suburban house

In a hot real estate market (Hello, Denver!) there are fewer homes for sale than there are people looking to buy. And that means means you could find yourself in a bidding war for the home of your dreams.

Competing with other potential buyers can be stressful, but don’t panic. Money talks, but it’s not always the highest offer that wins. Here are some tips for winning a bidding war that don’t involve breaking the bank.

Make Sure You Have the Right People

Having a real estate agent with experience navigating multiple-offer-situations is priceless. A good real estate agent can give you on-the-ground advice about unique market conditions in your area. She’ll be able to guide you through the process and let you in on what’s worked for other folks in similar situations. When it’s time to deal with the listing agent, your real estate agent will be there to advocate for you.

Propose a Closing Date Sooner Rather Than Later

Is the seller moving to a new city? Or perhaps downsizing to a smaller or less-expensive home? If you dig a little bit, you may find that that your seller is looking to close in a hurry. You could use that to your advantage. Offer a shorter timetable. Your seller may be willing to leave a little money on the table in order to sell their home quickly. To go this route, you’ll need to be sure your financial ducks are in a row. That way, you’ll be totally ready when the time comes.

Write a Personal letter

People can be pretty sentimental about their homes. It’s possible your sellers have lived in the home for years or even decades. Perhaps they raised a family there.

Letting go isn’t easy. But it can be a little easier when the seller knows the house is going to someone who will really love and appreciate their home.

So go ahead and write a letter about yourself and your family. Use that letter to paint a picture of how you imagine your life in your new home. Let the seller know you like the new tiles in the kitchen, or that you’ve got a dog who is going to love running in the backyard. You can even include a photograph of you and your family, if you’d like. A letter from a real family who wants to live in the home may make your offer more attractive than an offer from someone who, say, wants the home solely as an investment property. Bonus: writing a thoughtful letter costs you no money, only a little bit of time.

Offer to Take the Home As-Is

Buyers include contingencies with their offers, which are conditions that must be fulfilled to complete the sale. But contingencies can mean extra time, and more importantly, extra uncertainty for the seller considering your offer. So talk to your real estate-agent about whether you can or should waive some of the standard contingencies. Offering to take a home as-is instead of asking a seller to cover repairs means you’ll need to take care of those costs yourself. But if it’s the home for you, the added effort you’ll need to put in after the home is yours may be worth it.

Make a Generous Deposit

Many offers from potential buyers include a deposit, called earnest money. The money goes into escrow as soon as the seller’s agreement is signed. It demonstrates to the seller that you’re serious about purchasing the home and that you’ve got the money to do so. As long as everything goes well, the earnest money deposit is applied towards your down payment. Typically, the deposit is about 1-3% of the asking price for the home. But if you can, offering a larger deposit can show the seller that you really mean business.

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