Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably a little familiar with how crazy this real estate market has been. If you just so happen to be one of those people living under a rock, let me briefly explain what’s going on in this market. The pandemic shut down the real estate industry as well as many others early 2020 for a little bit, people were laid off or let go, collected unemployment and stimulus checks, mortgage rates hit an all time low, and the majority of people were hesitant to do anything real estate related, especially sellers.
More buyers jumped into the buyer pool creating a very unbalanced real estate market, leaving competition for slim housing inventory to be extremely cutthroat. Houses barely hit the market and buyers are putting multiple offers in, starting a bidding war and this drives home prices sky high. But with so much competition, how is anyone ever going to get their offers accepted? Stick around, I have a few tips to help you do just that.
If you’re currently in the trenches battling your way to get a new home, you’ve probably gone out of your way to ask Google “How do I get my offer accepted on a home in today’s market” and the only thing you’re finding is sources telling you to have a mortgage pre-approval in hand, make the highest offer possible, offer all cash and well above asking, or drop all of the contingencies on the contract that protect you from losing your deposit.
But what if you didn’t need to steal money from your parents’ sock drawer or eliminate the only chance you have of keeping your deposit? You probably wouldn’t believe me, but I am here to tell you these strategies work.
Before I jump into these strategies I want to take a second to acknowledge first-time homebuyers or anyone that can’t afford to offer thousands and thousands of dollars over asking price. As I have mentioned to a lot of my first-time home buyer clients, in this market you have to make sacrifices, and I’m not just talking about the color of the walls or carpet not being what you want, I’m talking about the overall condition of a home.
As I’ve talked about in a lot of my previous videos and blog posts, getting a turn key home in today’s market is going to be in the crosshairs of someone who can bring a lot of money to the table, skip contingencies, and get into an all out bidding war just to get a home. You need to bite your tongue and get a home that requires a little more work, but not something that requires so much work that you’re spending every dollar earned on a new house project. Another consideration is to expand your home search area and sacrifice a little commute time to work to open up opportunities to get an offer accepted. Here’s a few strategies to do just that.
1.) AVOID ASKING FOR PERSONAL PROPERTY
A lot of buyers when they tour the home will fixate on something that doesn’t come with the home and they will make a point to try and get that item to stay with the home. Whether it’s lawn furniture, an entertainment center or a leather chair, asking for items only makes your offer weaker. Instead hop on Groupon or Facebook Marketplace and see if you can find some crazy deals on those items.
2.) WRITING A PERSONAL LETTER TO THE SELLER
A lot of people don’t believe this method works, but believe me when I say sellers have feelings too, they can’t just be labeled as the bad guy. Sellers are just as overwhelmed knowing they’re going to receive an offer the first day and have to pack up the whole house as fast as they can. A lot of sellers have built an emotional connection to their home, so it makes sense for them to want to leave it in the hands of someone who will care for it and build a family in it as they did.
But beware, some listing agents won’t accept buyer letters as they could be against fair housing laws. How, you might be asking? When you write a letter explaining your personal life, adding photos, and all these additional details, and the offer gets rejected, there could be a dispute about discrimination pertaining to the fair housing act, so the best way to avoid this is to talk about what you love about the home and how you built a great connection to its features.
3.) PUT A LIMIT ON CONTINGENCIES
As a home buyer in general, it’s not recommended to waive an inspection contingency, but there is a way to restructure the contingency. When a seller sees your offer and you have selected you want to perform an inspection, the first thought that comes to their mind is they are going to have to cover all these different expenses and repairs, so to avoid that thought, state in the contract that you won’t make a big deal about repairing or replacing anything unless it’s over $1,000. This gives sellers a sigh of relief that you won’t just keep nickel and dime-ing them throughout the inspection period.
4.) APPRAISAL GUARANTEE/WAIVER
For those of you that don’t know how appraisals work, let me give you a quick run down. Let’s say a home is listed for $400,000, but the appraisal valued the home at $375,000. That $375,000 is the max amount a lender will give a buyer to purchase the home.
The seller can either reduce the price to that amount, negotiate a median price or make the buyer come up with the extra funds since the lender won’t give anymore to make up for that $25,000 deficit. In this example, let’s pretend you have $10,000 to play with. The home is listed at $200,000, and you offer $210,000 with an appraisal contingency stating you will come up with the additional funds to satisfy the appraisal deficiency up to the price that you offered. Not every buyer is willing to do something like that, so if you have $5,000-$10,000 to put toward cash to close, consider this strategy to strengthen your offer.
5.) OFFER FREE OCCUPANCY
When a seller sells, they need a place to go, and with this competitive market, they are in the trenches with you looking for a home while they are trying to sell their own, so a lot of sellers are requesting occupancy, which is the buyer allowing the seller to stay a set amount of days after closing to make time for moving their things or finalizing the closing on their new home.
Typically the seller would be paying the same cost the buyer would be paying monthly for the home during occupancy. In most situations, sellers are requesting an additional 30 days, so is giving them a free month of rent something you’d be willing to do to ensure you get an accepted offer?
6.) SHORTEN THE DUE DILLIGENCE/ESCROW PERIOD
Some sellers just want the process quick and over with, so shortening the due diligence and escrow period can definitely strengthen your offer. Typically, you’ll see an inspection period to be 7-10 days after the acceptance of the offer, if the inspector has some availability earlier, consider cutting that time period down to 3-5 days. Same with the appraisal.
Since the buyer’s lender gets the appraisal scheduled, see if they can shorten the time a little bit. Along with that, see if the lender can get mortgage approval faster as well. It never hurts to have your real estate agent ask those questions to see if the overall time frame can be trimmed down a little bit.
7.) PUT MORE MONEY TOWARD EARNEST MONEY DEPOSIT
If you don’t know what an earnest money deposit or EMD is, it’s a deposit you make when your offer has been accepted to let the seller know you’re serious about purchasing the home. A strategy that a lot of buyers have been using lately is increasing the deposit to make the seller comfortable with proceeding. This gives the seller some relief because if by any means you want to up and walk away from the transaction, you will lose your deposit, but if your intentions are good, your funds will go toward your down payment and closing costs after all is said and done.
I know some of these strategies may seem small, but believe me when I tell you that they go a long way, especially when they are used together. Another common trend I have been seeing a lot in this market from buyers is burnout. The last thing you’d want to do is make decisions after being constantly discouraged throughout the home search process, and make decisions with an unsound mind. It’s completely okay to take a step back to simmer down and recharge your batteries before jumping headfirst into it again.