Home buyers across the U.S. are finding themselves in bidding wars due to a reduced supply of homes on the market, and some are resorting to desperate measures to ensure their bids are accepted. But sometimes they take things too far, professionals say.
An article in the Wall Street Journal recounts the story of Mary Lou Wertz, a real estate agent in Charleston, S.C., who related how one couple moving from New York fell in love with a four-bedroom home they’d seen online that carried a $1.2 million price tag.
The problem was that the owner had already accepted an offer from someone else. But the couple wouldn’t back down, and offered to pay $10,000 more. In addition, they offered the rival bidder $25,000 to give up and walk away. They also told the seller they’d donate $30,000 towards a hospital for cancer research, as he had recently lost his wife to cancer.
The couple’s offer was still rejected, with Wertz admitting that it seemed “a little over the top”.
In a second example, one couple told the Journal they’d seen more than 50 homes in Los Angeles and submitted offers on 16 of them, sometimes above the list price, and failed to land a single one.
But they said they were determined not to lose out of the 17th home they bid for, a $735,000 property in the Northridge area.
“We were turning up at showings, and there would be a line of people who were there before us,” Andrea Kissling of Los Angeles told the Journal. “These houses were getting 30 or 40 offers and going $100,000 over asking.”
The couple noticed however a lot of Harry Potter movie memorabilia around the home, and so they went to the length of producing a Harry Potter-themed video just for the sellers that fawned over the home and showed the couple reading Harry Potter books to their kids. Further, they offered to buy the sellers VIP passes to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Unfortunately, the couple’s bid still lost as someone put in a bigger offer for the home.
Another Los Angeles-based agent, Chris Furstenberg of Nourmand & Associates, told the Journal that one of his clients, who is a filmmaker, made an offer of a home and also promised a pair of tickets to the Academy Awards. That offer also lost out to a higher bidder.
Furstenberg said he believes such enticements will only work to settle a bidding war in the event of a tie. But if there’s a higher price, that usually always wins out in the end—no matter how much buyers try to sweeten the deal with other offerings.