In highly competitive markets, it can be difficult to put in a successful offer for the home that you want. Great houses seem to be sold before the listings are an hour old. These tips can help keep you competitive and make it more likely that you will get the home that you really want:

1. Use an escalation clause.

Worried that your bid won’t be accepted? An escalation clause allows you to incrementally increase your bid up to a certain limit if other offers come in. Make sure that your escalation clause has clear limits. You do not want to get stuck in a bidding war that goes over what you want to pay for a home. One such clause would be one that allows, for instance, for an increase of $2,000 each bid with a maximum of $225,000. This allows for a large enough increase, but also protects you from paying too much.

2. Write a winning offer letter.

Sometimes the personal touch can put you over the top. When you find a house you love, write a letter to the seller telling them how much it would mean to you to live there. It is not over the top to include a picture or two of your family. Tell them what you like about the home and what makes you an excellent buyer. Many sellers choosing between several buyers can be swayed by a letter that shows just how much you’d appreciate their home.

3. Cultivate an excellent reputation online.

Many seller’s agents will look up buyers online to see if they are likely to be able to successfully close. Make sure that your online reputation is free from blemishes like online conflicts or posts that indicate instability at your job. Google yourself to ensure that what comes up paints a flattering picture. You can use special privacy tools on Facebook to see what onlookers will see. Make sure your LinkedIn is up to date and demonstrates your financial stability. If you use sites like Instagram, consider sticking with screen names that are non-identifying.

4. Remove as many contingencies as possible.

Many of the other buyers who you are up against may have to wait to sell their current home or will need approval from their bank or spouse. By making sure that you are ready to sign as quickly as possible, you can jump ahead of others and get the home that you really want. Some buyer contingencies such as the inspection contingency may be held on to however, as it is never great to purchase a home with serious issues. One type of contingency you may want to use is an escalation clause, as it benefits the buyer and seller since the buyer is committing to raising their offer by a certain amount if outbid.

5. Expand your search and offer.

If you are finding that your budget is not realistic for your area, see if you can increase your offer. You can also expand your search geographically or consider different home styles than you were previously thinking about. The more flexible you are, the greater your chances of making a deal fast.

If you have very specific requirements or you are looking for a house in a market with very low inventory, it can take some time to find the right home for you. By continuing to patiently look and employing the tips above, you can shorten your search and make a competitive offer for the house that you really want.

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