…or “the space between here & there…”

What follows is a fictionalized account based on the combined experiences of a number of recent buyer clients.

The market is hot for sellers everywhere, so Jeff and Linda Sharp decided to take advantage and put their house up for sale. They wanted to be closer to their adult children and grandkids. With a job opening in the area for Jeff, and remote work available for Linda, it seemed like the perfect time to make the move.

Predictably, their out-of-state home sold in a matter of hours—and for more than list price. Knowing the sale side would be easy and the purchase side could take time, the Sharp’s didn’t want to be forced into “panic-buying” a property just to meet a deadline. They wanted time to learn the market, see what areas they liked and didn’t, and make a decision once they were comfortable and prepared.

So the Sharps formulated a transition plan—selling whatever items they didn’t plan to move, putting the remaining personal belongings in a storage facility, and securing a short-term rental in the new city. They closed on the sale of their home in less than 30 days, and moved into a furnished Airbnb—a temporary landing spot until the right home came on the market.

The strategy worked. They were now available to look at properties in person as soon as they hit the market, and every few days a potential option would come available. Jeff would view a potential home on his lunch break, or Linda would run to a new listing as soon as she finished a meeting, because they knew they would not have long to make a decision. At times, a new listing that she had just seen that morning would have multiple offers by the time they arrived to see it later that afternoon.

They soon learned that some of their wish list would have to be more negotiable than they expected. Maybe they didn’t need a finished basement, or a fenced in yard. Maybe they would have to consider some neighborhoods that were a little further from their kids than they had hoped. Not that they were beggars yet, but they certainly couldn’t be choosers.

After three weeks and maybe four or five showings, they were starting to learn the area and the market when a home came up that had promise. It happened to be Jeff’s day off, so they scheduled a showing within an hour. When they arrived they waited in the driveway while the previous showing wrapped up. Within 30 minutes, they felt this one was worth taking a shot, so they made an offer.

Having already discussed the potential for competition, and the common use of an escalation clause in such situations, the Sharps offer started at full list price, but allowed for their offer to escalate an additional $10,000 in the event of a better, competing offer. Having no home to sell and a healthy down payment, they felt good about their prospects.

By noon the next day they got word and, unfortunately, it wasn’t good—their offer wasn’t chosen. The sellers had received five total offers and, in addition to price, they picked an offer with better “terms.” Reading between the lines, their agent suggested that offer may have waived the home inspection and possibly the appraisal. It also could have been a cash offer.

Undeterred, the search continued. Meanwhile, the conditions at their short-term rental were beginning to wear on them both. Living out of a few suitcases, working from home in what turned out to be a rather noisy community, sleeping on a strange bed…the pressure to find a home began to build.

Over the next month, the Sharps went on to see more than a dozen homes—some disappointing, some with potential, all with offers by the end of the second day, if not sooner. The pace at which they processed their thoughts on each property quickened. The questions they needed to have answered came faster. The decision to either make an offer or pass had to be made almost before they left the house.

A second offer—this time with a stronger (higher) escalation, but still keeping the home inspection—was made and rejected. One month turned into two, and then three.

After four failed attempts, each compounding their weariness for the whole matter to be over, their fifth offer was accepted. With some additional tweaks to the contingencies, the Sharps finally had an end in sight. Several weeks later, they laid down to rest in their own bed, in their own home, for the first time in almost six months.

While this is a fictitious account with home buyers who aren’t real, the situation is all too real for home buyers throughout Virginia and across the country. Offers are getting creative, and yours should too if you are in the market.