Your buyer saw a listing online they love, you’ve visited the property, and you’re ready to make an offer.

The property they love is a Real Estate Owned (REO) property. Bank-owned properties deserve the attention a retail offer requires … and then some.

First Impressions Matter
You are a real estate agent, and in this example, your responsibility is to your buyer. How do you best portray their offer? Strive to communicate in a simple, clear manner. This may not seem the first answer you’d expect, but it is the job you are tasked with. When you send an organized, complete offer package to a listing agent, your offer will naturally rise in the pile. The Listing agent will be grateful you’ve taken the time to show you are a professional. The bank or servicer will be happy with the speed of execution. Bottom line is you will close more deals.

English + Math
You need nothing more than middle school language and math skills and some tender-loving care to get this job done well. It’s not rocket science! Proof your offer … make sure the math makes sense. Summarize how the monies are seasoned with corresponding documents. You are telling a story of your client’s motivation and ability. Make it understandable and easy for everyone reading your offer. Type your offer, provide clear terms, include back-up documents, use consistent formats and language.

Show Me the Money
If your offer is cash, include proof of funds (POF) that are recent. Usually, that means dated in the last 30 days. You’re proving to the listing agent (and then the bank) that your client is ready, willing and able to perform. A pre-qualification should clearly show the type of financing, how much, the type (conventional, FHA, renovation, private money), and that the lender has vetted your client. Please do your homework, review the home that your buyers want to buy. Some REO servicers can make repairs and may readily accept conventional or even FHA without conditions. However, many times the property will require more work than the financing can allow or the seller is willing (or restricted) to perform. For example, financing FHA won’t work on a fixer-upper if the fixes are large components such as a roof or HVAC system.

Usually, an earnest money deposit (EMD) is required. The listing agent will have instructions on how to prepare this. Is it a copy of a certified check? Is it a personal check? Who is it made out to? The closing company? The listing broker escrow account?

Read the Fine Print
Sometimes the listing agent will have MLS language that points your offer submission to a portal, a website that can collect your offer data. Please be diligent in every direction they make. If you cut corners (by uploading an inferior or incomplete document), your client’s offer will be hurt. Is that fulfilling your fiduciary responsibility?

Be sure documents match. The name on the offer should be the same as the name on the POF or pre-qualification. That name should match the purchase and sale agreement. If a corporation (including LLC) is buying the property, include a copy of the articles of incorporation that shows the name of your signer. This is important for clear title. Your information dictates how a property will be conveyed. Many REO properties already have wrinkles in their title, and they have to work like mad to clear them before the closing date. Mis-matches slow everything down. Sometimes it will slow things down enough to have another agent’s offer slip in ahead of yours.

Who Are You Selling to?
When you send a communication, what are you saying? Who are you representing? You should be able to send a message that is clear enough that there are no questions asked. The person you email should be able to forward your message without a footnote. By the way, sending this “clear message” many times becomes an extra piece of marketing for yourself and your brokerage as it travels. Imagine if your email was forwarded directly—would you be embarrassed?

People involved in your communication stream:
• your broker
• listing agent
• listing agent’s broker
• asset manager
• senior asset manager
• seller closing department/title company
• your client’s bank/lender
• buyers attorney
• your client!

Communication Is the Responsibility of the Sender
They say 80 percent of our time at work is spent communicating. You want to do more deals? Increase your velocity. That means you’ll close more transactions in a given year. The only way that happens is if the messaging during a deal is clear and concise. Each touch is a source of friction. What we mean is that every transfer of information has the potential of slowing the whole process down. An agent’s job is to carry messages to and fro. The more efficiently this happens, the more satisfied customers you will have, not to mention your broker will be happier and your bank account fuller.

Send offers that are vetted and typed in clear language; you will gain respect from the listing agent.
Spell check your document. Proof your offer. Reproof it. Have an agent that sits near you next desk proofread the offer, maybe even out loud. The listing agent will know you are organized and that you will perform. You’re working at a higher level for your client.

When you present a future client’s offer, it may get moved higher in the food chain. When you help someone with their job, they are appreciative. It’s the principle of reciprocity. Present your offer in a way that makes the hand-off easy for the listing agent. REO agents are busy organizing these communications and will be grateful that you’ve saved them some minutes in a day. Be responsive if they reach to you and make quick adjustments. Remember the idea of velocity. This “modern” thinking will make you a superstar.

Remember that anyone along the communication trail may be considered a “target” of your message and your buyer-client will benefit by you presenting their offer in the best light. All communications are vertical. Simply, represent. Five extra minutes spent reviewing your client’s offer package before you hit “send“ will help you make friends and influence people. And it will make you more money.

Steven Rivkin
REO Broker, Planet Realty LLC
New Haven, Connecticut