“Powell Doctrine” vs. “Kaplan Doctrine”

Military action should be used only as a last resort.  However, when it is used, it should be overwhelming and disproportionate to the force used by the enemy.

–Powell Doctrine (my paraphrase)

Buyers who have serious interest in a home should stay off the listing agent’s radar until such time as they have completed their due diligence and are ready to make an offer.   Then, they should start negotiations by submitting a strong offer that they don’t telegraph in advance.

–Kaplan Real Estate Doctrine

In 10 years of selling real estate, I literally can’t recall how many times a Buyer’s agent has told me, as a listing agent representing the Seller, that the Buyer is interested, but isn’t ready to do anything at the moment, and wants to be “kept in the loop” regarding the home’s status.

Here’s what a good, experienced agent hears instead:

“Please feel free to use my client as leverage to elicit an offer from another Buyer, stir up multiple offers from other fence sitters, or otherwise use that info as you see fit to drive up the home’s eventual sales price.”

Dumb Statement #2

Invariably, the same Buyers’ agents — if their clients actually progress to making an offer — will call the listing agent to pre-announce their client’ s intentions, and tell them to expect something in 24 or 48 hours.

Want to guess what a good listing agent does with that information?

Contact any serious prospects and let them know something’s cooking.

So, what should the Buyer’s agent advise their client?

I don’t know about other agents, but here’s what my clients hear from me:

“Once you’ve learned the market and find a home you really like — it meets your needs, it’s well-priced, shows well, etc. — move as expeditiously as you can to buy it.

If instead you wait for one (or more) Buyers to show up, you risk:  a) having the property sell without your knowledge, notwithstanding anything the listing agent promised or didn’t promise to tell me; and/or b) having to pay more than you would have before competition for the home materialized — assuming, of course, the Seller decides to work with your offer rather another Buyer’s.

Obviously, once I engage with the listing agent in my capacity as the Buyer’s Realtor, I want to know what’s going on with the property, how fast the Seller can respond to my client’s offer, etc., etc.

But, that conversation happens just before I have my client’s offer in hand, or even after — not days in advance.

It’s funny how, if you leave the door open for other Buyers . . . they just may walk through it.

P.S.:  Show me a home where four or more Buyers are circling, and I’ll show you a home that’s headed for multiple offers (at least if the listing agent knows what they’re doing).

P.P.S.:  one of my favorite cartoons (New Yorker?) shows a couple vultures sitting in a tree, bored.

The caption:  one of the vultures says to the others, “to hell with all this waiting around . . . let’s go kill something!”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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