What are the Secrets to getting YOUR offer accepted?

You just saw a home. Your excited about the future. You can picture yourself coming home from work to your new home, working in the yard, or in the garage, or preparing dinner for the family. This new home is everything you could want. There is only one problem. Many other buyers feel the same way and there are multiple offers on the property. No longer is the goal negotiating the best price, it is simply getting the home, without having to pay too much.

Since the first of the year, there has been a lack of inventory. Rates have also dropped from 5 percent down to 4 percent over the last year which has only exacerbated the situation. Multiple offers are now quite common place. Recently I sold a home in Lakewood at 6123 Silva. Within only 2 days of marketing time, 8 offers stacked up.

When this happens, what strategies should a buyer and their agent employ? If you are a buyer reading this, many of these suggestions will be for your agent. Hopefully you have an agent that knows how to navigate the current real estate waters. Either way here is a quick checklist of do’s and don’ts.


1) Strongly consider overbidding:
You would be shocked how many buyers just write a full price offer, or a full price offer and then ask the seller to pay $5,000 of their closing costs. The number of offers received should give agents a good idea of what type of pricing pressure and competition they might face. Yet why then does a buyers agent just write a full price offer, and  nothing to distinguish their buyers offer from the other? Certainly there may be times when a buyer may only be able to offer the list price based upon their financial abilities, but in most instances the agent didn’t ask how many offers there were or simply lacks the ability to know what to do with this knowledge.

Maybe a buyers agent thinks that they will get a counter offer anyway, so they don’t need to put forth their best offer right away? Not always true. What if another buyer offers $5,000 or $10,000 more, with a properly written offer, and all the proper documentation. The seller may just accept that offer. Why should a seller work to get a buyer up to a price they are happy with, when another buyer is already willingly offering? If there are 8 offers, it is unnecessary to counter all the offers. If counter offers are generated, only the best offers get countered. Besides, your goal should be to have the seller NOT want to generate counter offers to other parties. You want to contain the bidding war not promote it.

Know value. If there are 8 offer in 2 days, might it be a logical conclusion that the home will sell for $10,000 more than list? Yet most offers right now are just congregating around the list price. Are these agent not paying attention? Eight offers, two days…. Hello?

2) Provide all relevant financial documentation:
Make sure that along with the offer, you have provided bank statements, FICO scores, Debt Ratio’s, a prequal letter, and best of all DU underwriting approval. As a buyer you may not know what each of these items are, but your agent should. In addition it doesn’t hurt to provide a personal letter with a photo. Having the seller want you to have the home doesn’t hurt.

3) Ask Questions and Communicate:
Getting your offer written right the first time eliminates the need for a counter offer. Does the seller need a 60 day escrow, do they need a rent back, are they willing to leave the stove, washer dryer etc. These are all questions that if asked could help accommodate the sellers needs, without requiring you to pay more.

Your agent should go on a fishing expedition. They should be asking the listing agent leading questions like. My buyer was thinking of writing an offer $5,000 over list price, do you have offers already better than that? What are the sellers biggest concerns? When are offers going to be presented. Then, once your buyers agent has faxed, emailed or personally delivering the offer (personal delivery is a good thing), your buyers agent should be calling to make sure they have got it, reviewed it and see if they have any questions, and then re-iterate the best points of the offer.

Then your buyers agent should be calling the listing agent back shortly before these offers are going to be presented and asking, “Did you receive more offers? Did any of them look particularly good? Should I be revising my front page? (front page – code for price).

Your buyers agent should be a pleasant pest, by checking in with the listing agent. I want the listings agent to know, through my actions how badly my buyers want the property. I want that agent to feel like crap if they have to deliver bad news, then hopefully they will select our offer, so they don’t have to disappoint me and my buyer.

4) Use a significant deposit:
Escrow holds the deposit. There is no risk of loosing your deposit, if you do your job as a buyer and stay within the confines of contract. So why on earth would a buyers agent suggest a $2,000 deposit, when a $10,000 is just as easy. Alright, so maybe you don’t have $10,000 in your checking and need some time to move money. Make it a $5,000 deposit and increase it to $10,000 after 10 days. The size of the deposit is just another items which conveys a buyer’s commitment. Let the other agent and seller know you are committed.

