Be Prepared: How to Make an Offer a Home Seller Can't (or Shouldn't!) Refuse
After spending months looking for the right property to call home, you finally found it. It’s situated in the desired school district, a respectful distance from your new base, with convenience to nearby shopping and restaurants. Plus, it has that spacious kitchen you’ve dreamed of for years. Now you just need to convince the sellers that you’re the right buyer—among countless others.
When the market brings dozens of buyers to the seller’s doorstep, how can you stand out and ensure that the seller entertains your offer? Let's think about it from the seller’s perspective.
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1) Appeal to the seller’s timeline.
Be willing to move now—right now. Military homeowners rushing to sell their homes before their next PCS move are looking for serious buyers with their ducks in a row. Some value time saved over money made, so even if someone comes in with a higher offer, your lower offer with the ability to close immediately might win them over. As military families, yourselves, you’re familiar with the rush and panic that PCS moves bring. Relieving the seller's stress and helping them get out the door and onto their next adventure can speak volumes to military sellers.
2) Offer cash.
If you can, make a cash offer. Though certainly not possible in every situation, cash reduces the risk for the seller and ensures a faster timeline since the sale isn’t contingent on a mortgage approval.
3) Include a pre-approval letter.
“Having a pre-approval letter ready and waiting can give you an edge when it comes to pursuing a house. In a competitive seller’s market when there are bidding wars and countless other buyers vying for the same property, proof that you can afford the home might be reason enough for your offer to rise to the top. Or let’s say, for example, that the home seller is pressed for time before a PCS move (that never happens in military life, right?). With your financing already lined up, they’ll know you’re a sure thing.” -Mortgage Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval: What it Means and Why It Matters
A pre-approval letter confirms to the seller that you’re not only ready for a quick purchase but there’s no way that the lender will reduce your borrowing amount, ultimately reducing the seller’s risk in accepting your offer.
What's the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval for a home loan? Learn more in the short video below from Realtor Karen Hall.
4) Make a non-contingency offer.
Home inspection contingencies are the most common home contingencies and protect the buyer from purchasing a money pit. While most parties would not expect the buyer to agree to purchase “as is” before the inspector gives the green light, you could consider leaving out the home inspection contingency. However, in most cases, the seller reduces the purchase price to compensate for any necessary repairs the inspector reveals or completes the work before closing day.
That said, you should leave out any contingencies regarding the sale of your current home if you want your offer to stand out. Rushed sellers will toss out any offers that require the sale of your home to purchase theirs.
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5) Include an escalation clause.
By adding an escalation clause, you're agreeing to increase your offer by a certain amount if a higher bid comes in.
What an escalation clause does:
- It tells the seller you’re a serious buyer and don’t want to lose the home.
- It reduces the risk for the seller, ensuring they’re not passing up a better offer waiting right around the corner.
- It can keep the transaction moving quickly by avoiding a bidding war in a competitive housing market.
But the escalation clause requires total transparency. As soon as you include the clause in your offer, you’ve told the sellers what you’re willing to pay, and they can either deny you outright or counter to get you up to your max offer.
6) Appeal to the seller’s emotions.
Buying and selling property is, at its very core, a financial transaction, but it's often also emotional. Our home is the backdrop to family memories, the start of every day, and our haven at the end of long ones. Just as emotions can get involved when you’re looking for a home to purchase, they run high when it’s time to sell and say goodbye to the place you called home for years.
As a prospective buyer, be mindful of the seller's feelings. Instead of touring the home and vocalizing all the things you would change, save that conversation for the privacy of your car. Offer compliments on the space and ask what they used the quirky nook in the den for. Showing a personal interest goes a long way for sellers and gives them a chance to see that you’ll appreciate and care for the home the same way they did.
Making an offer on the home you’ve fallen in love with is a vulnerable and nerve-wracking experience—especially in a competitive home market. Thankfully, with these helpful tips you have all the tools you need to make an appealing offer and (fingers crossed) secure your new home.
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