8 Creative Ways To Get Your Offer Accepted

Sometimes, you have to get a little creative to stand out in this busy market.

Over the past year, the real estate market has been so hot that it’s not unusual for homes to sell the day it gets listed. (The lack of inventory is to blame.) When properties that need serious work are even breaking price records, it is easy to feel discouraged if you’re trying to buy right now.

Don’t give up, though. Getting your offer accepted isn’t necessarily about coming in with the biggest bag of money. It’s really being able to anticipate what, exactly, the seller’s goals are and creating the offer that solves all of their problems. While your agent will weigh in with a strategy based on your market, there are a few common ways you can make your offer stand out. 

So, what can you do to get that perfect house you’ve searched for high and low? These 8 tips might push your offer to the front of the line.

1. Hire an agent that communicates effectively

A large part of getting an offer accepted is the communication between your real estate agent and the seller's real estate agent. If your agent can communicate effectively, the deal has a higher chance of success. Your agent should be asking the seller's real estate agent what their client needs to get out of this deal. Is it the most money possible? Is it a specific timeframe, or do they need to rent the property back while searching for a new home? Knowing those needs and submitting an offer that meets them is vital.

2. Get in early

Staying in touch with your real estate agent pays off big. They’ll let you know as soon as homes enter the market, especially if they have many connections to other agents. Sometimes, agents will hear directly from other agents about a home that’s about to get listed — or that won’t enter the MLS at all (this is typically called a “pocket listing”). Regardless of how your real estate agent finds the home that fits your needs, be the first to book a showing and get ready to make an offer on the spot.

3. Be prepared to go over asking

This is not the market for making low offers and hoping to grab a bargain. You will have to make your offer strong enough to beat out a multiple-bid situation. If you want the house, you’re likely going to have to go above the asking price. Making an offer above asking price doesn't necessarily mean you are paying over it's market value. In Toronto's market, many homes are currently being listed substantially below market value. You'll need your agent to help you determine its actual market value and that's the price you'll want to offer around.

4. Offer a larger deposit

The deposit is typically made 24hrs from when the seller accepts your offer and is held in the brokerage trust account. It’s not “extra” money because it’ll eventually be applied towards the purchase price. The typical amount is 5% of the purchase price and due within 24hrs of the seller accepting your offer. However, if you want to let a seller know that you’re serious, you can offer more money to convey this. Remember, this money is potentially at risk if the deal falls through, so make sure you’re confident in the home and your offer.

5. Write a letter to the sellers

Making an offer on a property can seem intimidating, but you should always remember that the seller is just another human like you. While some sellers only care about the price, others are emotionally attached to their homes and want to make sure it will be in good hands, so including a letter with an offer may boost your chances of getting accepted. Your letter doesn’t have to be formal, just a short note thanking the owners for their time in considering your bid. Expand on why you love the home and what caught your eye. If there’s a feature that sparked your interest, it’s an opportunity to build a personal connection. For example, a lovingly-tended garden or a kitchen with all the bells and whistles that a home cook would love. Above all, be honest and genuine. All of this will reassure them that you’re the right person with whom to make a deal.

6. Be flexible

If you’re open to the seller choosing the closing date, you may just get an edge over other offers, especially if the home just went on the market. Think of it this way: Sellers are also usually trying to find another home while selling theirs and may need more time. Or they may have already bought their new home and need to have this one sold to coincide with that date.

7. Nix the contingencies — when it makes sense to do so

A contingency is something that makes your offer conditional based on something happening. The three most common contingencies in a buyer’s offer are financing, home inspection, and if it's a condo, status certificate review. Making an offer contingent on these terms, or any other terms, presents multiple opportunities for the transaction to fall through. If you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage, and you’re confident that the property wouldn’t appraise at a lower value, discuss with your real estate and mortgage agents whether or not you need to include a financing contingency. If the seller has had the property inspected by a reputable company, or you are able to get your own home inspector in there to inspect prior to making the offer, you may feel comfortable removing the home inspection condition. And if there is a status certificate available, you can get your lawyer to review it in advance of the offer so that you don't need to make it conditional on status. There are risks involved with not including contingencies so please make sure you have all the info and discuss with the professionals before choosing to go this route.

8. Make sure you have your ducks in a row

Ensuring that you have your paperwork sorted, deposit money available, your downpayment funds ready to go, and your real estate agent ready to write an offer as soon as you find "the one" will make the entire process go as smoothly as possible.

The first types of offers that sellers will likely reject are ones from only pre-qualified buyers for a mortgage. Pre-qualification means that a mortgage company has really just taken a glance at your financials to give you a rough estimate on what the amount and interest rate would be. (Often, pre-qualification doesn’t even involve a credit check.) In a seller’s eyes, this means that a lot of things could sink the transaction.

Instead, get a pre-approval. This is a more rigorous process that will look at your credit report, verify pay stubs, bank statements, and other financial documents. If you pass their underwriting requirements, the lender will give you the actual numbers for the mortgage you’ll be able to get once you find a home (and then provide you with a letter to provide as proof).

While they may seem small, these things can go a long way to making your offer stand out and get you the home of your dreams. Establishing that you’re a serious buyer, with the financial capabilities to meet all obligations, is the way to a seller’s heart. Be willing to go the extra mile, both in your intention and in your financial offerings. If you do so, the seller of your dream home will notice your effort and give your offer a second glance.

Happy bidding!

If you're thinking about buying a home this spring, let's start your search. I'll do everything I can to get your offer accepted.