Sarita Dua, Principal Broker at AskSarita Team - Training Your Team To Win In Multiple Offer Situations

Brian Charlesworth
October 8, 2020

[00:00:00] Well, hello there, how are you doing?

[00:00:03] Hey there. Thanks so much for having me.

[00:00:05] Yeah, welcome. Thanks for joining us. So I don't know how to pronounce your name, isn't Cerita Sereda yet? We got it. OK.

[00:00:15] Thank you for joining us. This is my first time meeting you, so it's a pleasure to meet you. We're excited to have you here today with us.

[00:00:22] We really appreciate you joining you.

[00:00:24] Come from a really unique background in that you are really you're the broker over Ritz Carlton, Carlton residences. So when you think of that, I think most people, at least I think of. You're selling some pretty exclusive homes, but tell us more about what you guys actually do.

[00:00:44] Sure. Yeah, first of all, in Oregon, everybody's a broker. So I think around the country, right? You think of agents and then you think of brokers as being management or owning franchises, et cetera. In our vernacular, everybody's a broker. And then if you're a managing broker or a principal broker. So that's just one subtle thing. And I think one of the sort of the takeaways already from the last day and a half of content here is is really just kind of making, hey, when when the sun shines and kind of bidding and doing what you need to do. And so I have a strong I've been in Portland 20 years now in real estate for 16, really strong referral base buyer business, obviously, because it's referral base. I do listings and I do buyers, but really know the market from a buyer perspective. And I'm enjoying what covid and stay at home has brought us in terms of having to get creative and now having to really sharpen our tool kit that we can win in multiple office situations. But then, yes, separately, we do have the Ritz Carlton residences coming to Portland in twenty twenty three. We've broken ground and it's a forty two month build. So we're we're on track for Q1 twenty twenty three. It will be the first five star hotel in Portland and the first Ritz Carlton branded residences in the Pacific Northwest. So very excited to be the exclusive broker for that.

[00:02:07] So, you know, managing all the different hats, being a luxury broker, but also understanding the market today and where we need to be today.

[00:02:16] We are definitely reservations for that project and have a lot of excitement with that as well.

[00:02:21] So. That's everybody's dream to to win a project like that. How did you guys do that?

[00:02:28] Well, you know, I think I think part of it is and this is one of the things I've been talking about in the content that we'll be talking with multiple offers is, I think, having the confidence to go for it. Right. I think we have imposter syndrome a lot of times, like, oh, I can interview for that. I don't have this background or or there's 15 offers tells my boy are going to win. And I think the first thing is truly believing that you can make a difference. And if you don't have what you might lack experience, you bring innovation or a different way to look at it or just a different perspective. I had just stop an executive MBA at MIT. In fact, I just graduated in May. I was one of the few people that joined that program if I didn't want to change my career to learn. The problem is you never go into something saying you're not going to change because you change and you can't unsee things once you start thinking big.

[00:03:21] So change, right? Growth. Absolutely.

[00:03:25] Absolutely. So being prepared and kind of having a mindset of also on what it would take to succeed and having a lot of data as to who our buyer is and what our competition is from a buyer broker perspective is knowing the persona of that buyer. What what do they wear or what do they drive? How do they vacation? That helped me secure that project, but also is helping me marketing it today with the right brokers and the right clientele.

[00:03:53] Ok, so I'm really excited to dove into our topic today to win in multiple offers situations.

[00:04:02] I would think that this is probably the biggest challenge any real estate team is facing today, because it used to be you might have multiple offers with two or three people.

[00:04:15] Now it can be 20 or 30 different offers.

[00:04:20] Very unique situation, somebody described it to me as it's like we're all drinking out of this pond in the middle of the desert and the pond just keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller. And so how do we make sure that we are the ones getting a home? And so now, more than ever, it's so important that a buyer selects an agent who can really make a difference in getting them into a into the home they want because it's it's not easy.

[00:04:49] And so she's hearing your tips on how do we do this? How what do we need to do and how do we train our buyers agents?

