Real estate agents answer: What makes a winning offer?

How do you make a winning offer and stand out from the crowd when purchasing your first home? Real estate agents share their best advice and break down real estate concepts for first-time homebuyers.

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Unfortunately for buyers, these days, it is definitely a seller's market. Inventory is low and, increasingly, multiple buyers are finding themselves competing over the same few properties, which begs the question: How do you make your offer stand out from the crowd?

With that in mind, I went straight to the source and asked industry professionals to share their best advice on what makes a winning offer. Here is what they had to say:

Offer your highest and best:

"If it is really a home you like, I would suggest making an offer that's as close to the list price as possible, if not above. Most desirable homes are getting multiple offers within the first week of being on the market, so offers below list price are not even being reviewed. Of course, you should only offer up to where you feel comfortable, but if you want to be competitive against multiple offers, make sure your offer is your highest and best."

- Ralph DiBugnara, President, Home Qualified

Find out what the seller wants:

"Don't make the offer all about money. Ask what the seller wants. Your agent should find out what the sellers' needs are in advance—whether it's a specific closing timeframe, a lease back, or any items excluded from sale—and include those things in the opening offer. This shows that you are flexible and willing to make the sale easy on the seller."

- Mimi McCormick, Agent, Pacific Union International

Write an offer letter:

"I always encourage buyers to write a letter to the seller introducing them to who they are and why they're interested in the home. I suggest keeping it short and easily digestible—2 paragraphs at most. The first paragraph can be about exactly how they felt when they first walked in to the property, and the second is about the buyer themselves, so that the seller can feel a strong emotional connection to them."

- Lisa Lyons, Senior Sales Associate, Climb Real Estate

Act quickly:

"In real estate, timing is everything. Act quickly to get your offer in ahead of the deadline. Generally, the faster you can submit an offer, the better your chances because your offer becomes the guidepost in which other offers will be evaluated."

- Riccardo Ravasini, Managing Agent, Rava Realty

Limit contingencies:

"Do whatever you can to eliminate risk from your offer. Often buyers want to add a laundry list of contingencies—like inspections or the sale of their current home—to the offer for their own benefit. However, the seller is trying to reduce all potential for a buyer to back out of an offer and accepting an offer multiple contingencies is a risk. I encourage my clients to do some homework and really prioritize their contingencies to include only the essentials."

- Chris Taylor, Broker, Advantage Real Estate

Make your offer 'as-is':

"Agreeing to buy the home 'as is' essentially means that you are agreeing to purchase the home in its current condition and releasing the sellers from the responsibility of making any repairs. In this case, any inspections the buyer elects will be for informational purposes only, meaning that any repairs will be the buyer's responsibility. This move is attractive from the sellers' point of view because it increases their net profit."

- Johnny Mansilla, Broker, Nestseekers International

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Article copyright 2018 by Forbes. Reprinted from the June 27, 2018 issue with permission from Forbes.
The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Fidelity Investments cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any statements or data.
This reprint is supplied by Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC.
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