After looking at a house, our agent called the next day to say "someone is putting in an offer" as they are also the listing agency. How do I know if there's actually an offer or if they're trying to force us into making a higher offer since they won't disclose anything about the other offer?
This is a tough one. Often homes receive multiple offers. Often they don't receive another offer until you've made your offer and often there is absolutely no way of knowing. If you represent the seller your job is to get the best net return to the seller amoung other things. If you represent the buyer your job is to help them get into the home of their dreams for as little as possible amoung other things. As having represented many buyers, I've developed relationships with other Realtors mostly because it takes alot of pre-offer work and post-offer follow up. You absolutely have to stay in touch with all parties to determine whether the information you have is the most current information available and that the information is trustworthy. Professionalism is paramount.
However, the answer to your question is there is really no way of telling. The misconception exists that if the buyer does business with the listing agent they will get an offer accepted, get a better deal, get a cheaper deal etc. but the listing agents job negates this as their primary responsibility as the listing agent is to get the most amount of money possible for the seller.
When my clients are presented with this scenario I simply scour various sources to determine where the buyers offer is market competitive. If your financing a transaction you cannot obtain a loan on an over inflated sales price. Some contracts require that if you offer higher than list you pay the difference in cash to the seller because it probably won't appraise. The next thing I advise is "what is the price you are most comfortable paying in order to obtain the home" and if you do lose out to another bidder "what is the price you would not go over no matter what" so that you are comfortable in either scenario. There are no guarantees so do what is most reasonable and comfortable for you after you ask your Realtor to check comparison sales for you. Best of Luck, Happy Home Hunting and the Right One will sweep you off your feet!
The fact that someone else is putting in an offer is *NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! Pretend they didn't say that. You don't know about any other offers. Have your Buyers Agent do the comps on the property, establish fair market value and make your best offer based on the value of the home. Ignore what the rest of the world is saying or doing. Don't get sucked in to a bidding war. Do listing agents lie about competing offers? Yes, of course they do. I get lied to by listing agents all the time. When they pull me aside an tell me about another offer, I shut up about it and I don't even tell my buyers. I am an Accredited Buyers Agent and other offers are none of my business either.