When a prospective buyer suggests, “Let’s just pass this verbal offer by the builder and see what he says”, don’t even hesitate. If a buyer is interested enough to negotiate on a new home, he should be prepared to write a deposit check and sign an offer. Anything less is just conversation, a game of “What If…?”
Rather than waste your time—and the builder’s—indulging in such fruitless efforts, continue probing your new homebuyer to determine exactly what he is hoping to achieve. What does he really want in his new home? What concerns are holding him back? Then address them, one at a time, until he is comfortable enough to pursue the negotiation and commit to a written offer.
It’s fair and reasonable to communicate to a buyer that an offer has no value if it is not properly presented. Without a written agreement and deposit check, there is nothing to present. A verbal agreement doesn’t protect the buyer or the builder.
The next time you encounter this situation, simply respond to your buyer, “I understand that buying a new home is an important step. But if you truly want to move forward, we need to show the builder that you are serious enough to make a formal offer. Without the paperwork, there really is no offer to be considered. We do this to protect and respect everyone involved, including you. So, if you’re seriously interested in this home, let’s proceed with the paperwork.”
Talk is cheap. Stick to the rule of not accepting or conveying verbal offers. When you allow your buyer to change the rules of negotiation, you yield control of the negotiation.