Within a month of putting her two-bedroom house in San Francisco on the market recently, homeowner Linda Gao had five offers, each one above her asking price of $699,000. So before accepting the most-attractive bid, she threw in an extra condition: If you want to buy my house, you have to feed the squirrels.
The sellers, Robert Mode and his wife, Lisa, say that because they had more than one bidder, they could afford to weigh factors besides the final price. Mr. Mode, a 42-year-old salesman, says he wanted to be a good neighbor to the end, leaving his home of six years in good hands. “We’d have a neighborhood cookout every six months. Sometimes, I’d be mowing my lawn, and people I never met before would wave. It made you feel like you were part of something bigger than yourself,” he says. “I had a moral responsibility to my neighbors to pick the best buyer.” (The Modes accepted Ms. Love’s offer, which was $6,100 above the asking price but $2,000 below the highest bid.)
This article was published in the WSJ last week but is now free on the Realestatejournal. (update: now it’s gone) I have written about this aspect of the offer process before; I always try to write a letter presenting my people – who they are, kids, what they do, why they are moving, etc. in an effort to humanize the process. Anything to attempt to mitigate the greed that is so prevalent in this market. Sometimes a letter does work and the Seller is content with making $90k in three years instead of $93k.