How to Win a Bidding War

How to Win a Bidding WarBuying a home is an emotional, complex and often stressful process. This is doubly so if you’re buying in one of the country’s hottest real estate markets- like San Diego,  where there are more buyers than there are houses available. It’s quite likely in these situations that you’ll find yourself in a bidding war with other buyers. If you want to ensure your bid is the winning offer, follow these strategies.

Pay with cash

This won’t be possible for everyone, but if you have the cash, make an all-cash offer. In a particularly hot market, cash will always win out. Sellers prefer buyers who pay cash because the deal will not be dependent on whether or not the buyer can secure financing.

Get preapproved for a mortgage

If paying all cash is not an option, you must get preapproved for a mortgage before making an offer. You’ll get a letter to submit with your offer that shows the seller how much money you qualify to borrow. In a scenario where a seller receives multiple bids, you’ll automatically count yourself out if you are not pre-approved.  Most of the agents that I work with in the Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar, Carlsbad or La Jolla area will not even look at an offer that doesn’t include a preapproval letter or a letter from the buyers’ personal banker.

Study the market

Before you begin your search in earnest with the intent to make an offer, spend some time researching online listings for the neighborhood. Know what kinds of houses are available, what the inventory is like, and what the prices tend to be.  But don’t rely on websites like Zillow to give you the real scoop about values.  Home prices can vary widely depending on renovations that have been done or if the home has a view.  Two homes on the same street can have radically different values depending on these factors.  I will send my buyers new listings as they come on the market for the latest on what’s available and compare to recently closed listings.

Submit the first and best offer

In a tight market like San Diego, it pays to be aggressive. When you find a house you like, be the first to make an offer. Not only that, but make sure your offer is the best. If the seller has listed the home at an appropriate price, be prepared to offer what they are asking. Be easy to work with by letting the seller choose services such as the escrow provider or title insurance.


Limit contingencies

Contingencies let a buyer out of a contract if certain issues aren’t addressed. Sometimes buyers want to include a contingency that the sale only goes through if their own house sells first, or if certain items are repaired. If you know a house is going to net multiple offers, you must limit the number of contingencies if you hope to win a bidding war. Sellers will generally choose offers with the fewest contingencies.

Get personal

Do you really love the home? Can you imagine your kids enjoying that backyard tree house, or see your dog loving the enormous backyard? Then write a letter to the seller explaining your reasons for wanting the house. Include a photo. Appealing to a seller’s emotions can be incredibly persuasive, and you may be rewarded with the winning bid.  This may sound hokey, but I’ve found it to be very helpful in winning bids across the price spectrum from $300K condos in Oceanside to multi-million estates in the Ranch.

Lastly- be sure your agent has strong relationships with other agents in the area.  If multiple bids come in, the listing agent will most likely push for the offer that came from an agent she has worked with in the past and trusts.  A good agent can make all the difference in a competitive market!

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