[00:04:57] To make sure they're doing the things they need to do so that they can win in these multiple offers situations where there's 20 or 30 offers and in some cases I'm seeing people offer in Utah anyway, I'm seeing offers that thirty thousand forty thousand above asking price that are still not winning the offer.

[00:05:16] Yeah, I mean, I just had one there was a listing of mine, three eighty five and it went for over 460. You know, it's just crazy out there. So I think the thing I mean we don't have to spend a lot of time on how we got here, but it is the perfect storm. Right. We had a dam built when we did stay at home where people didn't list because they didn't know what this covid thing's going to be. And so all of our spring sellers didn't list. Meanwhile, the rates are so low sub to five, two point three, seven five. And and ironically, if you have a job instability, you almost want to buy a home even more and get placed before because if there's a layoff, you might be off for a couple of years. So this is kind of creating this perfect storm of nothing to buy and everyone wanting to buy it. And so what I'm loving, Brian, is the it's I think, quite frankly, I don't know. I don't know if you remember being a new driver. And I remember getting my driver's license, volunteering to go get milk for my mom or my or go get bread from the grocery store. I we were so excited. Know the key, putting the key in shifting in to drive the car kind of moves itself. We were really aware. And then somewhere along the way you're on autopilot. We can get from point A to point B, we don't even remember driving but can go on a long road trip and not even really remember it.

[00:06:35] And I think that for me as an agent, that's sort of what was happening as far as I'd like to think of myself as a good agent. But we were just sort of going through the motions and this time more than ever has had me really kind of check myself and get excited again as to what our craft is. So I use this sort of framework three C's. The first is confidence, actually having the confidence and not being intimidated by the situation. It really does boil down to expectations. Right. You have to set expectations with their buyers that, listen, when you're twenty offers and you're wanting to go off of asking price like below asking price with nothing out, where's the teeth in this? Where's the skin in the game? I'll tell them straight up. I can't tell them exactly what the price will be that it'll take, because if I knew that, I'd be in Vegas counting cards. Right.

[00:07:27] But I can tell them if there's ten offers, that it's likely going to go off of asking and probably not just a little bit above. And so I'm pretty good at telling them what won't work.

[00:07:38] So setting expectations with them that, hey, it's going to work the way it's supposed to and if you do everything right, but short of robbing a bank, if if we lose to someone that's all cash or fifty percent down and they every contingency there is like at some point we just can't compete. And that one wasn't going to we're just not going to it's not meant to be on that one. On the other side of it though is just having the confidence to share with them what it takes.

[00:08:04] And I think one of the biggest mistakes we all do is we focus on the price and there's so much more to an offer than the price. So I tell them the five parts of an offer is like price earnings, money, down payment or loan terms, clothes, date and miscellaneous miscellaneous means inspection period, appraisal contingency.

[00:08:24] What are we going to do about repairs? They're going to be around back. That miscellaneous bucket matters now more than ever. And there are several ways to make an offer stronger without actually upping the price.

[00:08:35] So I think that I guess the first takeaway here is to be a really great student of the game, how to write offers, know the mechanics. I use this joke. We learn how to multiply in third grade, but we we learn adding negative in first grade. And once you realize multiplying is so much faster, it's like, why didn't we learn multiplication first? It's because you need to know the basics, know the basics of an offer, know that sale agreement airtight. No, like our job is like being a restaurant and giving them the menu of everything they can do. They don't they may not remove every contingency under the sun, but if they're willing to pay fifty K over ask, they probably would have been willing to waive or limit repairs. But maybe their previous agent didn't tell them that that's something they could do. So at least giving them the full menu of different things they should be considering and then leaving it up to them, the buyer and their motivation for that house as to which levers they're going to use. So I think that's the first step, is just being confident, knowing that you have anecdotes and stories and examples of how how they can win beyond price. And then to me, that the second part and then I'm OK. Go ahead.

