Unusual, perhaps benign, behavior from agent – WA state

I've been working with this agent for about six months now, and like him. He has this odd habit that I just can't figure out, and was hoping someone could clue me in on. In short, he and I will talk about which price to include in an offer, we'll settle on one that's lower than I suggested, we'll make the offer, he'll check in with the seller's agent after a while, and then he'll finally come back to me to ask if I want to increase the offer.

The first few times were really similar to the description above. Both times I agreed to go with an increase in the offer, but after the second time my guard was up. I like the guy a lot, but you never know.

For the next few offers after that, we used an escalation clause, to no avail.

Now comes today, the third time. This time is unusual, because the seller does not have an agent. I decide to still use an agent because this is my first time, and the seller is an attorney who's pretty savvy at this stuff; it's the fourth house she's sold on her own. Because there's no selling agent, my agent and I decide we'll structure the offer so that he ends up with $5000, no more, no less. The seller, strangely, insists on doing the offer through text messaging, and my agent explains he doesn't think an escalation clause is well-suited for this medium.

My agent and I talk things over – $385,000, or $390,000 for the offer? Maybe something in between? I'm leaning towards $390,000, he talks me into $385,000; fine, he's the professional, and this could save me $5000. We make the offer. He checks in with her after a few hours, she says it's a really good offer but she's expecting a few more to come in before she makes her decision tonight. So he texts me to tell me all this, and asks if I want to increase the offer to $388,000.

Now, this puzzles me. There's no obvious reason to me why he would have any personal interest in me paying a higher price, since he's getting the same amount no matter the sale price. But if he thought this was the best price to offer, why didn't he say that before? And what's with this pattern of him talking to the other party and then suggesting I increase my offer?

It's my understanding that the selling agent (if there was one in this circumstance) would not be legally able to tell a buying agent where the pool of offers stands. (In fact, he's told me as much in the past.) But I suppose it's normal to say things like "your offer is really good" or "there are more attractive offers in front of us". In this instance, there's no selling agent, so I'm not sure how that changes things, but she's an attorney who has sold her own home a few times before so it's probably not a lost fact on her.

Is "I'm expecting a few more offers" code from her along these lines – and he can't be straight-forward with me that this is code from her to increase the offer, because it would show he was willingly cooperating with her to break this regulation?

Or is this some sort of tactic he's adopted throughout his years, where he has a client make a second offer on the belief that it get the seller's attention? Or did he take a shower and think to himself, "Damn, I should've told my client to make a slightly higher offer than I initially recommended?"

It's happened three times now, so I'm having a hard time believing it's just a coincidence. And why should I change an offer that the seller has called "really good"?

I asked him what changed his mind on the best price to offer, and he said "I just wouldn't want you to lose the house over a couple thousands bucks." That would be a good response if it was my idea to offer $385,000, but it wasn't; it was his idea.

tl;dr: Agent has asked me to increase my offer for vague reasons on three different occasions, and I can't figure out why.

More real estate tips at Program Realty Wix site

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