I mentioned the cash offer we made on Saturday on behalf of buyers hoping to purchase a home in Carlsbad. It finally came to a conclusion last night.
It went the same way all of the other multiple-offer situations have gone:
It dragged on for days.
Little or no communication.
No transparency about the process or how a buyer will be selected.
No open bidding.
After a day of being kept in the dark, I suggested to my buyers that we should improve our offer and just hope for the best. We submitted a new offer above the list price, 14-day closing, and free 30-day rentback. A worthy offer!
I got the call late yesterday – Sorry, we’ve gone in a different direction.
I appreciated the call because they usually come by text so the listing agent doesn’t have to offer any explanations. Because I had the agent on the phone, I pleaded with him to give me the winning sales price, which he did.
When I told my buyer about the winning bid, he said,
“I would have paid that.”
“IN FACT, I WOULD HAVE PAID MORE THAN THAT.”
It’s not just about treating all buyers and buyer-agents fairly (part of the Code of Ethics).
It’s about LEAVING MONEY ON THE TABLE, which is happening everywhere because listing agents are too lazy or inexperienced to conduct a proper bidding war. Even if you don’t have the guts to do open bidding like I do, then at least give every buyer a chance to make their highest-and-best offer, which used to be the standard up until this year.
Now, the listing agents only worry about grabbing their favorite offer, and going back to sleep.
You say ‘full transparency’ and blah, blah, Jim – what do you mean? What happened? Give us the dets!!
We received two cash offers during the open house on Saturday, one from the first people who saw it on Friday, and the other from a buyer who attended the open house – which was a quick turnaround because I told her that we already had a cash offer.
Each buyer had their own agent, and the terms were similar. It was going to come down to price.
They are called ‘bidding wars’ in this business, but the way the vast majority of agents handle them, it’s really just a collection of offers. The listing agent might use a spreadsheet to organize them, but in the end, they are presented to the sellers who then just picks a winner – usually after the listing agent chimes in with their preference.
It’s not right that the listing agents get to play God and decide the outcome. I want the market to decide it, because that’s what is fair to all buyers, all buyer-agents, and especially the sellers.
Plus, I don’t want to delay the outcome for hours or days and risk that the buyers might cool off – which is what usually happens as listing agents let days go by after their first offer is received, thinking it might get better, later.
I started my bidding war as soon as I got in my car to leave the open house.
I called the agent for the first buyer and told him he’d been outbid, THEN I TOLD HIM BY HOW MUCH, and asked if he wanted to go higher.
He called back in ten minutes with his new bid.
I went back to the agent for the second buyer and told her that SHE HAD BEEN OUTBID BY X AMOUNT, and asked if they wanted to improve their offer.
My slow-motion auction lasted until one of the buyers ran out of gas about 90 minutes later.
It worked great, and maybe even better than a live auction because bidders don’t feel rushed to make an instant decision. They were able to confer with their agent and make a deliberate new bid.
Both buyers had a fair and clear chance to purchase the home, which is missing with the Offer Collection method. When listing agents just pick their favorite offer, instead of requesting higher bids, it leaves money on the table and it makes the remaining buyers wonder what happened – most of which would have made a better offer, if they were only given the chance.
Nicolas Berggruen, a real estate investor who earned the moniker “homeless billionaire” through his jet-setting lifestyle and lack of a permanent address, just shelled out $63.1 million for the Hearst estate in Beverly Hills, winning the prized property in a bankruptcy auction that was more competitive than some expected.
The co-founder of the Berggruen Institute think tank beat out five other bidders at the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday in a heated auction that lasted around 45 minutes.
Twenty-four people — the bidders along with attorneys and agents — crowded into the courtroom, and a few others watched the action on a monitor in an overflow room, said Anthony Marguleas of Amalfi Estates, who held the listing on the estate.
The bidding began at $48 million — $1 million more than Berggruen’s original offer, which was accepted by the seller, attorney Leonard Ross, in August. The accepted offer triggered a Chapter 7 bankruptcy sale through auction, the proceeds of which will go toward paying off the roughly $50-million debt Ross has accumulated on the property after years of failing to sell the home.
With bids increasing in $100,000 increments, all but two bidders dropped out around the $52-million mark: Berggruen and MBRG Investors, a West Hollywood real estate investment company, records show.
Berrgruen’s winning bid of $63.1 million is the most ever paid for a home at an auction, beating out an Italian-inspired mansion in Beverly Park that sold for $51 million this year.
