Lately, it seems my buyer clients want to know if a seller will accept an offer... even when they have not made an offer.
That is, my buyers have not sat with me and formulated a written offer for purchase. In Chicago, with many properties and many people out there looking, selling agents want to see a written offer that is realistic before they negotiate their bottom line. Sure, some things are verbalized up-front. And sure, a couple good agents may talk things through to a deal before pen hits the contract. But most of the time, it is customary to write the offer first asking for your needs. (Legally, all offers must be written for the seller to honor them).
This is okay. I put it this way to my buyers. If you like the place after seing the many others... by writing an offer, thereby showing that you are a serious buyer with all your ducks in a row, the seller will begin to negotiate seriously. If it's verbal, they may feel you're fishing for a deal without serious intention.
The written offer is a package put together outlining your needs in the deal. There is no obligation, even if the offer is accepted right away. This is because there are contingencies written into the contract that must be met in the future before you're "buying the place".
After you have met with the mortgage broker or bank you will work with for financing... after you have decided the price point and location... after you have visited the property a couple times and determined what your willing to pay... then you write an offer. If you're serious enough to do all these steps and take the time to "write", then the seller will engage more time and energy to make the deal happen.
Look, it's a confidence game. Sellers want to be confident they are not getting jerked around. And, if you put a professional, written deal in front of a seller... you are more likely to get a better deal then fishing with verbal barbs.