Purchasing a home is a big deal; do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

It is a significant financial commitment not only to the monthly mortgage, but also to annual property taxes and ongoing maintenance.

And even if you have the greatest real estate agent and lender in the world, the buying process is typically not without its challenges. As a buyer, those challenges are amplified when you are attempting to buy in a seller’s market.


Insert head scratch; there is that term “seller’s market” again. What exactly does it mean?

A seller’s market occurs when the demand exceeds current supply, i.e. there are more buyers seeking to purchase properties than there are available homes on the market. This often leads to multiple buyers interested in a single property, resulting in bidding wars. If you are a buyer in the Tahoe/Truckee area, with a budget up to $500,000, this is a term you are all too familiar with.

I have compiled four tips to assist you in writing the best possible offer to help you stand out from the pack:

1) WRITE A LETTER  //  Even if it feels cheesy (it is) and you don’t think it will make a difference (it will), write the letter. As Nike says, just do it.

Think about it like this; if you are the seller and you have received four offers at the same price, with relatively similar terms, how would you decide? Now imagine one of those offers has a letter, with a family photo attached, explaining how excited they are to create new memories in the home you’re selling. You get it.  

It won’t work every time, but it is worth the few minutes it takes to put pen to paper.

2) BE FLEXIBLE  //  I realize this will sound hard to believe, but oftentimes, the most important factor to a seller is not solely price. The seller may have important terms other buyers are not willing to comply with; and if you are willing to be flexible, this could set you apart from the rest.
Last summer, I listed a house for sale in Dollar Point and we received three offers. Offer two had a higher purchase price than offer one and offer three, but offer three agreed to conditions the other two were unwilling to. The terms? Allow the sellers to rent the property for two weeks in the summer for the next three years. My clients needed to sell, but ultimately, were still emotionally attached. In this specific case, offer three won.

3) FALL IN LOVE WITH THE BONES OF THE HOUSE, NOT THE THROW PILLOWS  //  If you have ever watched Million Dollar Listing or a similar HGTV reality show, you’ve likely heard that staging goes a long way. According to the Real Estate Staging Association, professionally listed staged properties simply look better, sit on the market 73 percent less time, typically sell for more money, land on buyers’ must-see lists, are viewed as well-maintained, and have fewer concessions requested of the seller.

What exactly does this mean for you? Keep in mind, countertops can be changed, walls can be painted, and that awful blue carpet can be swapped out as soon as you close escrow. If the house down the street from the “well-maintained” property has good bones and is structurally sound, I urge my clients to look past cosmetic issues and consider taking the route less traveled. Most buyers are drawn to turn-key properties, meaning you’ll have less competition at the house down the street.

4) DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME  //  In a strong seller’s market it is common (and expected) to miss out on a couple of properties. It is all a learning process, especially for first-time home buyers. Like grandma always used to say, it is vital that we learn from our mistakes.
There is not much (if any) wiggle room in terms of price in such a market; especially when multiple offers are on the table. This means in order to successfully get you into your dream home, you should consider sending in your best offer the first time. You may only get one chance to make an offer and coming in low will only be a disservice to yourself.

I could easily write another 15 tips on how to successfully buy a home in a seller’s market, but my allotted word count is 800 and I’m 15 words shy of being cut off.

My final words of wisdom: With the right representation and determination, the purchase you’ve always dreamed of can certainly be done.

~ Amie Quirarte is a real estate agent with Tahoe Luxury Properties licensed in both California and Nevada. She lives in Tahoe Vista with her husband and two rescue dogs.


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