It’s a record-setting sale, but still far shy of the $195 million Ross originally wanted for the property . He set the ambitious price tag after the Playboy Mansion sold for $100 million in 2016, but years of relists and price cuts brought it down to $69.95 million earlier this year.
Like William Randolph Hearst’s other home — the famous castle in San Simeon — the Beverly Hills Hearst estate’s reputation precedes it.
In addition to being tied to the newspaper magnate, it was also said to be the honeymoon spot for President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy in the 1950s. Its myriad film credits include “The Godfather” and “The Bodyguard,” as well as Beyoncé’s 2020 visual album “Black Is King.”
Built in 1926, the salmon-colored showplace was designed by Gordon Kaufmann, the prolific architect behind the Hoover Dam, Greystone Mansion and the Hollywood Palladium. He designed it for banker Milton Getz.
The 29,000-square-foot Mediterranean mansion captures the spirit of Old Hollywood glitz and glamour with 22-foot-high hand-painted ceilings, a two-story paneled library, two screening rooms and an Art Deco nightclub with a bar salvaged from Hugh Hefner’s now-defunct nightclub Touch. In the billiards room is a stone fireplace moved down from Hearst Castle.
Elsewhere are nine bedrooms, 15 bathrooms and grand public spaces with room for 1,000 guests. The 3.5-acre compound also includes two guest apartments, a pool house, tennis pavilion and five-bedroom gatehouse set among terraces, lawns, waterfalls and an Olympic-size pool lighted by vintage lampposts.
“You can’t build a house this big in Beverly Hills anymore, and getting 3.5 acres is very rare,” listing agent Gary Gold of Hilton & Hyland told The Times in August.
Since the property surfaced for sale in April for $89.75 million, there were 71 inquiries, 41 private showings and 12 written offers. Marguleas and Gold held the listing with Zizi Pak and John Gould of Rodeo Realty.
Berggruen, who was born in France, founded his private investment company Berggruen Holdings in 1984 and also created the independent think tank Berggruen Institute in 2010.
No stranger to Southern California real estate, he bought 450 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains in 2015 with the goal of building a headquarters for the think tank. Forbes puts his net worth at $1.7 billion.
The institute annually awards a $1-million prize “for major achievements in advancing ideas that shape the world.”
The estate is the latest prized property to hit the auction block because of bankruptcy. The owners of the Mountain, a 157-acre parcel in Beverly Hills touted as the city’s finest piece of undeveloped land, racked up a $200-million debt on the property, which led to it being sold for $100,000 at a foreclosure auction in Pomona.
Two more high-profile bankruptcy sales are coming from Bel-Air.
Bids are being accepted through Sept. 27 for Mohamed Hadid’s infamous hillside home , which was ordered to be torn down by a judge who declared the 30,000-square-foot mansion a “danger to the public.” Proceeds of the sale will go toward the home’s destruction, and the winning bidder will get the raw land.
Just across the hill from Hadid’s place, Nile Niami faces a debt of more than $110 million on “The One,” a 100,000-square-foot mega- mansion that he’s been trying to sell for $500 million. A court-appointed receiver is preparing it for sale.
Two years ago, the National Association of Realtors began the Clear Cooperation Policy, a directive that compels agents to submit their listings to the MLS within one business day after any public marketing.
It was an attempt to quell off-market sales, but Glenn says that it’s done the opposite.
Specifically, because the CCP allows brokerages to have ‘Office Exclusives’, he asserts that more companies are withholding their listings from the MLS and selling them in-house without any attempt to include outside agents or buyers.
Rob and Sam, two industry titans, conducted a livestream discussion to see what else can be done.
Rob has the likely solution – that any agent who wants to exclude their listing from the MLS will need to get a signed waiver from the MLS committee to do so.
Yes, it has come to that – agents can’t be trusted to play by the rules, and will need a permission slip from the principal to officially withhold a listing from the MLS.
But it gets worse – I left a bomb in the comment section here:
The industry has been abuzz over Zillow buying ShowingTime, our appointment-scheduling service.
Wouldn’t it be great if Zillow published the number of showings publicly? The intel that could be gathered would be of great interest to buyers, and help enhance the home-selling transparency.
The data is already available.
Buyer-agents who book their appointments to show on the ShowingTime mobile app can see the whole schedule of times already reserved by other agents. It also makes you wonder if listing agents are reserving a bunch of times to make their listing look more popular (no names or other info is given on the app).
If buyers knew how many showings were scheduled, it would help them decide how much to offer.
Same with the number of offers.
