Q & A with Dottie Herman

» Featured Columnists | By Dottie Herman | August 26, 2010 4:12 PM ET

Q1 - I recently put my home on the market and received a few offers. How do we decide which offer we should take? Do we simply go by price? Should we be looking at terms? Should we create a bidding war? We just do not know how to pick the correct buyer to ensure we can move forward with this transaction.

A - It's a great question and one every seller needs to consider.  While it's always tempting to accept the highest offer, there are other factors to consider as well.  First you must consider the viability of that buyer closing on your home.  To understand that you need to have an overview of the buyers financial picture. Questions to keep in mind include: Does the buyer require financing?  If so, can that buyer obtain financing?  How large a loan does the buyer require? When does the buyer want to close?  Are there any contingencies?  Which one of these offers has terms most favorable for you?  After considering those elements you have some important decisions to make.  You can decide to negotiate with one party, you can accept an offer or you can go back to those all those who submitted an offer and ask them to submit their best and final offers to you.  Certainly you do want the highest possible price, but you always want to ensure that you can close with that buyer.   

Q2 - My wife and I are looking to purchase a coop in New York City. We do not mind sharing financial information with a coop board as we understand that is part of the process, but aren't the letters just a waste of time?  Do I really need to get quality letters from business associates and friends? What is the purpose of this?

A - Many coop boards put great weight into the letters that are submitted on behalf of an applicant.  These letters can provide insight into your personal and professional character, which is of interest to the board. If you have poorly written letters it can reflect negatively on you and your application.  I understand that gathering the letters can be a difficult process, but it will be worth it if you get the apartment of your dreams.

Q3 - My husband and I have been looking for houses for about 5 months. We have put in a number of bids over the course of the past few weeks, and haven't had any accepted offers yet. What are we doing wrong? We thought we could get a deal - but when we put in low offers it seems like no one counters our offer. Is it because we are just going too low? I thought sellers would still counter-offer.

A - It sounds like there might be a disconnect between the price you want to pay and the price that the marketing is bearing. If you are looking for a value, now is a good time to buy a home.  Prices are lower than they were a few years ago and interest rates remain near historic lows.  When the economy fully recovers and housing prices most likely increase you will be thankful you purchased now, and then you can look back and say to your husband, 'we really got a deal!' 

Q4 - I recently bought another house in a surrounding area and I am actively trying to sell the house I live in now with my husband and two children. We are expecting our 3rd child in a few months and we are wondering if it would be more desirable if we moved out. We have a lot of clutter and toys and it is hard to always keep the home neat. It seems that potential buyers come and like the home but we don't get any offers. What should we do?

A - Given your circumstances, I can understand your thought process.  Buyers are often distracted by a cluttered home.  If you find it difficult to keep it neat (and that is very understandable given your situation), then you should give serious thought to moving to your new residence.  It will not only make showings go more smoothly, but it will remove the burden on you from cleaning up and preparing for showings. 

If you have a real estate question for Dottie, please send it to;

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