The highest price is not always the winning offer: How to make the best purchase offer in a seller’s market

You’ve made all the right decisions on your real estate search journey, you’ve worked with a Realtor® to scour the listings, toured what feels like a million houses and finally found it: the house you want to call home. The next step? Make your purchase offer; and if you are like most people, the prospect can seem quite intimidating. Especially in a seller’s market. There often can be even more pressure on the buyer to submit an impressive bid. How can you make sure that the offer you submit is the one that is accepted? Here’s some advice from UCBR President, Peter Ilani.

“In a seller’s market, home prices are higher and inventory is lower,” says Ilani. “This means you are more likely competing with multiple bidders. In a competitive market like this, buyers need every advantage they can get, and working with a Realtor® to make the best purchase offer is a smart move.” And, believe it or not, it’s not always the bid with the highest price that wins.

“Of course, sellers want to get the best price for their home, but that isn’t always the deciding factor,” says Ilani. “Eliminating or reducing the number of contingencies with your bid, through things like pre-offer inspections, can also help make your offer stronger. The bid that causes the least amount of hassle for the seller is the one that will probably win.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that we recommend you should just submit a below market offer with no contingencies. “This is not the time to make a lowball offer,” said Ilani. “When you are going up against more than one potential buyer, it’s the time to put your best foot forward.” This might be your one chance to convince the owner to sell their home to you, so it’s even more important to submit your best possible purchase offer.”

If you plan to pay cash for your home, chances are your bid will be accepted. Sellers’ appreciate all-cash offers as they usually mean a quick, streamlined purchase. Financing issues, such as delays in mortgage approval or getting funds moved from the buyer’s bank account, are the primary causes of delays in the closing process. If a seller can avoid a lengthy or complicated process by choosing an all-cash buyer, they likely will.

For most people however, a cash offer isn’t a possibility, and you’ll likely need to qualify for some variety of mortgage financing. If this is your situation, Ilani recommends getting pre-approved for a mortgage before you begin the search process. “With loan pre-approval, you’ll be able to make a solid commitment to buy, and your offer will be more appealing to the seller,” said Ilani.

Ilani’s last bit of advice? “The most important thing that you can do to give yourself an advantage is to hire a Realtor. Realtors have real insights and unparalleled knowledge of your local market and can help you navigate the complicated home buying process.”

Visit to find more information on the home buying process, as well as check out the vast network of local Realtors ® to work with on your real estate buying process.

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