Many home buyers are surprised to find themselves in a bidding war over a house when they’re in the market for their first property. When you’re up against other offers, you might be at the mercy of the seller and their agent, unless you know how to make your offer look more attractive to them.
The best way to get ahead during a bidding war is to have as much money as possible, but not every buyer can do that. Suppose you have your sights set on a specific house, and you’ve already done everything else in your power to make yourself an attractive buyer. In that case, one strategy is to make an offer that isn’t contingent on certain conditions—giving yourself an edge against other buyers.
In this article, we will discuss the guaranteed working tips on how to beat a contingent offer on a house to help you close that deal.
What Is A Cash Offer?
So, what is a cash offer anyway? Well, it’s basically an offer that comes from a buyer of a house. But not just any offer, a cash offer.
It’s considered one of the highest priorities for sellers because it means that they can sell their house quickly and avoid some mortgage complications on the seller’s side. It also means that the buyer does not require a loan, so there are fewer risks involved for both parties.
How Does A Cash Offer Matter In The Buying Process?
Cash offers are becoming an increasingly effective way to stand out in a competitive market. Sellers prefer cash offers because they provide faster sales and less hassle, as they won’t have to wait for the buyer to be approved for a mortgage loan. Additionally, cash offers don’t require financing contingencies, which can complicate the home buying process.
What Does A Contingent Offer Mean?
A contingent offer is a written agreement that says that the buyer and seller are entering into negotiations to sell their property, but only if certain conditions are met. The buyer pays a fee to the seller’s agent and signs an agreement that says he will buy the property if his financing falls through or if he can’t get approval from his board of directors or partners.
What Is A Non-Negotiable Contingency?
As you may guess from the name, a non-negotiable contingency means the seller has the right to reject any offer that comes with that contingency, no matter the offer price. Some examples of non-negotiable contingencies are:
This is when a buyer’s financing is dependent on their ability to get a loan or mortgage. If you have an all cash offer, you can use this to your advantage. You can forgo this step and close faster. If you want to keep the integrity of your deal, put in your offer with a pre-approval letter from your lender, so it’s easier for sellers to accept.
Home Sale Contingency
Before buying another home (the one being offered), they have to sell their current home. It can be challenging for sellers to accept offers with contingencies because they’re unsure if buyers will be able to sell their homes in time or at all! Consider offering lower than the asking price, so they’re more likely to choose you over other buyers who don’t have contingencies.
This contingency protects buyers if an appraisal comes in below competitive market value by allowing them a way out of the contract without losing their earnest money deposit (as long as buyers give notice within 3 days after receiving it).
Are Cash Offers On A House Common?
You’ve probably heard that cash is king when it comes to buying a home. It’s true! All cash offers are on the rise because they’re an excellent way for buyers to make a firm offer. Sellers love them because there’s no risk of the deal falling apart due to financing issues. You can create an all cash offer for any price range.
Thus, you’re not limited only to inexpensive properties, as you might think at first blush. If you have enough money in savings or other assets, making an all cash offer is a surefire way to beat out competitors in any real estate market (seller’s market, buyer’s market, balanced market).
How Long Does A House Stay In A Contingent Status?
Once an offer is accepted, the buyer and seller enter into an agreement known as a contingent contract. The contract is contingent on the buyer receiving approval from the bank to purchase the home. During this period, the seller still owns the house and does not change hands until the bank approves the loan.
So the question of how long does a house stay in a contingent status will depend on several factors, including:
– Whether or not there are any issues with obtaining financing for the home purchase.
– The buyer must wait for their bank to approve the transaction.
Tips On How to Beat A Cash Offer On A House
You might be tempted to scoff at the notion of a cash offer for a home, but if you’re going up against one, you’ll need all your negotiating power. If you want to avoid losing out on an ideal home due to a contingent offer, here’s how to beat a cash offer on a house:
1. It’s Time To Get Creative
The most important thing to remember when submitting an offer on a house is that you need to be creative. Did your uncle get his grandpa’s old watch at a garage sale and want to sell it for $10? How about giving him $20 for it?
When selling your house, it’s always better to give the buyer more than they expect. This will make them feel like they got a great deal and save you from having to make an ugly counteroffer later.
