11 ways to win a bidding war

by Liz Hughes

In the most competitive real estate market in history, agents are pulling out all the stops to help their clients win bidding wars. Local agents shared some of the tactics they use to help their clients win the house of their dreams. 

From large down payments to pre-inspections, skipping contingencies and everything in between, here are some tips from four Boston-area agents.

Pre-inspections: Inspecting the home before making an offer can give the buyer an advantage by allowing them to move quickly, LAER Realty Partners Broker Mona DeRosby said. “Make an appointment to inspect the home before making the offer, so you can put in the offer waiving the contingency,” she said. 

Meet the seller’s needs: Real Living Suburban Lifestyle Agent Michele Taranto recommended taking steps to meet the seller’s unique needs. Before making an offer, Taranto often checks with the listing agent to see if there’s anything in particular the sellers want, such as a flexible closing date. 

Relationship building: Relationship building goes a long way and can be a difference-maker, according to Leading Edge Real Estate Agent Katie Gillis-Ware. Working well with other agents can make the difference between winning or losing an offer, even if you don’t have the highest or strongest bid. 

“This has happened to me on both sides,” Gillis-Ware said. “If you have a good relationship with the listing agent from past transactions, that could definitely work in your favor. They want to make sure they have a nice smooth transaction for their seller and will most likely want to work with you again over other agents that may not have been so easy to work with.”

Skip the contingencies: While risky, skipping contingencies, even home inspections, could be necessary to close a deal in a competitive environment, Donahue Real Estate Co. Agent Laura O’Brien said. 

“Although you are taking an enormous risk, the seller does not want to have to deal with putting the home back on the market if the buyer backs out after home inspection or wants to renegotiate after inspection,” she said, recommending thorough showings in lieu of formal inspections. “Test appliances, look for cracks in the foundation, look for signs of plumbing leaks and that lights are in working order. 

Waiving cash back at closing and having the buyer sell their current home ahead of their next purchase can also help, she said.

Solid financial backing: Connecting someone with a great bank with a good reputation is another one of DeRosby’s tactics. “The listing agent will see that and be comfortable knowing it’s someone who gets the job done,” she said. 

O’Brien agreed: “I have worked with a mortgage broker for the last nine years or so who always gets the job done. She is on her game and very responsive. When my clients work with her, I am thrilled because I am putting together a team (along with a closing attorney) that I know and trust. As part of my offer, I spell out who all the players are: The agent (me), the bank, the closing attorney (and sometimes home inspector) with contact information.”

Use and occupancy: Allowing the seller to live in the property after closing is another tactic DeRosby uses, adding that she’s won offers for clients by doing just that. 

Go in with your best offer: O’Brien said the current market does not allow for much back and forth, so going in with the client’s best offer is often the way to go. 

Tight time frames: Keeping a tight time frame, from going right to purchase and sale to doing a home inspection within a few days can be a big help, DeRosby said. “It’s important because if someone wants a 30-day close, they have to be able to do things quickly, move quickly, because appraisers are really backed up,” she said. 

Large down payments: A large down payment shows your client is a serious buyer and a better candidate for getting their loan approved, while a small down payment could indicate the buyer is more of a risk for getting the loan approved,  O’Brien said.

A personal touch: A quick note from buyer to seller explaining why the client loves the home can also help, both O’Brien and DeRosby said. O’Brien said hand-delivering the offer can make the difference in multiple-offer listings. 

Make sure your buyers are educated: Gillis-Ware said it’s important the buyers understand the current market environment. “As a buyer’s agent, I don’t think it’s in the buyer’s best interest to waive home inspections and appraisal language, but as a seller’s agent, I can tell you those are the offers that are winning in this market,” she said. “There is a lot of risk for buyers in today’s market.”

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