10 Ways To Get Your Offer Accepted In A Seller's Market

Miranda Crace4-Minute Read
September 16, 2021

You’re finally ready to take the plunge and make an offer on your dream house. You found something that is perfect for you and your family’s needs, and you’ve determined how much to offer on the house: the seller’s asking price. It’s a sure thing, right? Not so fast.

A seller’s market means that there are more buyers than there are homes available for sale, and it may be more difficult to get your offer accepted. It may mean that your full-price offer just isn’t going to cut it, or that you’ll have to beat a contingent offer from another buyer. So, what can you do to get that perfect house you’ve searched for high and low? These tips might push your offer to the front of the line.

Make Your Offer As Clean As Possible

A clean offer should not be contingent on the sale of another property or have other financial constraints. It should also be free of seller concessions, which are things that a buyer asks for outside of the offer price, such as help with closing costs.

Kristina McCann, founder of Chroma Realty, states, “I tell my clients that the traditional contingencies are like a deck of cards you hold to your chest for protection: loan, appraisal, inspection are the main ones. As you lay them on the table, you give them up, which makes your offer more appealing to a seller because you have less opportunity to back out of a contract that you write.”

McCann suggests that even if you don’t add contingencies to your offer, there are still ways to protect your interests. For example, you can get your loan fully underwritten. This means that you will complete the entire loan process with your lender before making an offer on a home. Then, when you put an offer in, you can confidently put down your loan contingency with little to no risk.

She also suggests that you consider giving up your inspection contingency. If the seller has provided inspection reports from reputable companies, then you can do this with little risk involved.

Avoid Asking For Personal Property

Drooling over the sparkly chandelier listed in the exclusions? Don’t ask for it. Want them to throw in that cool lawn furniture? Skip it. Your offer could be very similar in price to another offer that isn’t asking for items that belong to the seller. Asking for excluded items could weaken your offer.

Benjamin Ross, Corpus Christi REALTOR®, says, “If you want a chandelier or lawn furniture, go to Home Depot. If you want to seriously compete for and win the bid on this house, it is important for you to remain focused in achieving your goal: buying the house, and hope your competition falls in love with the chandelier.”

Offer Above-Asking

This is not the market for making low offers and hoping someone will bite. You’ll have to make your offer strong enough to beat out a multiple-bid situation. If you want the house, you’re likely going to have to go above the asking price.

Don’t allow the thought of offering over the asking price overwhelm you. Sometimes, you only need to offer $2,000 – $3,000 more to achieve the effect you’re going for. Doing this will show the seller that you’re serious about buying the home, and that you want them to consider you as a potential buyer.

Making an offer above the asking price won’t end up costing you much in the long run. What you put down and what you pay monthly on your mortgage will only change significantly if you offer an unrealistic amount above asking. Keeping your offer aligned to the home’s value, while still above the asking price, will help you secure the home you’re interested in.

Put Down A Stronger Earnest Money Deposit (EMD)

Your earnest money deposit is proof that you’re a good-faith buyer. Usually, the real estate broker will hold onto your EMD, which will contribute to your down payment and closing cost. On average, EMDs are about 1 – 3% of the purchase price of the home. If you put a larger amount down, it may show that you’re a serious buyer, and that your intentions are genuine.

But, if you do put more of an EMD down, make sure you intend to buy the home. If you don’t end up moving forward with the purchase, your EMD may be in jeopardy. If you’ve already signed the contract and don’t buy the home, the seller could keep your EMD as compensation for the time wasted.

Waive The Appraisal Contingency

McCann adds, “An appraisal contingency can be given up as well – but, this poses the most risk unless you have enough cash to cover any potential shortfall between offered price and appraised price.”

This is a huge one in neighborhoods that are experiencing a resurgence in property values or gained interest. An offer indicating your intention to bring money to the table if the home doesn’t appraise will definitely set you apart from the others. Just make sure you’re in a strong enough financial position to take this risk.

Make A Larger Down Payment In Your Loan Program

No matter what type of loan you choose, offering to put more money down is another sign of good faith to your seller. As we’ve indicated with several of our previous points, any time that you can showcase you’re in a good financial position, you should do so. This situation is no exception to that rule. By making a larger down payment than you have to, you send the message that you’re serious about the purchase and capable of meeting all financial obligations.

Add An Escalation Clause To Your Offer

An escalation clause means that your offer will outbid other offers up to a maximum price. This means that you make an offer saying you will pay X price for a home, but if a higher offer comes in, you will increase your offer to Y price.

Keep in mind, even if you provide an escalation clause, it may be in the seller’s best interest to issue a counteroffer. A counteroffer is in place of accepting your escalation clause offer. The seller may also decide to raise the list price instead of providing a counteroffer or accepting an escalation clause.

If you decide to move forward with this option, you should consult with a lawyer before you submit your offer. Your lawyer will be the one who writes this clause into the contract.

Pay With Cash

Michael R. Santana, real estate attorney at GrayRobinson, states, “Cash offers also have the important effect of keeping the deal primarily between the buyer and seller – they call the shots and not some stranger at a bank. A financed deal is usually subject to financing contingencies, which leaves a back door for the buyer to exit.”

When buyers finance through a lender, they’re often at the mercy of the lender’s process. This has the potential to lead to a negative outcome. Santana suggests that many lenders want an inspection, or to include appraisal contingencies to protect their best interests. This could deter a seller, especially if they have other offers on the table.

Dealing with cash offers proves that a buyer is serious and has the financial means to expedite closing. Cash offers allow the buyer to be in control instead of letting a lender dictate the closing process.

Make Sure Your Offer Is Complete

Paying attention to the details of your offer should be a no-brainer, but every day mistakes are made in this process. This may include missing disclosures, EMD or pertinent information for the purchase agreement. In a competitive market, mistakes like these may result in your offer getting tossed.

If a seller receives multiple offers that are complete, they may not give your offer a second look. If you want to make sure you have a chance in the running, make sure to cross your “t’s” and dot your “i’s.”

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Offer One Month of Free Occupancy

When purchasing a home with a mortgage, your payment isn’t due until a month after you close. Why not offer your payment early to sweeten the deal? A seller could benefit from you paying “rent” for a month, and this may strengthen your offer.

But, if you do decide to offer 1 month of free occupancy, make sure you discuss all of the details beforehand. It’s wise to have this agreement in writing so guidelines are clear and concise. You don’t want to find yourself an unwelcome houseguest for an indefinite amount of time.

The Bottom Line: Make Your Offer Stand Out

While they may seem small, these actions can go a long way to making your offer stand out and get you the home of your dreams. Establishing that you’re a serious buyer, with the financial capabilities to meet all obligations, is the way to a seller’s heart. You should be willing to go the extra mile, both in your intention and in your financial offerings. If you do so, the seller of your dream home will notice your effort and give your offer a second glance.

Don’t forget about the details. Make sure you’re following all the guidelines to a T. This includes submitting your documents accurately and on time. Take the extra time to follow up with all parties involved to ensure your information and payments made it to the appropriate person. Don’t be afraid to come across as overly attentive to detail. Being proactive will help both you and the home seller.

For more articles like this, be sure to check out our Home Buying Guide.

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Miranda Crace

The Rocket Homes blog is here to bring you all you need to know about buying, selling and making the most of your home. Whether you’re thinking about becoming a homeowner, selling your current home or looking to keep your place in tip-top shape, our writers and freelancers bring their experience and expertise to meet you right where you are.