How To Survive – And Win – During The Spring And Summer Homebuying Season In Oakland

Joe Dickerson Group
Joe Dickerson Group
Published on April 9, 2018

We love helping people find and buy homes. We especially love helping first-time buyers learn the ins and outs of the process and the market. However, it can be a daunting process with the competitive market here in Oakland and in the San Francisco Bay Area in General.

Working with first-time buyers and those on tight budgets during last spring’s overheated sellers’ market was heartbreaking. So many offers made and so many passed over in favor of higher or all-cash bids.

One of the most frequently-asked questions we received was

“Aside from increasing the amount of money we’re offering, what else can we do to win in a multiple-offer situation?”

As we head into the thick of the spring and summer 2018 season here in Oakland, we will no doubt hear this question again, so today, we want to share with you some tips that just might win you that home.

Write a personal letter to the seller

Letters to the seller get a bad rap from some in the industry, but we’ve found them to be quite effective.

Ensure that the letter will connect emotionally with the seller. Explain, specifically, why you love the home and how living in it will affect your family.

 

For example, some of our clients have written heartfelt letters about how much they love specific features of the home, how they envision barbecues in the backyard, and how they would love to bring their babies home from the hospital to an adorable nursery in that back bedroom.

Further, these personal letters are especially effective when accompanied by a photograph of yourself and, if you have one, your family.

 

These letters are definitely not a guarantee that you’ll have the winning offer, but for the right buyer and the right situation, a heartfelt letter just might give you that extra edge you need.

 

Need ideas? Here are some recently published sample letters that might just do the trick.

Don’t nickel and dime the seller over the small stuff

It’s tempting to want the seller to fix even the little things that show up on a home inspection report. If you truly love the home, and the inspection report doesn’t show any major problems, avoid that temptation and leave out requests that the seller make or pay for repairs.

The cleaner your offer, the more likely it will stand out among others. And, after price, the seller will look at other aspects of the contract that will cost him or her money when deciding on which offer to accept.

Increase your earnest money deposit

What sellers want most, aside from the most money possible, is to know that when they take the home off the market after getting an offer, the sale will go through.

To reassure the seller that you are serious about the purchase, increase the amount of your earnest money deposit.

The earnest money deposit, by the way, is a cash deposit – typically a certain percentage of the offering price.

It’s held in escrow and applied toward the purchase price at closing. It can, however, be forfeited if you breach the contract.

An increase in good faith money shows an increase in good faith – and sellers love that.

Agree to be flexible with your closing date

Believe it or not, we’ve seen buyers win a bidding war against higher offers just by being flexible on the closing date.

Some sellers need more time to move out, so offering to close on their preferred date, or even to rent back the home to them after closing, may be a way to win in a multiple offer situation.

If the home is vacant, offer to close more quickly, if possible. Of course, you’ll need to get with your lender to determine how quickly you can close, but this is an attractive offer to a seller with carrying costs inherent in a vacant home.

If all else fails

If you’ve ever been in a multiple-offer situation, you know that the seller may find another offer to purchase more attractive than yours. If this is the home of your dreams, consider making a backup offer which will put you next in line if the chosen buyer backs out of the purchase.

The backup offer, when accepted by the seller, is a binding contract, so make sure you have your lending in order before submitting it.

Sure, it sounds like a long shot, but backup offers frequently become primary offers, so they’re worth considering when the home is exactly what you want.

Still have questions? Reach out to us – we love talking about real estate!

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