BrokerageIndustry Voices

Small things that make a big difference in winning multiple offers

The winner in any competition usually does several barely noticeable, little things that ultimately make the difference in getting to the winner’s circle. Here are some of the little things in multiple offer situations that can help you achieve victory and avoid defeat.

1. Use a Proven Process. A proven process or system is like a treasured family recipe that has specific ingredients and steps. A multiple offer process (on both sides of the table) should also follow specific steps designed to achieve success. Checklists, forms, and scripts can guide and help you while still allowing for flexibility when necessary. All successful professionals use a proven process!

2. Ask the Right Questions for the Right Reasons. Questions can be used to gather information, show a caring attitude and persuade or influence. Focus on “what” and “how” questions vs. “why” questions, which may unintentionally sound accusatory. Asking better questions separates you from the crowd!

  • What is the seller looking for in an offer that they don’t already have?
  • What would the perfect offer look like from your side?
  • How do your clients feel about selling their home?
  • How will your seller feel if an investor buys their home vs. a family who will actually live in the home? 

3. Use the Right Persuasion Approach. Knowing which persuasion approach to use – and when – is the hallmark of a good negotiator. Persuading others can be done by using facts, emotions, or by asking the right question. While money factors can be compellingly persuasive, we frequently hear about emotional factors winning the day (e.g., a veteran with a lower offer getting the home or a couple with a lower offer getting the home because the wife had lupus and the home was perfect for her wheelchair). 

Emotional persuasion must always be authentic, never viewed as manipulative, and done in person if possible. The facts must be relevant and accurate. The right questions may cause someone to think differently. For those agents against “love letters” from the buyer, think in terms of a buyer resume that can easily avoid potential Federal Fair Housing issues while adding to your persuasiveness.

4. Have Your Buyer Make Two Offers on the Same Property. It can be difficult to know what value to offer a seller when the listing agent gives little or no information about what the seller is hoping to achieve. When you don’t have a lot of information, think about having your buyer make two offers to the seller to achieve these benefits: It communicates a strong desire from the buyer, it communicates a cooperative attitude and willingness to work with the seller, and it separates the buyer (and buyer’s agent) from the crowd. Each offer should be acceptable to the buyer but offer different types of value to the seller. As Harvard said in a recent article, this approach is “used far too infrequently.” 

5. Present Your Buyer’s Offer Professionally. It’s still surprising how many buyer’s agents send over an offer with only their contact information. How the buyer’s offer is presented to the listing agent and seller can (should!) be a determining factor for the winner. 

The most effective way to present the highlights of a buyer’s offer is in-person or via live videoconference (e.g., Zoom). It can be done effectively in 10 minutes or less using an organized framework. At a minimum, record a friendly, informal video and incorporate the viewing link as part of the purchase contract to try to ensure the seller sees the video. 

Additionally, include a cover letter with the offer that persuades in writing using proven persuasion principles (short paragraphs with bullet points format is recommended).

6. Build Trust, Use a Respectful Tone of Voice, and Be Collaborative. Build trust by striving for mutual benefit and acting in the best interests of everyone (while not forgoing your fiduciary responsibility to your buyer). Your tone of voice should always be respectful. Your style should be collaborative — not compliant or competitive — to ease the path to agreement. (Tip: After any interaction with the listing agent, send a short “thank you” via text, video, and/or email.)

Your negotiations are like life: Sometimes, it’s the little things that matter most!

Tom Hayman is the Founder and CEO of the Real Estate Negotiation Institute (  After a successful corporate career as a professional negotiator, Tom brought his  professional negotiation skills to the real estate industry in 2006. Tom has degrees from the United States Naval Academy and the University of Southern California, and has received training from Harvard, Wharton, and Oxford University in England.  RENI offers multiple negotiation training courses and designations across North America.