs, and trust me, getting your commission paid out would be 10 times harder.

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