What Does it Mean to Fish An Offer in Real Estate

Real Estate Agent Eric Andrews explains that “fishing an offer” is when a seller of real estate, or their listing agent, uses a buyer’s pending offer which has yet yo be accepted to induce action from other buyers. Fishing an offer can work in very hot markets where there are likely to be multiple offers made on the same property, however, there are risks involved and not all real estate agents approve of fishing offers.

Speaker 1:           What does it mean to fish an offer?

Speaker 2:           Fish an offer. So this is very controversial and there’s certainly certain rules that we need to follow. But fishing an offer means that an agent or a seller has an actual offer in hand. They haven’t accepted that offer. And they’re using having that offer in hand as an opportunity to get people off the fence. So they’ll say, “Got this offer for 230 on a 250 house.” And they would call people and say, “I got another offer in hand.” You had an agent or you as the buyer were interested in the property. And if you were at all interested, now’s the time to submit, because there’s already this other offer. It does have its perils. There are times when you can be in a multiple offer situation and we have to treat all parties equally. So it is up to the seller.

The seller can choose to not disclose that they have other offers. They don’t have to disclose that there are other offers, or they can choose to disclose that there’s other offers. Often an agent will call and say, “Do you have any offers on the table right now?” And when I respond with, “I don’t have seller’s permission to disclose that.” That sometimes puts off the other agent, but that’s actually the rule. That’s actually what we’re supposed to do. There have been times, and I warned sellers of this. We have an offer in hand. Two other people say they’re going to make an offer. And we tell people we want the highest and best when you submit your offers. And I’ve been in situations where I’ve had agents in our firm, not only do those other two people not make an offer, but the third person retracts their offer because they don’t want to be in a competing offer situation.

So it doesn’t always work to the seller’s advantage to say, “I got so many people interested in this house.” Not everybody likes to be in a competitive situation. So fishing an offer means that the agent or the seller is using this offer to create more action. You better be aware of your market. If it’s a really, really hot property, you can say, we’re going to show this house for two more days, and we want all your offers in by Sunday at 5:00. That’s okay to do if it really is a hot property and you’re getting a lot of showings, but it’s not … I frown upon on agents and I don’t do it myself where we say, “Hey, this offer’s come in. What do you want to do?” It’s not something that I feel is though is ethical, and it can backfire on the seller.