For example, instead of making a lowball offer of $250, try giving the potential buyer $350. It may seem as if you’re not offering enough until you know that the proposal is, in fact, higher than the actual market value of your house.
2. Make Your Offer A Bit Personal
In the competitive world of real estate, it’s common for sellers to receive multiple offers. If you’re facing a contingent offer, there are tricks you can try to make your offer look more appealing than the rest.
First and foremost, try to find out as much as you can about the seller. Social media can be your friend in this regard. Do they have an account? What are their interests? How about a bank account? Do they like cats?
If so, send over a picture of yours with your letter (of course, if they are allergic, it wouldn’t be a good idea). If you know where they are moving, where they work or went to school, or what their favorite sports team is, use that information in the letter! The point is to make them feel like they know you and that you aren’t just another faceless buyer trying to take advantage of their situation.
Moreover, you may also include a heartfelt letter with your offer. This will help establish trust and connection between yourself and the seller because they’ll see that not only do you have an interest in buying their property but also in them as people (two birds with one stone!) It will also show them how much this house means to you. And at the end of the day, we all know how important money is, but feelings come first!
3. Speed Up The Process With More Effort
Making an offer? Be sure to make every effort to speed up the process. Before you start making offers, get pre-approved for a mortgage. This is as simple as talking to a lender and/or finding a mortgage broker or just calling your bank and seeing what they can offer you.
Gather your financial documents and check your credit score and credit report. You’ll need all of this information on hand when you talk to the lender, and they’ll be able to give you a good idea of how much money you can get based on what’s in your budget.
Once you’ve got that price figure in mind, it’s time to make some offers! The seller will appreciate that you’ve made an effort to be prepared by getting pre-approved for financing before submitting a proposal. This is especially true if there are other buyers out there who haven’t pre-qualified yet.
4. Offer To Cover Any Appraisal Gap
Offering to cover the appraised value can make your purchase more appealing. You can anticipate or prepare an offer for the difference between the appraisal and sales price of the home. When you do this, you tell both the seller and their agent that you want to be in this home and will do what it takes to ensure they get what they want in a sale.
Be sure you only offer this if you can follow through with it. Only do it if you have access to the cash required. Suppose there is an issue later on when it comes time for closing, and you cannot pay. In that case, there could be repercussions set forth by your lender, real estate broker, or even legal action brought on by either party involved in selling a house.
5. Let The Seller Understand That The Offer Is Safe And Secure
If you’ve been searching for a home and have finally come across your dream property, you may be tempted to jump at the chance and make an offer on it. However, if you find out that the seller has another request from someone else, you’ll need to act quickly if you want to beat out the competition and get your house of choice. To do so, make sure that the seller knows that your offer is secure by:
Make A Large Earnest Money Deposit (EMD)
Earnest money is an initial payment made by a buyer when buying a home to show that they are serious about closing the deal. The deposit will go towards your down payment if all goes as planned. When competing with other buyers, put down as much EMD as possible. You’ll stand apart from others who are making smaller deposits.
Use A Local Bank Escrow Account
An escrow account is where funds are held temporarily until they can be used for their intended purpose, in this case, paying off the rest of the home’s price after closing. Use an escrow account based in your area.
It will show that you’re already familiar with real estate practices in this city or state and are more likely to close on time than someone who has never bought property there before and may not know how things work yet.
Get Your Down Payment From A Local Bank
One of the most significant factors in whether or not sellers choose buyers is whether those buyers seem like people who can successfully close on their offers. Therefore, having access to large amounts of money upfront makes them more likely to consider someone credible as a buyer.
6. Be Prepared To Be Flexible And Negotiate
Suppose you’ve done everything possible to better your chances of beating a contingent offer on a house and still can’t find success. In that case, it may be time to accept that you won’t get the house. That being said, if you didn’t get the house because your bid was too low, don’t give up hope just yet!
If you have the means to afford a higher bid, there is no reason why your offer wouldn’t be accepted. Nothing is stopping you from offering a higher amount except yourself!
