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July 16, 2021 | home-buying

How to Plan an Offer in a Tight Housing Market

Katie Duncan

Finance Writer

Buying a home can be stressful enough, but trying to purchase a house in a hot seller’s market can feel nearly impossible. In some booming markets, homes are being snatched up for well above the asking price hours after they’re listed. In these conditions, it’s common to see a home you’re excited about to go to someone with a higher offer.

Luckily, there are ways to play your cards right and sweeten the deal to get your offer accepted. If you find yourself trying to buy a house in a market flooded with eager buyers, keep the following tips in mind.

8 Tips to Get Your Offer Accepted in a Hot Housing Market

Here’s how to plan a winning offer in a hot real estate market.

1. Use your real estate agent.

Your realtor is one of the most valuable tools at your disposal. Their knowledge, resources, and connections can come in handy. They're constantly talking to other agents and sellers, so they’ll always have the inside scoop on homes on the market in your local area.

No one knows the local market like they do, and they can lead you in making the perfect offer.

2. Get pre-qualified.

Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage signals to a seller that you're a serious buyer. To get pre-qualified, a lender will collect some basic financial and personal info. They’ll then be able to give you an estimate of how much money they will lend you when you apply.

Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage signals to a seller that you're a serious buyer.

This is beneficial for several reasons. It assures the seller that your offer is less likely to fall through due to financing approval problems. A lender has already seen your qualifications and believes that you are likely to get approved for that amount. And because you'll also know exactly how much a lender will extend, you’ll be able to focus your search on houses within your budget.

3. Send in a clean offer.

Picture this. A seller is presented with two offers of the same amount. One is full of contingencies and stipulations while the other one isn’t. Which do you think the seller will choose? Probably the clean offer, as it provides more assurance that the deal won’t fall through.

Many contingencies are designed to protect the buyer and allow you to back out of the contract in the event of things like issues with the home’s appraisal or inspection. If you forego these contingencies, you forego these added protections. However, it makes your offer more appealing for a seller because it means they’ll get to sell the home even if there are problems.

Your real estate agent will be able to guide you in crafting a clean offer that doesn’t leave you completely vulnerable. If you’re forgoing important contingencies like inspections, you may also consider hiring a real estate attorney to look over your offer and purchase agreement in detail.

4. Meet the sellers.

A personal touch can go a long way. Instead of remaining a faceless name to a seller, try and set up a time to meet them and let them know how excited you’d be to live in their house. This also gives you the opportunity to learn about their motivations to sell, which can help you find ways to sweeten the deal for them.

Most sellers won’t be able to meet in person but sending a personal letter may also sway the odds in your favor. Drawing an emotional connection to the house, neighborhood, or city can help you stand out from the flood of people.

5. Increase your earnest money deposit.

Earnest money is funds put down after the buyer and seller enter into a purchase agreement but before closing on a home. This money protects the seller and helps them recoup their losses should the deal fall through because of the buyer.

Increasing your earnest money, which is sometimes referred to as a good faith deposit, shows the seller that you’re really serious about your offer.

If the deal makes it to closing, the earnest money will go towards your down payment. If the seller terminates the contract or the home fails to meet any contingencies like a passing home inspection, the money may be returned to the homebuyer—but it may also not. Be sure to look at the terms in your purchase agreement carefully so you don’t lose your earnest money.

6. Know that cash-buyers are king.

Mortgage approval and underwriting don’t happen overnight. It can take some time, which lengthens the closing process. If a seller is eager to sell and move out quickly, they may be looking for buyers who can forgo this process altogether by paying with cash.

Similarly, deals sometimes fall through when a buyer can't obtain financing, so avoiding this altogether can make you more attractive to sellers.

7. Get your documents to your loan officer as soon as possible.

If you don’t have the luxury of being an all-cash buyer and plan on getting a mortgage, don’t drag your heels. As we mentioned earlier, the mortgage approval process can take a while. If you prolong the wait by failing to get your documents submitted in a timely manner, you could potentially lose the house.

In a hot market, you have to move fast. It’s a good idea to get all of the necessary documents— like tax returns and pay stubs— ready before you even start looking. That way, when you find the perfect home, you’ll be ready to pounce!

8. Patience is key.

The current 2021 housing market is really hard, and you may be waiting far longer for a house than you initially thought. Though it can be discouraging, don’t give up! The perfect home may be around the corner, waiting for a buyer with all the right know-how.

Have Confidence in a Tight Housing Market

A seller’s market doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to get the house of your dreams— it’ll just take a little more effort! Be patient and keep these eight tips in mind when planning your offer. By using your real estate agent and doing what you can to make things easier for the seller, you’ll find a house in no time!

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