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Buying in a Seller’s Market: Make Your Offer Rise to the Top

by | Jan 11, 2018 | Real Estate Transactions

In a seller’s market, potential buyers outnumber available homes. So, from the moment you stake a For Sale sign in your front lawn, buyers will begin lining up to see your home.

When we sold our home last fall, the market definitely favoured sellers. We listed our home on a Wednesday and held open houses on Saturday and Sunday—each drawing over 100 families. By Monday evening we had six solid offers. We were sellers in a seller’s market, and things were looking good.

Yet when we accepted an offer, our carefree days as sellers were over. We crossed over and joined the masses roaming the internet in search of the perfect home in a desirable neighbourhood. We became buyers in a seller’s market.

We looked at homes and placed offers, but found ourselves on the outside. We missed out on at least three places we liked because we couldn’t sweeten our offers by adding more money or eliminating subjects. While others shook hands and signed forms, we continued to browse real estate sites, looking for a head start on a new listing.

We realized that we needed to get creative, so we met with our real estate agent to brainstorm ways to make our offers more attractive. Here’s what we came up with:

Offer more money

Seems obvious, right? This might be the most straightforward way to boost your offer’s appeal, but it’s not always an option. For instance, we were determined to stick to our budget and avoid bidding wars.

Include as few subjects as possible

As sellers, we chose an offer with no subjects—it gave us added confidence that the deal would hold up, and we could start shopping for our new home with less stress and a well-defined budget.

Yet as buyers, we knew we wouldn’t be able to place a subject-free offer. We had always planned to play it safe (read more about strategies for buying and selling here) and weren’t willing to take the risk of placing an offer without a subject to financing.

If you can’t eliminate all the subjects from your offer, cut out as many as possible. For strata homes, an inspection may not be necessary, especially if you know what to look for when viewing the home. Plus, a careful review of strata minutes can inform you about the possibility of expensive repairs in the future.

In the end though, it’s important to stay within your comfort zone. If adding a subject to inspection gives you peace of mind, then add it. It just means you’ll have to think of a different way to make your offer stand out.

Accommodate the seller’s timeline

Ask your real estate agent to get in touch with the seller and find out what’s important to them. Maybe it’s money. Maybe it’s not.

Sometimes the closing date is important. So if you can accommodate the seller by working with their dates, do it. This could create a hassle for you, but it might be worth it. Adding convenience and value for the seller could help your offer rise to the top.

Write a letter

Selling real estate can be an emotional experience, especially when the seller has lived in the home for years and raised a family there. When we found the house of our dreams, we wrote a letter to the sellers and submitted it with our offer. This wasn’t just a cold tactic, though. We truly loved the home—from the minute we walked in—and envisioned ourselves making memories there with our children. So we said that in the letter, and clearly described how we would take care of the property.

Remember that selling a home can be as stressful as buying one, and while most sellers look for the highest price, other factors can influence the offer-selection process. Some sellers might prefer a subject-free offer, to ease the transition. Others might look for a particular timeframe for closing. Still others might value an emotional connection with the buyers, a sense of assurance that the hard work and care they put into their home will continue after they move on.

It helps to have an energetic and knowledgeable realtor on your side—someone who knows how to negotiate and identify what a seller might look for in an offer. And once you’ve found your realtor, speak to our team of professionals at Zancope Notary Public. We can guide you through all the paperwork and help ensure your real estate transaction is a smooth one.


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