The trend is to do less for buyers, so when asked, most listing agents won’t discuss how many offers they’ve received – and they certainly won’t divulge the offer prices.
But they should.
It would give other buyers a number to shoot at, and that transparency alone makes them more likely to hit it, or even offer more. It’s an old wives’ tale that you can’t divulge – the opposite is stated in the contract:
Another benefit of divulging the number of offers and their terms is you quickly eliminate the non-players. Most buyers are comfortable offering the list price, and +/- 5%, so why not just tell them that you have an offer that is 12% over list and save them the trouble – and save the listing agent from having to process another offer that’s going nowhere.
You can then concentrate on having the real players compete against one another.
With no real surge in inventory (yet), we are entering the hyper-frenzy phase now.
It’s an environment where most listing agents are ill-equipped to handle the pressure because they’ve never done this before. The only time we’ve been close to having insanity like this was at the bottom in 2009 when the bank-owned properties were getting 10-30 offers on every property.
How many REO listing agents are left, besides me? Yep, I can’t think of any either.
As a result, sellers are leaving money on the table all over the county. Why? Because inexperienced agents get inundated with requests and offers, and instead of handling them professionally, they just shut it down instead. Examples from this week:
They stop answering the phone, or returning calls/texts.
They direct you to automated services.
They mark the listing as pending or withdrawn before accepting an offer.
They accept an offer before showing appointments are completed.
Basically, they blow you off.
While they may think that it is their prerogative, they aren’t upholding their fiduciary duty to their seller by limiting the showings. Furthermore, they have an obligation to their fellow agents to allow them the opportunity to sell the listing. Yes, broker cooperation includes letting every agent have a chance to sell your listing – it’s how the system works. You sell my listings, and I sell yours.
It’s gotten so bad that another agent was joking with me that when he sees a hot new listing come up, he just books the first appointment available, and then looks for a buyer.
If we are going to abandon the traditions, let’s take it a step further to solve all the problems at once.
There have been misguided attempts previously that have probably sent us backwards, so there’s work to do to convince people. But auctions are the answer.
Conducting a live auction where all participants can witness the process (to keep it honest), and let the transparency drive the Fear Of Losing is the most effective way to get buyers to pay top dollar.
Will the jacked-up Covid-19 era finally cause auctions to emerge as the answer?
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – this one worked great:
Will auctions be implemented by the old guard? It’s doubtful. While the hottest bidding wars are primarily on the lower-end properties (under $2,000,000), we can learn a lot from an auction company who only works the higher-end. They have a designated showing period where buyers are welcome to tour the home with their inspectors, then attend the live auction where a lucky bidder will likely buy a house that day.
Think of their benefits:
Showing dates and times arranged in advance.
Day of sale (Auction date) set in advance
10% commissions (known as ‘premiums’ which sounds friendlier)
Commissions are PAID BY BUYER and tacked onto the winning bid.
Sellers and agents will love that program, and we’ve already seen buyers be ready, willing, and able to pay 10%+ over list price these days – so they end up in the same place anyway.
The industry should convert to this auction format today and solve everything!
Hat tip to Susie who sent in this article about a law recently passed in California:
The new rules apply to one- to four-unit properties sold at foreclosure auctions. If an investor wins one of those homes at auction, then people who want to live in it, as well as nonprofit organizations and government entities, get 45 days to submit competing offers.
If the home is a rental, the tenants living there could win by matching the investor’s offer. Other would-be buyers must offer more than the investor.
Known as SB 1079, the law takes effect Jan. 1, 2021.
State Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), the bill’s author, said her goal was to make it easier for individuals and affordable-housing groups to compete with investors.
“Homeownership is the primary way people have to build up generational wealth,” she said. “When we have rules that give advantage to a corporation, then that dream is just not available.”
The manager of the foreclosure auction is required to maintain a website that details the highest bid at the auction and how to submit competing offers.
I don’t know how many amateurs will be paying more than investors for homes sight unseen, and without proper title searches for additional liens. But there will be a few!
It was the last paragraph that was the most intriguing.
The State of California has institutionalized transparency!
Making the highest bid known to the public could revolutionize our business. Can you imagine if Zillow ran a website that openly tracked the offers on their homes for sale – buyers would love the transparency! Then every brokerage would be pressured into doing the same, and boom – no more agent shenanigans!
Are you thinking of selling?
Transparency can help ignite a bidding war, and get buyers to bid up the price because it becomes more about winning, then getting a deal. It’s how I handle my listings – let’s talk about how I can help you!
Here’s the classic courthouse-steps example of how auctions help to drive up the price: