Updated: Jul 30
An offer on a property is a conditional proposal made by a buyer or seller. Your offer as a buyer will include an offer price, contingencies (conditions), potential support letters, and a pre-approval (especially in a competitive market).
The quality and content of your offer are almost as important as how much you're willing to pay for the property. Poorly written offers lessen the chance that buyers will get their offers accepted, and certain laws and rules can apply, so it's critical to do your research and get it done right.
Keep reading to find out what makes a winning offer letter.
Submit your mortgage pre-approval from a reputable, local lender. A pre-approval from an out-of-town or big-box lender can create doubt in the mind of a seller. For example, we've seen sellers disregard offers from buyers who are pre-approved by an internet lender. Give your seller every reason to believe your pre-approval is solid by working with a local bank or credit union.
Even better, work with a local lender who can deliver your loan commitment in two weeks or less. Yes, some lenders can get the job done this quickly. For more info, please reach out to us.
Ask your mortgage lender to email and call the listing agent on your behalf when you submit your offer. This simple touch gives the seller an extra boost of confidence that you'll close without any problems.
Partner with a realtor who has a proven track record in this year's market. Working with a proven team is even better. A team of real estate agents can work together to flexibly meet all your time-sensitive needs for viewing a property and writing your offer.
Write the seller's preferred closing date into your offer. In a competitive situation, you want to do all that you can to reasonably address the seller's preferred terms. Giving the seller their preferred closing date is a great way to tip the scales in your favor.
Write an above-average amount of earnest money into your offer. The typical earnest money check is about 1% of the offer price. Make your offer stand out by submitting a higher-than-average earnest money amount.
Make a stronger impression with your earnest money by submitting it with your offer.
If your finances allow, specify a down payment amount of at least 20%-25% in your financing contingency. This will help you gain an advantage over other buyers who are putting less money down.
Consider whether you need to include an appraisal contingency in your offer to purchase. Right now, many winning offers don't include this contingency. Talk to your buyer agent about the pluses and minuses of including an appraisal contingency in your offer to purchase.
Make your offer stronger by making it a cash offer - even if you end up purchasing with a mortgage. If you have accounts that demonstrate sufficient cash to close, you can use these accounts as proof of funds and submit a cash offer. Once your offer is accepted you can choose to finance with a mortgage instead. Contact us to learn more about the steps involved with this type of offer.
Don't make your offer contingent on the sale of your current home. Instead, work with your lender to get pre-approved for financing which doesn't require you to sell to buy. Of course, you can still work with your agent to sell your current home and buy your new one on the same day. See this article for a few tips on buying and selling at the same time.
Give your seller the "right to cure" defects in your home inspection contingency. Don't allow the seller to think you might back out of the offer by specifying "no right to cure".
Consider whether you should include a radon testing contingency in your offer. In a competitive situation, you might decide to test for radon after you purchase your home. Talk to your buyer agent about the pros and cons of using this approach.
Don't ask the seller to pay for a home warranty. An alternative way to protect yourself against future repair costs is to hire a good home inspector. A thorough home inspection will identify necessary repairs, which you and your agent can then negotiate as part of your home inspection contingency.
Don't ask the seller to pay any other extra fees. Closing costs and other extra fees affect the seller's bottom line and could cause you to miss out on your dream home.
Don't make your offer contingent upon the review of deed restrictions and covenants. Instead, do your homework upfront and review these documents before you submit your offer. If you're satisfied with your review, then submit your offer to purchase with this contingency excluded.
Consider other offer strategies such as an "escalation clause" or "writing first and countering last". Contact us to discuss how these two strategies can be used to your benefit in a multiple-offer situation.
As much as possible, shorten each contingency deadline (financing, inspection, etc.) to the fewest number of days possible. Talk to your buyer agent about an appropriate number of days for each contingency.
Hand delivers your offer. This can be especially helpful when writing an offer on a For Sale By Owner property. This gives your agent a face-to-face opportunity to clarify your interests in the property and establish rapport with the seller.
Consider a modified inspection contingency that limits credits or requests for repairs that are a result of the home inspection. Talk to one of our agents for more information on this contingency.
Consider a modified appraisal contingency which gives the seller peace of mind that you will not cancel your offer if the appraised value comes in under the contract price. Contact one of our team members for more specifics on this contingency.
If you include a modified appraisal contingency or waive the appraisal contingency, provide "proof of funds" which shows you can bring more cash to closing if the appraised value is lower than the contract price.
Work with an experienced buyer agent who goes the extra mile to communicate your interests. Too many buyer agents over-rely on texts and emails when communicating with listing agents. We recommend you hire a buyer representative who knows the value of calling the listing agent and explaining the merits of your offer. When you're up against other offers, your buyer agent's communication style can make or break your chances of getting your offer accepted.
Write your offer before showings are allowed, in other words, "sight unseen". Talk to your buyer agent about the nuances of this type of offer and how to structure it.
Make the seller's move easier by allowing the seller to rent back the property from you for a few days or a week after closing.
Offer to pay some or all the seller's closing costs. This can be a nice way to appeal to the seller's financial interests without causing the appraised value of the home to come in under the contract price.