[00:09:53] Before you move on from that, I just have a question for you. You talked about, like waiving.

[00:09:56] Repairs, somebody not waiving repairs.

[00:10:01] How important is it that you communicate as a buyer's agent, that you communicate with the listing agent and find out what's important me up?

[00:10:12] Because we obviously did in our pre pre talk because you didn't clarifying pronunciation of my name.

[00:10:18] You're leading me right to my second Sisu, which is communication. The main thing I do is after I tell the buyer these are the things I start thinking about with the offer, I also give them the outright. Like I know you're thinking about this house. Is there any concerns you have, like you've slept on it now? Like, what are the issues you have? While I ask them to think about Price and some of the mechanics we talk to, I tell them now I'm going to go talk to the agent and figure out everything I can.

[00:10:44] And then I call the agent and I just introduce myself. I just say, hey, you know, my client, Brian, is digging your house. One, two, three, Main Street. What can you tell me besides price that will make this a win for your seller? And then I like to talk Amelio. I will bite my tongue till it bleeds so that they don't talk and I just listen. It is amazing to me how much they tell you. I've had agents tell me literally the price it has to be. I have some agents tell me, hey, they don't know where all the minute I hear they don't know where they're going.

[00:11:18] That means some flexibility.

[00:11:20] A rep back some time after close would likely be welcome for them because they don't they have a little bit of risk and that they don't know we're making them homeless and they don't know where they're going or they had three sales sales.

[00:11:33] So now for them, they could care less about price. They want to know every single way that this thing can fall apart. And how what are we doing? The bullet proof, the transaction. So having. Yeah, yeah. Go ahead.

[00:11:46] Yeah, I just said yeah. They just want to guarantee give me a guarantee this is going to close right at that point. That's all they care about. If it's fun apart.

[00:11:54] I tell my sellers when I lost the house and I tell my buyers when we're writing on a house that the sellers want to do things, they want the best price and they want the lowest risk. They want the highest probability that this horse is going to cross the finish line. And that's a combination of great lender, amazing agents. You know, it's unfortunate, but you can't wake up and be a good agent today. You've actually had to be a good agent and have a great reputation throughout that.

[00:12:21] You can't you can't be one of those agents that's sort of known to be a shyster and then all of a sudden try to turn the leaf and just be a good, honest, responsible, responsive, high integrity agent that has a good reputation because many times truth. If we were just playing on price, it would be price. Right, right. Like the highest offer wins. But that's a tough game. It's a game show. We don't know what the price will be. So we look at price, but we look at other parameters. And sometimes we'll take escalation clauses. Sometimes they won't. Sometimes we can do a love letter, sometimes for fair housing, doesn't want a love letter. So and the listing agent won't take them. So I think the truth is there are many times where I've gotten the call and they've said, hey, sorry, your client isn't the highest you were for Callaway or your were away.

[00:13:08] But we know you. We've worked with you before. We like so many elements of your power. Would you either bump up or would you could you match this term now?

[00:13:18] Again, it's not exactly what we offered that we said was best on file. But my buyers in that situation are thrilled because now they had the first right to refusal, right. They they at least had the option. They could either match it or walk away, but at least they're in the game and it's their decision versus just the sellers decision. So that communication brand is so key. And I got to be honest, it's embarrassing to me as a fifty one year old with millennial kids that are nineteen and twenty one, it's embarrassing to me as agents we're forgetting that as agents we prefer each other. We're forgetting the just the the art of conversation and picking up the phone. And when you pick up the phone, you don't realize that every conversation you have is this rapport building. I get it.

[00:14:02] I mean, I get a call from Mariotte or some timeshare every minute. I get so much robo calls that there's a lot of us that don't pick up the phone real time. However, even if that agent is too busy and offered to talk and after multiple attempts, then you're texting, I mean, I can't tell you how many times I've received an offer without a phone call, without even a message. I'm now about to present offers and I happen to check my spam and there's an offer sitting there. But that agent never even tried to tell. They're sending an offer.

