How to be a Buyer in a Seller’s Market


As of this writing, Indy is in the midst of a bustling, mind-blowing, almost surreal seller’s market. Most of my houses have gone into multiple offers within hours of listings and sell significantly over the original price. Buyers and realtors agree: It’s crazy out there.

Buyers need savvy strategies to make their offer more appealing than their rivals’, especially when the seller is considering several offers and has asked for “highest and best.”  Try these:

Make it snappy. If you like to take your time with big decisions, contemplate, meditate, consult with family members, research neighborhoods, you are going to hate this: Be ready to write an offer sitting in your agent’s car in the driveway.

Come strong. Unless the house has been languishing on the market for weeks or priced eleven thousand dollars above other properties in the hood, offer list price or a little more, especially if it’s in a place where houses are moving like hotcakes. (I’m looking at you, Irvington.)

Go cash or conventional. Cash offers are the fairest of them all. With no lenders or appraisals involved, the process moves faster and more smoothly. Conventional loans are usually more attractive than other types because the appraisal process is less stringent. A VA loan, for instance, requires certain repairs be made before closing. Sellers don’t like that.

Skip the extras. Pay your own closing costs. Buy your own home warranty. Don’t ask the sellers to include the patio furniture and porch swing. Don’t ask for a property survey.

Forget the contingencies. If you need to sell your house first before you can buy one, don’t even bother making an offer now. Get your house under contract first, then go shopping.

Be flexible. Let sellers pick the closing date, and let them stick around awhile. Normally buyers take possession at closing but these are not normal times. Your offer will be more appealing if you can give the sellers a few days after closing to move their stuff out.

Take the house as is. This one’s not for the faint-hearted. Promise sellers you won’t nickle-and-dime them over repairs. Know that you can always back out if the inspection turns up expensive major problems. Alternatively, the seller may be willing to drop the price to compensate for any big defects.

Write a sincere letter. Tell the seller why you are crazy about the house and how you are looking forward to giving it the love and care it deserves. All offers being equal, often the one with the heartstring-tugging letter gets the advantage.

Pictured: Realtors Deb Kent (left) and Jamie Willis, her wife and business partner.