MULTIPLE OFFERS STILL GOING ON
Bad press has scared some people off in these situations. But a good agent can protect your interests. First the agent will find out exactly how many offers are registered before you make your offer. Bigger brokerages have their own policy about registration and dealing with multiple offers. In any multiple offer situation, all offers should be presented in person where possible. When you and your agent show up, you will know exactly how many parties you are competing against. If the listing agent has their own offer, it should be presented first. In that way they can not change their offer after viewing the other offers on behalf of the seller.
A great strategy for a buyer is to prepare three different front pages with the offer - each with a different price. The first if you are the only buyer - people do drop out at the last moment - which should be close or at the list price. The second page, for when there is just one other buyer or two in competition with you, would have a price of $5,000 - give or take - above the list price. The third page is the maximum price you would pay, and if someone else offered a $1,000 more, you would not be upset at losing out. This third page should only be used when there are at least three and probably more buyers involved in the bidding.
What happens when the listing agent says that the seller is an out-of-country owner? The listing agent should invite everyone to their office and you should fax the offers together. That way you can see how many actual buyers show up and again adjust your strategies accordingly.
Multiple Offers don't have to be terrifying. Get a good agent and you will be fine. And yes, there will be multiple offers on condos in the upcoming spring market.