[00:14:34] Yes. What is the percentage that you're going to take that offer if they haven't even communicated with me very low? Right.

[00:14:40] It is, because at this point, I mean, I can look at everything on paper, but I'm counting on that agent to do their job when the appraisal doesn't come in or when there's a crazy repair, it's that agent poaching the buyer. And if I'm not communicating with them, I don't know enough about their ability.

[00:14:56] To do it, I have one situation where it happened to be my listing, multiple offers, I got my manager, a broker involved so there would be no conflict of interest, but my buyer's agent happened to write on our listing. We were not the highest offer, but the highest the highest offer. Didn't call us, used the wrong form. I mean, literally had a septic tank form when there was it was just public sewer line didn't to fill out the paperwork. And I just I just presented it to the agent. I'm like, hey, just so you know, like this one five higher. But like there's a little bit of risk here. And I'm not I'm just telling you everything. This is a spreadsheet here and there like three to five k's. Nothing for peace of mind. I need this thing to close.

[00:15:34] And we were able to bring this one up three K and they had such peace of mind, they had a free rent back that they didn't even use. But it just they were definitely risk averse to take the risk. So we gave it we left it to them. But prices and everything. And it is amazing to me. I mean, I know if I told the audience, but I know I'm not the only one that has had this happen where you get offers and you haven't had a conversation or people not even attempting to present it, we don't have time to present in person and safety and health like we may not do it in person, but at least make sure that you send the offer and say, look, I need five minutes to walk through the salient points of the offer, make sure you don't have any questions and paint that picture back the lender so that the lender magically by the listing agent as well and say, hey, just so you know, three to mention that she's got a VIP client offering this house. Before you even call me, I want to tell you that credit, income and assets have been verified. These people are solid and should just little things like that. What are we doing as those two things? Right. Best terms, but lowest risk. We're having that risk for that listing agent, knowing that we're doing everything we can to assure them it's a strong offer.

[00:16:46] I love this. If if every agent just knew this little secret, I mean, it's so important.

[00:16:53] But we've gone away from communicating, like you say. Will you give me that question one more time that you ask when you call the agent?

[00:17:01] Sure. Hey, Brian, my clients are digging. One, two, three, four, Main Street. Can you tell me, besides Price, what would what would make this a win for your seller? We're definitely gonna write an offer. Besides price, what would make this a win for your seller?

[00:17:14] And then just up and listen. And then when you listen right there, I've seen it, which the way you say that is magical and then I've seen it where they'll actually you say sometimes I'll tell you everything I've seen and where they'll say.

[00:17:29] Yeah, if if you'll bring me an offer as this, this and this, and it will accept it. Yeah, yeah.

[00:17:35] I mean I had some I can remember it was like nine years ago, but I still remember it. The agent, it was sitting around through 70 for a bit, three seventy or three eighty. We were going to kind of lowball it at sixty. And when I called the agent, just feeling her out also make sure nothing had happened because it's sort of been sitting there long time ago. Obviously this wasn't in this market, but still I called her and she goes, Cerita, they'd take three.

[00:17:59] I mean we were going to go with 360, they'd take three fifty. Well we offered three forty. We put it together like three forty two or three forty four or something like that. But it was a good almost twenty off of where we were expecting to come in because she told me now maybe she's a bad agent, not doing her fiduciary, maybe she's a brilliant agent. It may be that that seller said, listen, I want it sold and you're free to tell them that this is the number I'll take. I'm not going to pass any judgment. All I know is by having the conversation, my buyer had a better outcome and bought the house. So you never assume anything. I mean, at the end of the day, I would just say you can't blame a girl for trying. You know, like, I'll I'll and I won't say numbers, but like, I'll just ask it if they won't tell me, even if they shut me down a bit, I'll still immediately text them after. Hey, thank you so much time you'll be we're going to be in touch. We're gonna get you a good clean offer. Thank you. I mean already they're going to start recognizing my name. I guarantee you, Brian, if push came to shove and the offers and they were all exactly the same, we know offers aren't exactly the same, but let's say they were exactly the same. They're going to still remember, Ben, she did all this to get her buyer. This house. Once we're together, we're going to be on the same side here, which is a smooth and successful place for all because she tried so hard for her buyer. She's doing her job right. So if nothing else, it suddenly is going to give you an advantage that you took the time to have the communication.

