In today’s market, it’s not uncommon to be in competition with several other buyers for your dream home. According to Zillow’s 2018 Housing Report, 42% of buyers have to make multiple offers before going under contract. When you find that perfect house, with the chic chandelier and the doggy door for Fido, the last thing you want to do is lose it because your offer didn’t stand out to the seller.
“A good listing agent can spot a well-structured offer right away, versus an offer that is riddled with mistakes, missing information, or even sloppy”, says Ryan Michaelis, Managing Broker of Worth Clark Realty. “It doesn’t always boil down to dollars and cents. Simply taking the time to put forth a well-written offer can work wonders for a buyer,” Michaelis goes on to say. Each seller and agent may have different opinions on what makes the best offer, but here are some that we’ve found are the most consistent:
1. Include a pre-approval.
If you want to show the seller that you’re serious about buying a home, get pre-approved before you ever sign an offer. Not only does it show that you didn’t just waltz up, see the for sale sign and throw something out there, but it also alleviates some of the seller’s worries that you’ll back out when the bank finds out your credit isn’t actually as good as you thought it was. Be sure to include that pre-approval letter from the bank with the signed offer.
2. Make a decent earnest money deposit.
When you’re sure you can’t picture yourself without this house, be ready to boost your earnest money deposit. Earnest money shows the seller that you’re putting your money where your mouth is, and you’re prepared to give up that chunk of cash if you back of the contract for any reason other than those allowed under the contract terms. There is usually a typical amount offered for your area, so if you really want to look good, go above and beyond that amount.
3. Remove all the contingencies you can.
Having two mortgages while trying to sell the home you’re in now isn’t really a dream that anyone has, but if you have the cash to do it, it’s definitely going to make your offer more desirable. Anytime you can waive contingencies in the contract, like the sale of your current home, it gives the seller more confidence that the deal will go through without a hitch.
Another option, if you’re not willing to give up some of the contingencies entirely, would be to shorten the typical time periods. If it’s customary for your inspection period to be 15 days, shorten it to 10 to let the seller know you’re looking to make this happen quickly.
4. Make it Your Best
When you’re up against multiple offers, don’t waste a lot of time expecting to negotiate. Base your offer on solid research of surrounding comparables and really offer what you’d be willing to pay. If you don’t, your offer may be tossed aside for others that did. This includes more than the price, too. Maybe pay out of pocket for some of those extras, like a home warranty or closing costs, instead of asking the seller to contribute.
5. Get Personal
It’s time to let the seller know why you’re dying to buy their house, and be honest. Is it because you want to raise your family in the neighborhood? Do you see Fido rolling around in the big, fenced backyard? Connecting with the seller and creating a sense of relatability can go a long way, but avoid sounding desperate. The idea is to keep it short, simple, and honest, and don’t forget to have your buyer’s agent proofread it.
According to Michaelis, even though the qualifications and resources of the buyer play a large part, it doesn’t have to be the only part. Take a look at all the terms of the offer and don’t hesitate to go out of the box to make your offer standout to the seller. It may end up getting you your dream home.
Alissa Talimonchuk is a real estate enthusiast and head of product at Transactly. When she’s not trying to better the experience for the buyer and seller, you can find her in a book or playing Candyland with her toddler.