So what amount should you consider bidding? Well, that depends on any number of factors, such as how much money you have saved up, how aggressively other people are bidding on the same property, and how much the seller will accept for their home.
While it might be impossible to know what other cash buyers are offering until the seller accepts an offer, it will at least help in learning how others are bidding so that you can decide whether or not beating out their offers is even possible.
7. Skip Or Immediately Schedule A Home Inspection
When you hear a house is a contingent, it means the sale is dependent on something, usually an inspection. That added step can make a home take longer to sell.
The best way to move things along? If you can afford it, skip the inspection and ask your realtor for recommendations for quality inspectors in the area.
If you can’t afford to pay for repairs without an inspection contingency, then schedule your inspector immediately. This will speed up the process rather than waiting until after you’ve already made an offer. A good realtor should have referrals of inspectors they know and trust.
8. Offer The Seller To Rent Back The Property
This may be your winning bid if you can offer them more time in the house. You can allow a seller extra time to move beyond the closing date, but be sure to discuss with your real estate agent how long an extension might work.
Also, consider offering the seller rent for their continued use of the house. This will benefit both of you:
– You’ll be collecting money on a place you own, and they can live in it until they find another home. Be sure to charge fair market rental prices during these weeks so that you don’t lose money from your purchase price or mortgage payment.
– The seller will appreciate your flexibility. If they have already moved into a new home, they probably won’t need much time after closing anyway.
9. Consider Making A Part Of Your Earnest Money Non-Refundable
When you are making an offer on a house with multiple offers, the seller will want to see that you are serious about buying the house. One way to show the seller that you are serious about buying the home is by making a portion of your EMD non-refundable. This does not mean that you won’t get your money back if the deal falls apart before closing for some reason.
When a portion of your EMD is non-refundable, it means that if the deal falls apart before closing because you decided not to move forward with the purchase (for any reason other than those stipulated in your contract), then you will lose this amount of money.
This amount can be negotiated in most cases. Still, it is generally $500 or 1% of the price (whichever is less) and should be clearly spelled out in your contract.
10. Let The Seller Choose Their Desired Closing Date
One of the best ways to beat a contingent offer on a house is to work with the seller and their real estate agent to ensure you can meet the seller’s desired closing date. In most cases, this is preferable to pushing for an earlier date than what the home sellers have in mind.
Once you know when the current owners would like to close, research your mortgage lender’s requirements for closing. The closer you can get to matching these dates, the more likely it will be that your offer will be accepted. Most lenders require 30-45 days from application approval before they fund a loan, so keep that in mind during this process.
11. Consider An Alternative Like A Homelight Cash Offer
Another way to beat a contingent offer on a house is by other means of getting cash. This can be done by using a cash buyer that can close on your dream home in as little as 10 days once they’ve reached an agreement with the seller. One way to make this happen is through a Homelight cash offer, which might be able to provide you with a cash offer.
When you accept their cash offer, you are under no obligation to go through with them in any way, shape, or form. Think about it like this, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain in terms of HomeLight’s cash offer.
If nothing else, it could give you some extra bargaining power when dealing with the seller who has already received at least one contingent offer for the house in question and will likely receive more before all is said and done.
In the end, you should remember that the more you know about the home buying process, the better able you will be to make a winning offer on your dream house. A little research and some common sense can help you position yourself for success in your home purchase.
There are many things you can do to make your offer stand out. Putting down a larger down payment is one option, but there are other ways to show that you’re serious about buying a house as well.
If needed, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help from a trusted real estate agent such as HOMES by ARDOR. These competitive agents have insights into various process aspects that aren’t necessarily obvious to first-time buyers!
Kris Reid is the CEO of Ardor SEO, a company that helps real estate professionals get more leads and customers to predictably grow their business.
Over the years, Kris acquired extensive knowledge of SEO and its practical applications in various industries, with the main focus on real estate.
In 2021 Ardor launched the Icons of Real Estate Podcast to share proven strategies from the top producing icon agents with the real estate community.
After obtaining the real estate license in 2022, Kris joined eXp Realty and launched Homes by Ardor, the platform that was built to be the fastest way to buy or sell a house. Homes by Ardor also provides leads for its partner companies and realtors.
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