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Multiple Offers in Real Estate
I get a lot of questions – especially in a hot seller’s market, from buyers asking how they can improve their ‘odds’ when in a multi-offer situation on the home they want to buy. A seller’s market can be frustrating and exhausting for buyers who look at homes – perhaps even repeatedly making offers on homes – and continuing to lose the home of their dreams when another offer is chosen.
Tip #1 – Substantial Deposits
It can work in buyers’ favor to place as large of an escrow deposit as possible. The escrow money deposit is also known as an earnest money deposit or a good faith deposit. This translates to a seller seeing that you are showing “good faith” in moving forward with the transaction by your willingness to make a large deposit.
Most sellers prefer larger deposits (vs. smaller deposits). We recommend 5%-10%. Certainly, 1% to 3% can work on the lower price ranges (provided the sellers agree). The deposit is held by the listing office in a special escrow account, which is a non-interest bearing account that must adhere to state and municipal guidelines. This deposit comes back to buyers as a credit at settlement. (It’s reduced off of the closing costs that buyers need to bring to settlement to consummate the purchase.)
Tip #2 – Settlement Date
Whenever possible, accommodate the sellers’ desired settlement date. (ie – If a seller needs a longer period of time to complete their move – or if their house is vacant and they’re looking for an ASAP settlement, these details can aid you in writing the best offer possible!) The buyer agent can inquire from the sellers’ agent – what date would be most desired by the sellers, and if buyers work within those parameters, it can certainly give the buyers a competitive edge!
Tip #3 – Inspections
We always recommend that home buyers order and complete home inspections as part of the purchase process. This ensures that a professional has inspected the property from top to bottom (ie basement to roof). This provides buyers with knowledge of warning signs and an indication of expenses that buyers should budget for in the future. It also helps buyers gain understanding of how to operate and maintain the features of the home.
A home is likely to be a buyer’s largest investment. In a competing offer situation, it is sometimes appropriate to consider either reducing the amount of inspections or perhaps to waive the inspections.
If buyers opt to do either (waive some or all inspections), be aware there is some risk involved. The property is essentially being sold in as-is condition.
Sellers consider many options – and the amount (and contingency period for) inspections is definitely something sellers consider closely as they make their decision on which offer they will accept. This ensures that there won’t be another series of negotiations mid-process, which is generally assuring to sellers.
Tip #4 – Purchase Price
While many buyers believe that the highest price is likely to secure the ‘winning/accepted’ offer status, there are some other things to consider.
Most sellers will scrutinize all terms associated within the offers. Keep in mind if that if a buyer offers $400,000 but needs the seller to pay $15,000 of the buyer’s closing costs, that’s essentially an offer of $385,000.
If another buyer offers $385,000 for the same $400,000 property – and doesn’t need the seller to pay their (buyer’s) closing costs, the seller’s ‘net’ proceeds are significantly higher!
There’s SO much for buyers to consider when structuring a home purchase offer! Working with an experienced agent can make an enormous difference when competing w/ other buyers for the home of your dreams!
Tip #5 – Escalation Clause
An escalation clause can be used by buyers to set their offer apart from the competing offers.
For example, on a $400,000 home, you may opt to use an escalation clause (where permitted ). There is a specifc addendum for this use. In Pennsylvania, we utilize the approved addendum from the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors. (aka price escalation addendum)
ie – If buyers are willing to pay up to $415,000 for a $400,000 property, they may offer to outbid the sellers’ net on the other offers by a defined amount (perhaps $1,000, 2000 or $5,000) with a “max” ‘bid’ of $415,000. It’s especially important that buyers consider the experience of their chosen Realtor, in order to receive great advice on structuring all of the terms of the contract – and whether or not an escalation clause addendum may be acceptable/advisable.
Tip #6 – Accommodating Sellers’ Desired Terms
If the seller has said they’re excluding certain items, (ie – maybe they have special light fixtures, mirrors, etc. that normally may stay with the house – and they would like to remove them and take them from the home), decide whether this is agreeable at the time of writing the offer.
Perhaps the seller wishes to leave all of the appliances because they’re doing a long-distance move, and don’t want to pay to ship them. Even if you don’t need the appliances, maybe you sell them post-closing! Accommodating as many terms as possible displays buyers’ willingness to be sensitive and respectful of the sellers’ needs.
Tip # 7 – Financing A Home Purchase
Conventional financing is typically viewed as the most desirable type of financing by today’s sellers. There are many buyers who also utilize USDA (aka Rural Housing loans) or FHA or VA government loans.
It’s important to seek counsel from a trusted loan officer/lender. Ask them to explain the pros and cons for buyers – and for sellers. This allows buyers to understand seller ‘sentiment’ about the type of financing – especially important when there are multiple / competing offers for the home.
Tip #8 – Sellers Want To Know Who’s Buying Their Home!
Most sellers are curious why buyers want to purchase their property. Is this a rental? Is this going to be a long-term residence? Who will occupy the home? What features make buyers certain this is ‘the’ right home?
Sometimes writing a simple note to accompany the offer (consider including pictures, if desired.)
Selling a home can be emotional – and allowing sellers a glimpse into the buyers’ profile – can bring peace of mind and ease the process.
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