With an improving economy and a relatively benign interest rate environment, home sellers in many real estate markets are enjoying multiple offers and frequently selling their home for more than the listing price. For buyers, such an environment can be very stressful and disheartening as you see home after home get sold to other buyers. Not only is your future home riding on the outcome, but there are so many variables that determine whether your offer is the winner. So how can you make your offer stand out against the others and improve your chances?
In this article, we will explain how to increase the odds of your offer being accepted so you can win the bidding war and get the home you really want.
1. Compare recent sales in order to predict a winning offer
It always helps to go in with as much information as possible. If you expect a home to attract multiple offers, research recent home sales in the neighborhood. Try to understand whether nearby homes have sold above their list price – and if so, how much above it? If you learn that homes have been selling at a 10% premium above their list price, then you can adjust your offer accordingly. The more closely you can predict the final sale price of the home, the more likely you will be to make the winning bid.
Talk to your real estate agent as well. They will likely know whether the home you want will require an offer over the list price. And they can help you craft your offer to optimize your chances.
2. Impress the seller with your financial status
Submitting a pre-approval letter from a lender when you make an offer has become standard, so enhance your profile as a financially sound buyer by submitting additional information about your finances. In other words, submit more evidence that shows you are likely to be approved for the mortgage. Sellers need assurance that your financing will be approved, because if it is not approved they will have to re-list the home, resulting in a huge hassle for them and possibly a lower sale price.
What extra information should you include? You can start with documentation that shows your total savings, your income, your length of employment, and your credit score, along with any other information that supports your offer. Just remember to black out any account numbers or sensitive information!
3. Make it easy for the seller
You can improve your odds of having your offer accepted if you make life easier for the seller. One way to do this is to be flexible on the timing of the closing. You could communicate to the seller your willingness to work around their preferred timetable. If they need to close quickly you can make that happen, or if they need extra time to find a new home, you can make that happen too. The key is to show them you can be flexible on the timing.
Part of being flexible is to remove as many contingencies as possible that could delay the closing process. Contingencies are basically things that need to happen in order for the sale to close, such as a home inspection to show you there are no significant problems with the home. If you’re in a very competitive bidding war, it might be smart to do a pre-inspection (which will cost you a few hundred dollars) to help expedite the process and send a message to the seller that you are ready to close quickly if necessary.
4. Endear yourself to the seller
Believe it or not, sellers are not solely influenced by money and convenience. Some sellers have an emotional attachment to their home (especially if they have lived there for a long time) and they may want to ensure that they’re leaving it in good hands.
That’s why you may want to write a letter to go along with your offer. In the letter, explain who you are and why this particular home would mean so much to you. Compliment the home and mention things about the home you like. If you have something in common with the seller (for example, you both love dogs or you both have children), it might be a good idea to mention it. You can even include a photo of you and your family along with the letter. Hopefully the seller will be excited to sell their home to you because it seems like such a good fit.
5. Make a larger down payment
With a larger down payment, you give more confidence to the seller that your loan will get approved and there will be no problems with the closing. For most people, making a larger down payment increases purchasing power, so in many cases, you will be able to increase your offer for the home when you have a bigger down payment.
But how to get a larger down payment? You can ask family to contribute or take additional funds out of other investments you already have. Or you can use a home ownership investment from a company like Unison. With the Unison HomeBuyer program, Unison can contribute up to half of your down payment in return for a share of the appreciation or depreciation in the home’s value at the time it is sold. This allows you to make the most of your down payment funds and can increase your home purchasing power by 15-20% or more.
Bonus Tip: Don’t Give Up Immediately
Even if your offer is not chosen, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. There is still a chance that the winning offer could fall through. This happens often in multiple offer situations since the final price of the home is beyond what a lender is willing to appraise it for. It’s possible that the person who made the winning offer will not get their financing approved, in which case the seller may come back looking for the second best offer – and that could be yours. Ask your real estate agent to keep in touch with the seller just in case this happens.