The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, outdoor seating is now the preferred option and the Spring home buying season is upon us. It sounds lovely, right? Not so fast. For those in the midst of looking to buy a home, it feels less like a walk in the park, and more like the Hunger Games. It’s a battle out there. With that said, someone must win the bid and there are ways in which you can put yourself in a better position to win those bids. So how can one do this? I’m glad you asked. Here are some of the ways you can make your offer super competitive.

Get Pre-Approved for a Higher Amount:

Assuming you’re not stretching and buying something above your means, it might make sense to get pre-approved for an amount above and beyond your offer price. This will show the sellers that you’re essentially over-qualified for the purchase and will give the impression that getting financing will not be an issue for you at all.

Waive the Mortgage Contingency:

Having a mortgage contingency in a contract is definitely recommended, and you should do whatever you can do to have contingencies in the contract, which may include an appraisal or inspection contingency as well. In this market however, that may not be an option, as sellers who have the upper hand may only be accepting offers that are all cash or ones where the mortgage contingency is waived. In these instances, it’s crucial to work with a lender that has back-up options for you, so in the event option A doesn’t work, the lender has options B, C and D to back it up with. Our company, Cross Country Mortgage, has it’s own lending platform with over 50 different investors, as well as a broker component with another 30 or so lenders, which all but ensures we can find financing for almost any type of loan.

Increase Your Earnest Money Deposit:

When you sign a contract to buy a home, at the signing, you’re typically required to make a 10% deposit, with the remaining 90% due at closing. The 10% shows the sellers that you’re so serious about the purchase that you’re willing to part with 10% of the contract price upfront. As part of your offer, if you show that you’re willing to put 15% or even 20% down at the contract signing, that can make you look that much more attractive.

Quick Closing:

Time is money and stating that you’ll be ready to close in 3-4 weeks after the contract signing can also separate you from your competition. Most contracts in NYC will have an on or about closing date of 60 days. If your offer shows that you can close in half that time, the seller will be able to move on with their life a lot sooner and may be more willing to accept your offer. It’s essential to have all your documents in with your lender (i.e., pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, etc.) ASAP. In some cases, you may be able to get your file underwritten before the contract is even signed which will further expedite the closing. And when that contract is signed, most of the work will have been done and you’ll be able to have a speedy closing.

Accommodations For the Seller:

This comes from the “help us help you” playbook. Leaning on your real estate broker to find out everything that is important to the seller can help you win a bid. Of course, they want to get the highest price, but if the highest offer comes from a buyer who doesn’t want to close for another 6 months, the sellers may not be interested if they are looking to move sooner. On the flip side, perhaps the sellers want to delay things and close later. You can offer a lease back agreement and lease the home back to the sellers after closing to give them the time they need to move. Additionally, you can offer to pay some of the sellers closing costs which can sweeten things as well.

Pay in Cash:

At the end of the day, offering all cash is going to put you in the best position. As a mortgage professional, it pains me to say that, but we’re honest with each other so I’m going to give it to you straight. And I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already. But it’s important to know that if you close all cash, you can get financing the next day after closing. It’s called a technical refinance and we can help you recoup some of the cash you put down for the purchase. You’ll be under a lot less pressure when it comes to the refinance as the sellers won’t be involved anymore. It’ll just be between you and the lender.

Have a Strategy:

Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist of the Hunger Games, used a winning strategy when competing in the Games. Thankfully your life isn’t on the line in this home buying season (at least not yet) but having a strategy in place and being prepared will set you apart from everyone else. I can’t guarantee that one or a couple of these strategies will work, but being informed and having the knowledge and tools of what’s possible, ensures that you’re putting your best foot forward.


Scott Nadler
Vice President of Lending
CrossCountry Mortgage, LLC

C: 973.769.8180

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Equal Housing Opportunity. All loans subject to underwriting approval. Certain restrictions apply. Call for details. All borrowers must meet minimum credit score, loan-to-value, debt-to-income, and other requirements to qualify for any mortgage program. CrossCountry Mortgage, LLC NMLS3029 (