As the housing market is back on the rise, we are seeing the return of multiple offers. In these situations, sellers can be far more selective with the deals they want to accept. For buyers, this means that the market is becoming competitive once again. With any such scenario, there’s always a winner and a loser. These tips aim to give you, the buyer, an edge over your competition – so that when going after your dream house – you’ll stand out from the other contending offers:
1. Be Prepared to Make an Offer
First and foremost, be sure of the type of house and the price range you have in mind. If you aren’t prepared, don’t go looking blindly for houses — you’ll just become frustrated and overwhelmed. Your broker can help you by pulling “comps” – or similar homes that have a similar value – to give you a good sense of what you can expect to find within your prospective budget. A professional real estate agent will also ask you a lot of questions to ensure that he or she knows what you’re looking for, and also to help educate you on the state of the market, and what you can expect to find in your ideal neighborhood and for your ideal price. That way, when you do stumble on to the home of your dreams, you’ll be mentally ready to place an offer or proceed to the next house. Make no mistake, the offer price is the most important detail of the offer. Consult with your broker regarding pricing strategies and come out strong. In a multiple bid setting, you may find yourself in a “final and best” situation so consider your initial offer price very carefully. Decide what the house is worth to you and at what point you’re willing to walk away. Having these details worked out ahead of time will allow you move forward comfortably and stick out from the crowd.
2. Ask the Listing Broker for Time Frame
Throughout the home-buying process, you want to be respectful of the sellers’ wishes without losing sight of your own needs and desires. To alleviate this pressure, find out from their broker the sellers’ ideal timeline. If it fits your schedule – great. If not, try to work with them and come up with a solution that’s mutually beneficial. The more you appear to be the accommodating party, the more desirable you’ll be to the seller for taking their needs into consideration. That extra attention to working things out will get your offer noticed.
3. Shorten Purchase and Sale Dates
The building inspection is often the next round of negotiations so be flexible, reasonable and fair and work with the sellers to make the transaction smooth. In a multiple offer situation, there is someone standing in the wings hoping the transaction will fall through so be mindful when considering your list of repairs or credits. There is no need to prolong the deal if both parties are satisfied. Get the house inspected as soon as possible, give a deposit and agree to move-out and move-in dates that are speedy, but reasonable. Once the transaction is in the rear view mirror for both parties, everyone can move on and turn to the next chapter of their lives.
4. Lack of Contingency
When entering a contract, all parties want to be satisfied with as little effort as possible; this is the same when it comes to real estate transactions. Sellers want to get their house sold quickly and efficiently, while buyers want to occupy their new home in a timely manner. The way to make the process run smoothly in a multiple offer situation for is to have few, or ideally, no contingencies, depending on the practicalities. If you can’t buy the house unless yours sells, the seller will most certainly move on to another offer or if you’re looking for a long closing date, your offer may not be as attractive as others. Most buyers need the mortgage contingency but if you don’t, that’s a plus for you. Contingencies are necessary on some level, but the less you have -- the better from a sales perspective, especially in a multiple offer situation. If you can make the sellers’ life easier in this sense, you may be bumped up to the top of their list.
5. Letter to Seller — About Why You Love the House
When you find your dream house -- the one you that gives you butterflies in your stomach -- you need to go for it. All of the suggested tips are important to consider – but sometimes a plea from the heart is the simplest and most successful method. Compose a thoughtful letter to the current owner. Explain to them why you truly want this home for your family and the reasons why you should be considered for the final bid. If you’re sincere, honest, and open with the seller, you’ll certainly stand out among the other buyers. Be advised, this is not a tactic you should routinely employ; it applies solely to your ultimate home – and only when you think you may be overlooked in favor of other offers.
Purchasing a house is a huge commitment. You have to be prepared and ready to take a leap of faith, so make sure you’re ready to do so. When you are, you need to step into the sellers’ shoes and make an offer that you would like to receive as a seller. That kind of empathy can elevate you to the top of the prospective buyer list. In a market where multiple competing offers are on the table, the seller is looking for people who are easy to deal with. The more hoops you make them jump through, the less chance you’ll have to end up with the key to your dream home. If you’re an effective and efficient home buyer — the transaction will be a smooth and happy one for everyone.
Debi Benoit, principal of Benoit Mizner Simon & Co., has been Wellesley’s #1 real estate agent since 2006. The Wall Street Journal twice ranked her among the top 100 real estate professionals in the country. With offices in Wellesley and Weston, Benoit Mizner Simon & Co provides buyers and sellers in both markets with in-depth knowledge and experience combined with unparalleled client service.
With offices in Wellesley and Weston, Debi can be reached at 617-962-9292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.