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How to Make a Competitive Home Offer That Stands Out

Mai Browne Updated: August 10, 2023 • 5 min read
Sold House

Key Points:

  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage and understand and tailor your offer based on the seller's motivations, such as their preferred closing dates and other specific requirements.
  • Make your offer stand out by offering a competitive price, waiving certain contingencies, and writing a heartfelt offer letter. 
  • Enhance your offer's appeal by making a larger down payment, adding special clauses like escalation clauses, and considering covering some sellers' closing costs.

In today's fiercely competitive real estate market, where the current median home sale price in the US has soared to $418,379 from about $284,600 in May 2020 according to Redfin, it's vital to deploy effective strategies when making an offer. To increase your chances of standing out and securing your dream home, especially when 60% of homes are selling in less than a month as of March 2023, consider these strategic steps to navigate this high-stakes environment successfully.

First Things First: Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

 With effective strategies and careful planning, you can increase your chances of standing out and winning your dream home in this competitive market.

To make a strong offer, the first step is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

  1. Check and assess your credit score: Your credit score plays a vital role in determining your mortgage eligibility. Review your credit report and address any issues or errors.
  2. Calculate your debt-to-income ratio: Lenders evaluate your ability to repay the loan based on your debt-to-income ratio. Calculate this ratio by dividing your monthly debt payments by your monthly income.
  3. Gather your financial information: Prepare the necessary financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, and pay stubs. Organizing these upfront will streamline the pre-approval process.
  4. Shop around for multiple lenders to get the best rate: Don't settle for the first lender you come across. Compare rates, terms, and fees from different lenders to find the best mortgage deal for you.
  5. Request a pre-approval letter: Once you've chosen a lender, submit your financial documents and complete the pre-approval application. The lender will review your information and provide a pre-approval letter stating the loan amount you qualify for.

Find Out What the Seller Wants

Understanding the seller's motivations is crucial in crafting competitive offers. Tailor your offer accordingly to make it more appealing and increase your chances of winning an offer on a house. In this section, we will explore ten tactics that will help you make your offer stand out and increase your chances of securing your dream home.

Tactics to Make Your Offer Stand Out

  1. Offer a competitive price: Consider researching recent sales in the area to determine the market value and set your offer accordingly. By offering a price that is in line with or even slightly above the market value, you demonstrate your seriousness and make a strong impression on the seller.
  2. Consider waiving contingencies: Waiving certain contingencies can make your offer more attractive to sellers. While it's important to consult with your real estate agent and weigh the risks, waiving contingencies such as the appraisal contingency or the financing contingency can show your confidence in the property and give the seller peace of mind that the deal will proceed smoothly.
  3. Write a persuasive offer letter: This is an excellent opportunity to connect with the seller on a personal level and make a strong offer. Use this letter to express your genuine interest in the property and explain why it is the perfect fit for you. Highlight specific features or aspects of the home that resonated with you. By sharing your enthusiasm and connection to the property, you can make a memorable impression on the seller.
  4. Make a strong Earnest Money Deposit: A substantial Earnest Money Deposit can demonstrate your commitment to the purchase and make your offer more attractive. By offering a higher deposit, you show the seller that you are serious about the transaction and have the financial means to follow through. 
  5. Be flexible about moving and closing dates: Flexibility with the timeline can be a significant advantage when making an offer. If you can accommodate the seller's preferred moving and closing dates, it shows your willingness to work with their schedule. 
  6. Present a pre-approval letter: This letter demonstrates that you have already undergone the financial vetting process and are qualified to secure financing. It assures the seller that you are a serious and capable buyer, increasing their confidence in accepting your offer.
  7. Make a cash offer: Strengthen your position in a competitive market. Cash offers eliminate financing contingencies and streamline the closing process. Sellers often favor cash offers because they provide a level of certainty and speed that can't always be achieved with financed offers. 
  8. Make a large down payment: A larger down payment can make your offer more appealing to sellers. It demonstrates your financial capability to complete the purchase and reduces the risk of financing falling through. By offering a sizable down payment, you show the seller that you are a serious buyer who is invested in the property.
  9. Add special clauses: When putting in an offer on a house, consider including special clauses to make it more enticing. One popular clause is an escalation clause, which automatically increases your offer if competing offers are received. This tactic allows you to stay ahead of the competition without the need for constant negotiation. 
  10. Cover extra closing costs: Offering to cover some of the seller's closing costs can be a powerful incentive. While it increases your upfront expenses, it can alleviate the financial burden on the seller and make your offer more appealing. By including this gesture, you demonstrate your willingness to go the extra mile and create a win-win situation for both parties.

By implementing these tactics, you can make your offer stand out and increase your chances of securing the home you desire. Remember, every situation is unique, and it's essential to work closely with your real estate agent to determine which strategies are most appropriate for your specific circumstances.


To stand out in a competitive real estate market, it's essential to craft a strategic offer. Utilize tactics like offering a good price, waiving contingencies, and being flexible with terms. Boost your offer's appeal with a pre-approval letter, cash offers, and cover some seller costs. Collaborate closely with your agent to tailor strategies and position yourself strongly for your dream home.

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Written by Mai Browne linkedin-icon

Mai Browne has 20+ years of experience working at and writing for Fortune 500 companies, financial services firms, and professional services firms, including three of the Big 4. She has also written for Money Magazine, The Journal of Accountancy, and other publications.