The Importance of Timeliness in Real Estate
Time is of the essence in this business and an extra 24 hrs can mean the difference in a deal or no deal or thousands of dollars at times. There are tight timelines at times in the buying and selling process. Timely action & communication can mean the difference between whether a buyer gets a house or not, and whether a seller gets a good offer or not. Part of my role is to ensure that you are not in breach of contract and that we are able to respond in such a way that we get positive results from the other party involved in a transaction. That said, I never want a buyer or seller to sign something where they don't know what it means. I also want the buyers and sellers I work with to always feel comfortable about making highly informed decisions about one of the biggest decisions of many buyers' and sellers' lives. If you don't, the likelihood of buyer's remorse or seller's remorse is much higher. It’s never too late or too early to reach out to me.
What Sellers Need to Know: Fast Response Times for Showings
Fast showing responses for sellers is critical. It can mean the difference of a property getting shown and then getting an offer and not getting shown at all. If it's already been more than 24 hrs between the time when a showing request is made and when authorization is provided, the buyer may have already made an offer on another property. Even a 15-minute delay can mean that a property is shown or not shown, an offer is made or not made, if the buyers are already in the neighborhood and happen to see the for sale sign during a 1-day tour of many homes at the end of which they make an offer.
The best option for listings, in markets where it's available, is Showingtime. Showingtime enables buyer's agents to reach out to a seller or tenant about showings with no middleman involved to slow things down. The buyer's agent can still reach out to the listing agent, as I always do when representing buyers, but the showing request itself reaches the occupant, if applicable, instantly, and vacant properties can have instant confirmation. Alternatives to Showingtime are typically cheaper, and nothing compares to it because of the significant problems I've seen with competing platforms.
In some cases, a listing agent will ask for emails only for showing requests or may ask for the office to be called when the office is only open 9-5 M-F. They're shooting their sellers in the feet doing that, but I've seen it happen with the sellers having likely no idea about how bad that is for their sale.
Even if you have Showingtime, that doesn't solve everything, because slow listing agent responses to questions & slow occupant responses to showing inquiries can still result in canceled appointments. Some Showingtime agents are still very sluggish to respond to questions about listings unless that question is about a listing that has been previously shown where an offer is being considered. Even when an offer is considered, some agents are still very slow to respond to questions.
If a seller hasn't stated in advance of listing that pictures and video are allowed at their property, it could slow down a virtual showing at their property, in some cases by more than 24 hours, especially if an estate sale with more than 2 parties needing to agree on something like that.
In Virginia, while a tenant can allow showings in less than 24 hrs, they can't be mandated to do so. Tenant flexibility is one of the important inquiries to make prior to deciding whether you want to evict tenants or stop their lease prior to sale.
What Buyers & Sellers Need to Know: Timelines for Inspections
A fast timeline for a home inspection or any other buyer-paid and arranged inspection is good for a seller, while a longer timeline for any seller-paid inspection is best for the seller. If the buyer is responsible, it's best to get the buyer in and out and get the property back on the market if it doesn't work out. Conversely, if the seller is arranging for the inspection, and especially if they are paying for it also, it's better to not have to deal with it and sink money into it until after the buyer has removed any contingencies for inspections they have so that money isn't spent needlessly that may need to be replicated for a future buyer since inspections only are good for a certain time period (i.e. 30 days for a termite/moisture inspection).
A longer timeline for a home inspection or other inspection that the buyer is performing and that the seller is performing is favorable to a buyer, but in the case of ones that the buyer is paying for, it means that the offer won't be as strong.
With home inspections, 5 days is tight, but doable. I typically don't recommend it if you're including more than 1 inspection, depending on the inspection type. For instance, chimney inspections can be bad for trying to get one fast. Mold inspections can take days after the actual inspection to be sent off to a lab. 7 days is also tight, but even more doable. If you're a 1-offer scenario, a 7-day timeline is often something I recommend if only performing 1 inspection as long as you don't have your heart set on a certain inspector. If you have a home inspection, mold inspection, and chimney inspection, even 10 days may be tight. Also, the more rural a property is, the more time you may need. If you have 3+ inspections in a very rural area, 14 days for inspections may be needed. If you're getting under contract for land, you'll need even more time than that in some cases for things like wetlands delineations if the property appears to have wetlands based on the US wetlands mapper.
Whether you're buying or selling, offer timeliness is a critical element of the home buying and selling process. There are times when it's important that an agent doesn't rush you, but other times, such as with offers, where an agent would be derelict in their duties if they didn't give you a gentle nudge along in the process. Like expeditious showings, expeditious offers for buyers and expeditious offer responses for sellers are critical. I've seen where properties go on and off the market in <1 hour in at least 1 case, and in more cases, <12 hours.
Buyer Example 1: Winning an Offer Before a Better Offer Was Made
I've seen where my buyer made an offer soon after it hit the market, the seller accepted, and another buyer made an offer too late that was significantly stronger than our offer.
Buyer Example 2: Winning an Offer Day 1 On the Market
I've seen where my buyer knew about a "coming soon" listing because I sent it to them (which isn't possible in all MLS, including REIN), we saw it the day it hit the market, we made an offer with a deadline, and the seller accepted our offer on that first day.
Buyer Example 3: Unresponsive Buyer
I once had a buyer who shared that they wanted to make an offer. After sending them an offer for their review/signature I followed up with them around 9 PM that night, asking if they had any questions. I didn't hear back, & they typically were fairly responsive. I followed up with them the next morning, asking again if they had any questions. They did have a few questions which I answered within 35 minutes. One of the questions they asked highlighted one of their biggest concerns about the property, growth visible on the walls. I asked at 5:13 PM if they had any more questions, and relayed to them, "The listing agent said, "There are 2 offers in my email, will be reviewing the offers this evening with the sellers."" It is important to note that in many cases, even though I typically ask listing agents to relay when other offers are present, they often won't prior to accepting another offer. At 9:30 PM, still not having heard back from the buyer, & with most decisions by sellers on multiple offer situations made prior to 9 PM, I asked the buyer, "At this point I am assuming that you decided to not submit an offer. Right?" The next morning they shared that they felt I was rushing them, that a coworker had died the day prior, and that they no longer wanted to work with me. If I hadn't been following up with them, I would have been an apathetic agent about their best interests, and in doing so derelict in my fiduciary duties to them to protect their interests at all times. If they had simply told me the day before that a co-worker had died, or even if they hadn't told me that, if they had told me that they would prefer for me to follow up less, I would have sought to respect their wishes, even if it was at the expense of their offer's chances of success.
Seller Example 4: Losing an Offer Because the Seller Took Too Long to Respond
Did you know that if the seller takes too long to respond, the buyer may walk? In some cases, offer deadlines are included in offers, but even when they aren't (& they typically aren't in Hampton Roads), it's important to know that buyers have the ability to withdraw their offer at any time. In some cases, a buyer will make an offer, and not stop the process of showings at other properties. When I've had sellers take too long to respond despite my follow-up to encourage them to expedite review/signatures, I've seen where buyers' agents told me that the buyers and they would be seeing more properties without withdrawing their offer. I've also seen where buyers withdrew their offer with no notice after the seller took too long.
Buyer Example 5: Buyers Lost Offer Because They Were 2nd Chronologically