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Understanding the multi-offer process

Buyers  & Sellers  |  1 February 2018  | By the settled.govt.nz team

Document muliti offer

Lots of people get confused by the multi-offer process when they’re looking to buy. This is where all interested potential buyers are asked to submit their best offer on a property and the seller can choose whichever looks best.

This process means all prospective buyers get an equal shot. The seller is not obliged or required to accept any particular offer in this situation; they may accept one offer, reject all of them, or choose to negotiate further with one buyer.

A multi-offer process can only be described as such when there is more than one offer in writing – a real estate agent is not allowed to pretend that there are genuine competing offers if they do not exist.

All the offers have to be presented fairly to the seller, and the real estate agent is not allowed to favour one over another. Some real estate agencies will hold on to the first offer they receive while they check for others, effectively creating a multi-offer process.

This may feel unfair if you think your offer should ‘win’ because it was in first, but it’s worth remembering that the agent is working for the seller. Their key task is to get the seller the best result, based on both price and any conditions from buyers such as settlement date or being subject to finance.

If as a prospective buyer you are told that a sale is a multi-offer process but the situation later changes to a stand-alone offer, you must be told about this and get a chance to review your offer and submit a new one.

How to give a multi-offer process your best shot
  1. Do as much homework on a property as you can before making the offer so you minimise any risks. This is important for lots of reasons as it may help you eliminate some conditions and determine what your ‘best’ offer will be.
  2. When thinking about the offer, consider how you would feel you learned that a higher offer had been accepted ahead of yours. If you think you would be prepared to pay more, then it’s better to make that decision at the start than when it’s too late.
  3. Don’t forget to check the timeframes in a multi-offer process. Talk to the real estate agent marketing the property to make sure you are clear about any deadlines and about the sale process as a whole.
  4. Remember that the highest offer is not always the winner. If you were a seller, would you prefer a higher offer or one with fewer conditions? It’s impossible to guess what kind of offer will suit a seller’s circumstances, but it’s a good idea to eliminate as many roadblocks to a swift and easy sale as you can.
  5. Want to get in early? Include an expiry time on your offer. This means the agent must present it to the seller so they can consider it before it expires.

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