This year the Spring real estate market has been particularly heated. Combine few houses for sale with our thriving community and historically low interest rates, and you have a perfect recipe for multiple offers. So how can you make sure you win without overpaying?
1. Get a real agent.
The school of hard knocks is the best teacher for success in bidding wars. Make sure your agent has been in the business long enough to know what you need to do. The highest price isn't always what wins. A skilled and professional agent will know how to sell your bid to the sellers.
2. Go in at your BEST PRICE
You have ONE shot at this. Make it the most you are willing to pay for this house. Keep going up, a dollar at a time if necessary, and find your 'no thanks' point. A good agent will look over comparables in the neighbourhood with you, and hopefully you will have seen a few houses so you have a good feel for the market and local pricing. Don't worry if you don't think you aren't high enough - still try because you have nothing to lose. However, if you really want the house, make sure you go in at a price that is your best and final.
3. Go in with LEAST CONDITIONS POSSIBLE
Scary, right? But an offer laden with conditions is really just a half offer because there are so many stipulations. A few standard conditions will be financing, inspection, insurance, sale of you current property. You can avoid putting these in, but have your sh*t together, and always add the agent recommended conditions unless you are positive you don't need them. For example, if you have had lengthy conversations with your lender, and they have done all the required credit checks, you can ask the lender how they feel about you removing that condition in your offer. At the very least attach a letter of pre-approval to your offer if you include a financing condition. This shows the seller that you are already on track. If you have really no knowledge about your current financial state, NEVER leave a financing condition out. As for the other possible conditions, check with your agent. But try to deal with as many as possible ahead of time to avoid them being obstacles.
4. Write a Letter to the Seller
Super cheesy - agreed. But this can work well if the sellers have been in the house a long time. They may be emotionally attached to the house and want to know someone loves it like they do. It won't always work, but it never hurts. Submit it with your offer.
5. Have your agent present it personally
Person-to-person is still the best way to communicate. With technology as it is, agents can now just email offers instead of meeting the sellers directly. Unless the sellers have specifically requested to not see agents, their agent is obligated to allow your agent to present your offer to the sellers. This is a great way for your agent to plea your case, to explain why any conditions might be in there, and to generally put them at ease and sell your offer. A professional agent with a lower priced offer can often (in my experience) beat out an agent who shows up unprepared in jeans and flip-flops. Chose your representation wisely.
6. Loiter in the area
Sometimes sellers have questions. For example, at the offer table they may say they like the offer, but wonder if the client can possibly change the date. If an agent can reach my buyers immediately and make the required changes, they have a better chance of securing the house than the agent who can't find or reach his clients as quickly.
Remember - if you want the house and there are other offers, make your offer count. Chose excellent and experienced representation. Be friends with your lender. Know the risks. And if you still don't get the house, I promise that there are always other houses.
Charlotte Karger is a real estate sales representative with fourteen years experience in Kitchener-Waterloo with the brokerage Royal LePage Wolle Realty.