Five tips for buyers in a seller's market

Many parts of the country are experiencing a strong seller's market, and that certainly has been the case for the last couple of years in San Francisco, San Mateo County, and the Silicon Valley. So, what's a buyer to do?

Here are 5 tips to help buyers when competing with multiple offers:

  1. Make certain you are pre-approved for financing. Your real estate agent, your lender and you need to function as a team and have a complete understanding of your financial strengths and the lender's abilities regarding rent-backs, time frames, etc.
  2. Do your homework - with your agent's assistance, learn everything you can about the property. Read all the disclosures, jotting down questions as you go. If you have a thorough picture of the house, might you make your offer free of contingencies. (We'll talk about that more in another post.)
  3. Sign all the disclosures and cover pages of reports that have been provided to you before you make the offer. Sure, it takes time, but you are sending a strong message to the sellers and the listing agent that you are serious. Does your agent do her/his visual inspection ahead of time and include it with your offer? That helps.
  4. Make it easy for the seller to want to work with you - ask your agent to find out as much about the seller as possible--do they need a rent-back? Does a short close appeal.
  5. Tell the seller about yourself. Write a letter, or provide bullet-points so your agent can write that letter. You need to become a real, flesh-and-blood person in the mind of the seller, not simply numbers on paper. Find the connection between you, whether it's you both work in the same industry, or both have cats (yes, that was the clinching factor for my buyer in a recent purchase.) Let the seller know why you like the property, how you see yourself cherishing it and caring for it. Compliment them on the care they have given the house, the paint colors, the garden -- something.

It's not easy being a buyer in a seller's market, so take all the steps you can to strengthen your offer and be successful.

And one extra tip: Don't give up if the first or second offer isn't accepted. Focus and persistence do pay off.


--- Come for a visit; Stay for a lifetime!

Lottie Kendall, Realtor®


CA DRE#10215160; 650-465-4547






Comment balloon 15 commentsLottie Kendall • April 21 2016 08:56AM


#4 has completely saved my buyers for the past three years. What is important to the seller? Price? Fast close? Long close? Lease-back? Larger earnest money? Shorter inspection period (we call it option period). All that is so important to rep a buyer well in a seller's market. Good post.

Posted by Kristen Correa, Broker, I love coffee & real estate. I am out of coffee! (Kristen Correa Real Estate & Reedy Creek Realty Services) over 4 years ago

Lottie Kendall These are very good tips for buyers in a seller's market.

Posted by John Pusa, Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest) over 4 years ago

Good evening Lottie Kendall ,  Great information to have available to pass on to your sellers.  Have a great week.

Posted by Larry Johnston, Broker,Friends & Neighbors Real Estate, Elkhart,IN (Broker, Friends & Neighbors Real Estate and Elkhart County Subdivisions, LLC) over 4 years ago

I so agree with this post. I try to find out as much as possible about the buyer. I am a covert person at times. I learn everything about a property and have been known to ask any locale historians about resales.  Flood Zone, where the nearest fire hydrant is located. I have even checked the City's street file to see what kind of permitted work has been done on a resale. 

Posted by Sussie Sutton, David Tracy Real Estate for Buyers & Sellers (David Tracy Real Estate) over 4 years ago

When multiple offers, and overbids of 5-15% and more are common, buyers need to have a strategy to get a home, Kristen Correa, Broker and John Pusa 

Hi Larry Johnston - sellers in our area are in the catbird seat; it's buyers who need to come up with a strategy to help them get a home.

Hi Sussie Sutton - another thing I tell my buyers is to visit the neighborhood different days of the week, different times of the day, and not to be reluctant to chat with neighbors they might spot our in their yards or taking a walk -- another good way to get a feel for the area.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 4 years ago

Lottie Kendall  - Great advise, especially making it easy for the seller to work with you, and having your pre-approval loan letter in hand!  Excellent Buyer tips!

Posted by Laura Allen, Lake Tahoe - Truckee Real Estate for Sale, Tahoe Real Estate Agent Helping Buyers and Sellers (Coldwell Banker, Tahoe City, CA (530) 414-1260) over 4 years ago

These are good tips for home buyers. I hope they will read this post.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 4 years ago

Can't stress pre-approval enough.  Great tips.  Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Sandra Thomas (Re/Max Achievers) over 4 years ago

Hi Laura Allen, Lake Tahoe - Truckee Real Estate for Sale - anything a buyer and buyer's agent can do to make the seller want to work with her/him is imperative. 

Sandra Thomas - pre-approval is critical.

Good morning, Gita Bantwal - are you seeing this same type of sellers' market? 

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 4 years ago

Good morning Lottie. These suggestions are terrific. I would also add putting serious monet right up front shows you are serious too.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 4 years ago

Hi Sheila Anderson , in our area a 3% deposit is standard--putting more down up front wouldn't have any legal bearing, and any seasoned listing agent would know this, but it might excite a seller.

You've given me something to mull over in my mind this morning--and an idea for a future blog post.

Wishing you a great day and wonderful weekend.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 4 years ago

Hi Lottie. In NJ, where I practiced, a standard was $1000,00 up front and then the remainder of 10% after atty. review. The time span was short, but puuting significantly more up front told a seller you were intersted in buying a home and not a sandwich. :)  Exceeding the standard shows intent.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 4 years ago

With our high prices, a 3% deposit is typically in the $25,000-$45,000 range. On an owner-occupied unit (in a 4 unit or less building), state law limits amount of deposit a seller could keep if a deal went south after contingencies are removed to 3% of the purchase price. So--putting more down at time of making the offer wouldn't have any real effect, but certainly could be eye-catching. Sheila Anderson 

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 4 years ago

Great tips. Well worth taking this advice seriously!

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) over 4 years ago

Lottie we continue to be in a Buyers market, but this is good advice for the market does finally turn around here.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 4 years ago