Checklist for Winning a Bidding War

The New York Times

By Lisa Prevost

June 17, 2016


Coming up with a winning bid requires foresight. Here are some tips for navigating a fast-moving market.

Get preapproved for a mortgage. Not to be confused with a prequalification, preapproval from a lender is a pretty strong indicator of your ability to obtain financing. Without that assurance, sellers may discard your bid.

Enlist seasoned professionals. An experienced real estate agent can give you a heads up about coming listings and guide you through the process. Working with a mortgage professional who knows the local market can also help.

Go in strong at the start. Figure out the most you can afford, and bid accordingly. “If it’s meant to be, you’ll get it,” says Caroline Baccellieri of McClellan Sotheby’s International Realty in Pelham, N.Y. “But don’t go to a point where you think it’s going to be too much to handle.” Also, if you’re offering more than the asking price, be aware that your mortgage lender may appraise the home at a lower value — which could leave you on the hook for the difference.

Consider waiving the mortgage contingency. In hot markets, sellers often discard offers that are contingent on the buyers’ ability to obtain financing. But beware: Buyers run the risk of losing their deposit if they waive the contingency and their financing falls through. Consult a lawyer.

Cash is king. If you can, make a cash offer. Sellers like that certainty.

Don’t put too much stock in heartfelt letters. It’s fine to include a fawning letter and photos of your adorable children with your offer, but don’t expect them to distract the seller from the bottom line.

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