[00:19:21] I absolutely 100 percent agree with that, Cerita. So tell me about the third sea.

[00:19:26] So my third sea is really creativity. And again, like I said, I'm enjoying this again. I had a weekend. I mean, it's kind of crazy, but I had a weekend, Memorial Day weekend, where we had 10 multiple of situations, three on my list and seven on Buyers'. It never happens. But I won all seven and it was really fun. And part of it was being creative. Right.

[00:19:47] That's when, you know, you have mastered the craft. It's fun, right? And like I said, it helps 16 years in the business. But I was joking with Sharon. Sereda can have one of those names. I could use only my first name.

[00:20:00] And people know me and my market and they know I've been at three different firms. So they know many of the different brokers and I've volunteered as well. But their creativity comes from like, again, knowing those menu options, like, hey, I'll say this. I'll tell my buyers, look, unless you're an inspector or unless you're like tearing down the house, it's not wise usually to just give up your right to terminate due to the inspection. But you can say something like if we move forward with this transaction, we're within our right to terminate. But if we move forward after the inspection, we will do so with a either no repairs or be only asking you for items that are fifteen hundred dollars or more per line item. So just the major safety structure type items, not cooking light fixtures and scuffs on the wall or whatnot.

[00:20:50] Write an appraisal waivers to we're waiving the appraisal as long as it appraises at price. We're not going to back out due to the appraisal and we do have enough money to adjust our down to be 20 percent of the lower amount and bring in the rest with cash.

[00:21:05] Right. Again, most of the time it's even with this craziness, it's pretty rare that I've I've had a huge gap on appraisal lately. But just knowing that we've talked about it and we've just we've sort of workshop that scenario and we know that the buyer has the cash. And then it's another way for me to go and stay back in touch with the agent. Like, by the way, after our conversation, I talked to the lender. I talked to the buyer. We reviewed how much cash she has. We've created a spreadsheet. We know worst case and best case we can handle the cash. There's no hesitation at all. Right.

[00:21:37] That just gives that agent an added sense of confidence that these aren't just words and we're not going to freak out and have more because we've put some thought into it.

[00:21:47] And there are a lot of people writing offers today that are writing them way over with the anticipation that they're going to bring it down with the appraisal. And let's be honest, addressing that. Yeah, yeah.

[00:22:02] The seller has the leverage at the offer time, but the buyer has the letter to the inspection team. Right. And so making sure that we know that. But we're kind of acknowledges also that we're going to behave and not be holding hostage after another creative thing we've been doing is, you know, my friend vehicle that a bully offer, I call it sweeping in and stealing a house.

[00:22:24] There may be enough like I had one where we showed it Thursday. We had the offer in Friday morning. The deadline was Monday night. And I knew if we waited, like my client knew this was the house. They had looked at everything and we wrote even some offers that didn't work. And this was the one.

[00:22:40] And it was amazing to me to see how his motivation changed. Part of it was two teenagers in an apartment due to covid now home. Twenty four seven. Right. Like things changed that he was way more willing to play by the rules to get a house than he was before. And we said, hey, listen, we're giving you an amazing offer. And we dialed every portion of the offer over asking hi, earnest money, short inspection period. No repairs, no appraisal waiver, no no backing out due to the appraisal. And we said, listen, this guy loves this house. He has to have it. He's not going to be able to wait till Monday. In fact, I have an inspection on hold for Monday and we can close in three weeks.