5) Keep time frames short:
As a listing agent (representing the seller), I will always tighten the time frame that a buyer has to perform a physical inspection and approve/ disapprove of the property from the default 17 days to 10 days. This is because within this time frame the buyer can back out for ANY reason. If I am representing the seller, I certainly don’t want the buyer coming back on the 17th day and saying they changed their mind. But what if I am representing a buyer? Do we really need 17 days to make up our mind? A home inspection takes 2 hours and can be performed within days of being requested. In addition, I prefer that my buyer be at the home inspection with the inspector  going through the home with a fine tooth comb. At the end of this inspection a buyer should have a very good idea if they want to proceed. Yes sometimes there might be specific trades where a real bid for work is required, but a buyer can always ask for an extension for this specific item.

So if a buyer doesn’t need 17 days to make up their mind, why would you ask for this much time. There is no additional protection to the buyer. Keep time frames only to what is required to get the job done. Sellers don’t want to take their home off the market for a buyer that appears undecided.

6) Have your lender call:
Out of these 8 offers that were received, only ONE lender called me. In representing a buyer, I always ask my lender to call the listing agent. My real hope is that the listing agent actually know the lender. Then I know my offer may actually get preference based upon the lender that I have selected. If you think like a listing agent, then you will know why this is important. The qualify of the listing agents work, is only as good as the people he selects to work along side him. If the lender falls down on the job, lies, or is incompetent, then a sellers move may be delayed or impacted in some manor. For this reason, if you are a buyer, it is preferable to use a lender that your agent may have referred to you, or somebody that you have had past dealings with that you know you can count on. Your lender is part of your team and needs to be ready and willing to sell your qualification to the listing agent, so your offer rises above that of the others.


1) Don’t allow your agent to choose their providers, use “sellers’s choice” when writing the contract:
For the life of me, I don’t know why a buyers agent would right in their escrow company and/or title company. As I said before, a listing agent is only as good as the team he puts together. The listing agent needs to know that the transaction is progressing along, and if they don’t have their normal service providers communication is compromised. As a buyer, you just want the home. Usually you don’t care if it is escrow company ABC or XYZ. So why then would your buyers agent write in the office controlled escrow company. Do they get points from the broker? Or some other type of compensation? There is no benefit to you, the buyer, and a listing agent will then only have to counter this out, and will left with a weird taste in their mouth.

2) Don’t ask for the seller to pay costs if you believe an appraisal might be a problem:
Appraisals are a problem right now. Specifically for some of the nicer homes. This is because prices have ticked up a little in the last 3-4 months, and appraisers are behind the times. Asking for a seller to pay your closing costs only increases the likeliness of an appraisal problem.

3) Don’t write the offer based upon the minimum down, if you have more money:
I am not saying to put more down, just write up the offer showing a larger down payment if you have the money in the bank to show a greater down. In now way is this lying, so let me explain. Lets say you have enough for 10% down, but really prefer to put down only the minimum 3.5% down. The front page of the purchase contract shows how you plan on financing the property, only as it relates to the the loan contingency. By writing the offer with 10% down, you are simply stating that if I don’t qualify for a 3.5% down loan, I am willing to put 10% down. It doesn’t mean that you can’t apply for the 3.5% down loan, and if approved proceed with the loan of your choice. It only means that you are willing to put down more if necessary.

While I might seem like I am a “ball buster” when I am in the “listing agent” role, I completely change gears when representing a buyer. When asked to jump, I ask “How High?”. It is not that I am not looking out for the buyer, it is just the opposite, if I cross my t’s, dot my i’s, and get the listing agent everything they want. Then I get the buyer what they want, their dream home, at the best price possible.

Only the first item that I suggested “Strongly Consider Overbidding”, involved paying more for the home. All other suggestions are free. The goal should be to not pay more than necessary, but when so many buyers agents screw up on just the basics, it usually involves not getting the home no matter what. We often hear stories of buyers that have written 5 – 10 offers with their previous agents, and never got a home. This is not uncommon, and we are sorry for the emotional turmoil that this has put you through.

If you find yourself writing a lot of offer with your agent and aren’t getting anywhere, maybe it isn’t you, the buyer, maybe your agent doesn’t have the experience to know how to make your offer competitive.