Using phantom bids to your advantage

This idea came to me on another thread.

Anyone ever tried to turn the tide on EAs?

Obviously we are in very shaky ground ethically speaking.

Not for buying but did something similar when renting.

Put an ad in the local paper looking for a rental, got loads of replies, even landlords asking me straight out if I’d be interested in buying etc.

It was great to have all the power for a change, we ended up with a beautiful unfurnished house which we could paint as we pleased (LL payed for paint), twice the floor space of out previous rental for 20% less and and best of all we never saw the LL from the time we entered till the time we left, we even got our deposit back before we’d even tidied it out. Any problems were paid for by taking it out of the rent, they were happy with us just sending the receipts.

It did take a while of viewing the dross before we found what we liked but the best bit without doubt was walking into viewings with all the power. We’d cooly look around and not make any comment which made the LLs nervous, eventually they’d say “so are you interested, you can move in straight away” and then we’d say “thanks but we have other properties to view later but thanks very much and we’ll be in contact to let you know”.
The desperate LLs were ringing us for months afterwards!

My attitude is use whatever leverage you have or more importantly they think you have to get what you want; diplomacy is the art of letting other people have your way!

I say use a phantom lower bid to get the EA to settle on your price but then withdraw your offer and let the EA chase mr P Hantom, wait a while and if the EA comes back then just offer less than Mr P Hantom. Do this with a few EAs and a few different properties you’re happy with and eventually one will bite. If the EA doesn’t chase either you or your phantom bidder friends then you’ve established that the EA is a time waster and is best avoided.

The single most important thing is to give nothing away, concede nothing. You might like a house but tell the EA you’ve seen plenty of nice houses, even tell him you’re thinking of emigrating but if the you saw the right house for the right price you just take the plunge and stay in Ireland. They can’t feel they’ve got all the power if you intimate that they may never see your cash. Make the ones who want it fight for it.

One other thing, always smile and be respectful; you get further with honey.

I wouldn’t worry about ethics in a unregulated market, just don’t be impolite. If the market has no standards then you’ve only yourself to let down.

A strategy that works well when there is plenty of choice.

However when no LL replies to your ad and every viewing you attend is full of other people perhaps a different course of action is required.

Thing is, any bids are being ‘processed’ by the estate agent. Especially if it is a house in an area where there are not many bids at all.
The EA might be working the seller as much as the buyer. If the EA gets a firm offer s/he knows is a decent enough one, are they themselves not throwing a few lower offers/phantom bids to the seller…
So person makes an offer of 225k Monday morning, EA rings Seller telling them they got an offer of 198k offer that day, but they think they can get more out of the bidder, test the waters with the seller. Then rings Seller Tues to say we got them up to 210k, how do you feel about that? Seller says no way no way. Then Friday, EA rings Seller to say we got 225k out of them. Suddenly the 225k is sounding a lot better than the original 198k, and the EA is looking like a great negotiator. If its still no way then EA goes back to bidder the following Monday to say no. That’s why it took a week to get back to the bidder…

I like your version of EAs better than how I picture them.

I will be buying in Cork so not too many buyers out there, compared to Dublin anyway.

Making seller expectations realistic would be key.

So far my only foray into the Cork market has been to email a few EAs off Daft wondering can they actually put up some picture of the inside of the house and not just the outside and front garden!

Surprise surprise, not a single reply. FFS. Takes two minutes to attached some pictures to an email.

Do they do drive-by snaps of a house on their way home or what!

This has driven me nuts a few time as well, why not take the time to dropn a quick line to the address of the house saying you WERE interested in viewing, tried to contact the agent for photos and no reposnse. If it was my house with an agent like that I would be none too happy at the bad service.

Putting the best possible spin on it, it might just be a question of sales qualification. I know that some car salesman refuse to answer e-mails on the basis that the vast majority are tyre kickers and that serious buyers ring or turn up in person.

EA’s primary concern is closing a sale rather than the difference in their commission on a €220k sale versus a €230k. They absolutely must keep the sellers expectations realistic. Turning over stock attracts new clients and more transactions and commission cheques. Lingering stock puts off both buyers and sellers.

The EA will ask for a scan of the bank letter approval offer before accepting any offer. It’s to weed out anything like this.

You would need some dedicated friends to go view the place, establish that they are serious buyers with the agent and then put in offers.

Simply ringing up and saying “Hi I am J Smith and I wish to offer X for that property” is probably not going to cut much ice. The agent would expect to have their contact details from a viewing etc.

Had a few offers accepted recently without having any EA mention this or ask me for it.


It might work if there was no other serious bidders interested enough to beat your bid by 1k.
But then, if there is no other interested bidder have you not just beaten your friend’s phantom bid by 15k for no reason. You could have beaten your friend’s bid by 1k and saved yourself 14k.
Even better, if you hadn’t gotten your friend to put in a phantom bid you could have bid that low yourself. Surely the seller would be more than a little nervous if only 1 person was interested enough to make an offer. Would phantom bidders, even a very low levels, not give the seller the impression that there could be several people interested in the property and that they may get more if they hang on a bit longer?

I spent a good few months last year looking at houses around Cork and asked an EA that very question (why no interior pics). His very candid answer was that if there are no pictures of the inside it’s because they feel they would just scare any punters away whereas if they get you in for a viewing at least some progress has been made.

One can whack up a fake sample offer letter from any bank very quickly in Word, which can be photocopied. As you say, if you black out the offer who is to know the difference ?

It’d make you question the sincerity of some sellers rather than the agents, in fairness.
What is there to hide or be coy about behind those doors?
Might tempt the curious I suppose!

I’ve had no luck with the local building control officer - not even a reply - anyone know who’s next up the food chain?

Just because some EAs use dishonest tricks, doesn’t mean you should stoop to their level.

Say what you are prepared to pay and be ready if necessary to walk away.