[00:23:23] And I'm obviously respectful like I get it. You said Monday and here I am doing this twenty four hour offer on Friday. But I'll tell you this. He loves it. He wants it. And it's a bird in the hand for your seller. You can be done no more people through your house, etc.. And will we be here on Monday if you don't accept this. Of course they will like they love the house. But I can't guarantee the sweeteners that they've put in now are going to be there. This these this offer as written expires on Saturday at 5:00 or whatever. Saturday at 4:00 comes around. They call me Hazari. We're going to do it because at the end of the day, I mean, it's a hedge for everyone, right? They might have more offers and better offers or they may not.

[00:24:08] The first hour of this, they don't know. And a bunch of showings don't always translate to offers. In fact, sometimes people get discouraged with an offer deadline, like it's going to go crazy. I don't want to play. So I've done some creative things like that. The trick is I know people who are watching might be like, well, that's kind of you know, that's that's you're being an ass. You're being disrespectful. You're not listening.

[00:24:31] I mean, the way the way you're doing that is it's really totally respectful. It's, hey, you know what?

[00:24:38] Here's an offer that is you're giving them the highest confidence that it is going to close and close quickly.

[00:24:46] Exactly. Yeah. And and honestly, like full disclosure, we couldn't even meet the terms if we waited till Tuesday. Right. We had such a compressed timeline. Part of it was accepting it right away. And it was a bird in the hand and they can take it or not. But the trick with doing that stuff, especially when you're like literally blowing off the rule that has been set up right for you, which is a deadline, is to do it respectfully. Right. My client has instructed me to put this in front of you. We hope it works. We understand if it won't. But like if nothing else, the message you have here is they want this house and they're willing to pull out all the stops. We'd love to have a conversation. And so here you go. And it's it's amazing. Like I said, people get a chance to sleep on it. They see all these offers. They're exasperated by the whole thing. It's stressful for everybody. And I've done that multiple times this year and it's worked. But you just have to do it professionally and respectfully and not. I think sometimes as agents we forget we're not on title.

[00:25:43] It's not we our client. Right. So we get a little emotional, sometimes emotional. Our egos sometimes come into play. At the end of the day, we're working hard for our clients. Not I mean, this isn't about us. And we have to just, again, give the our clients a choice and see if this is something they want to try. But my client had knew, right? Well, not only did they know this was the one, they also knew at a certain level it wouldn't work for them, like they were willing to go above asking and pull out all the stops. But if it would have got out of hand, they just would have been too rich for their blood. They did have a limit. They were they were very motivated by the conventional limit of five, ten for every dollar over that money out of their pocket. Right. So so at some point, even though they were well approved for hire to not go into jumbo trades, like they really wanted to keep it at a number that would work for them.

[00:26:35] Yeah, well, there's one thing that's really obvious that I've discovered in the last thirty minutes, and that's what an amazing agent you are.

[00:26:44] So congratulations on that. I'm wondering, I mean.

[00:26:51] Geez, I think a lot of people listening right now would be like, hey, I wouldn't mind her spending some time with my team. Is that something you'd be open to if somebody wanted?

[00:26:59] I would love that. In fact, I've been doing this training a little bit ad hoc and getting some good feedback on it. And I think it's so timely so that if anyone did want to have me speak or take some of this and expand it beyond 30 minutes, it'd be an honor to just reach out to me, if I may, on Facebook. My handle on that is ask Sarita Astarita dot com, and usually my cell's plastered everywhere as well. So just reach out to me directly.

[00:27:23] So ask Siri to come and and you have access to Cerita to to just work with your team to make sure they've mastered this.

[00:27:33] Some great tips. I really enjoyed having you with us today. So thank you so much for coming on and joining us at the summit.

[00:27:40] Thank you. The summit's been really first class all the way to being part of it. Thanks, Brian.

[00:27:44] Yeah, great to see you. Take care. Bye bye.

About the Author

Brian Charlesworth
Chairman and CEO

Entrepreneur and business builder. Built and sold software and telecommunications companies. Passionate about making a significant impact on lives by driving technology forward.