13 Ways to Write a Winning Offer
As a buyer in today’s real estate market, your offer to purchase will likely be up against offers from other motivated buyers. Below are 13 ways you can make your offer stand out from the competition and be the one that gets accepted. Of course, the strategies you use will depend a lot on the type and condition of the property, your level of motivation, and how much competition you have from other parties.
#1: Submit your mortgage pre-approval from a reputable, local lender. A pre-approval from an out-of-town or big box lender can create doubt in the mind of a seller and listing agent. For example, we've seen sellers disregard offers from buyers who are pre-approved by an internet lender and some credit unions. Give your seller every reason to believe your pre-approval is solid by working with a reputable mortgage lender.
#2: Ask your mortgage lender to email and call the listing agent on your behalf when you submit your offer. This simple touch gives the seller and their agent an extra boost of confidence that you'll close without any problems.
#3: Create a connection with your sellers by writing a thoughtful letter. For example, if the sellers raised their family in their home, write a letter which explains why their house is perfect for you and your family. Have everyone in your family sign the letter (the kids with crayons) and include a family photo including pets. Usually it’s all about the money, although sometimes a personal letter can humanize your offer and could be the deciding factor in a multiple offer situation.
#4: Write the seller's preferred closing date into your offer. In a competitive situation you want your agent to ask the listing agent to address the seller's preferred terms. Giving the seller their preferred closing date is a great way to tip the scales in your favor. We have lenders who can close loans in 21 days or less.
#5: Write an above average amount of earnest money into your offer. The typical earnest money check can be 3% to 5% of the offer price. While there is no required amount, make your offer stand out by submitting a higher-than-average earnest money amount, like 10% 20% of the sales price, or higher if you have the available cash in the bank.
#6: If your finances allow, specify a down payment amount of at least 20%-25% in your financing terms. This will strengthen your offer and help you gain an advantage over other buyers who are putting less money down.
#7: Don’t make your offer contingent on an appraisal. Right now, most winning offers don't include this contingency. Talk to your buyer agent about the pluses and minuses of including an appraisal contingency in your offer to purchase. The lender you work with is critical, since some have a roster of knowledgeable appraisers, while many others don’t.
#8: Don't make your offer contingent upon a home inspection. If the property is a new listing, priced well and in good condition, it will attract a huge crowd. Having an inspection is important, although most buyers in the current market are having inspections for informational purposes.
#9: If you can’t waive the financing contingency, work with a local lender who can deliver your loan approval in two weeks or less. Yes, some lenders can get the job done this quickly. Talk to your lender about the shortest amount of time for the financing contingency. For more info, please reach out to us for local lenders who can get the job done quickly.
#10: Make your offer stronger by making it a cash offer - even if you intend to purchase with a mortgage. If you have accounts which demonstrate sufficient cash to close, you can use these accounts as proof of funds and submit a cash offer. Once your offer is accepted you can choose to finance with a mortgage instead. Contact us to learn more about the steps involved with this type of offer.
#11: Work with an experienced buyer agent who goes the extra mile to communicate your interests. Too many buyer agents over-rely on texts and emails when communicating with listing agents. We recommend you hire a buyer representative who knows the value of calling the listing agent and explaining the merits of your offer. When you're up against other offers, your buyer agent's communication style and reputation can make or break your chances for getting your offer accepted.
#12: Make the seller's move easier by allowing the seller to rent back the property for FREE up to two months after settlement. Sometimes this is icing on the cake for a homeowner who wants a quick closing and time to stay in the home after it’s sold. On vacant properties it obviously won’t apply.
#13: Offer to pay some or all the seller's closing costs. This can be a nice way to appeal to the seller's financial interests without causing the appraised value of the home to come in under the contract price.
More Thoughts on Writing a Winning Offer
Your chances for success go up for every winning strategy you include in your offer. And very often it's not just the price that determines the winner. Usually it's about the strength of the offer as a whole, the overall tone of the negotiation, and who the seller and their agent trust is the best fit for their home. That's why it's so important to work with an experienced agent who sets a positive tone during the negotiation while working with you to assemble a great offer.
Please note these strategies are intended for a hot seller's market and negotiations with multiple competing offers. Sometimes there might be an overpriced property that sits on the market that won’t attract a crowd early on. Occasionally your agent might find a Coming Soon or off market home that you can grab before the world knows about it. Market conditions and strategies will change over time. Every offer is unique. In no way should this article be treated as legal advice or as a substitute for the guidance you should be seeking from your buyer agent or trusted advisor.