According to, this year nearly 400,000 fewer homes have been listed compared to last year, resulting in a gaping hole in the U.S. housing inventory. And in Pittsburgh, shares that so far, median listing prices were up 23 percent while listings were down 35.7 percent.

When you’re in the market to purchase a home in a seller’s market… how can you make your offer more attractive to help win a bidding bar?

Keep in mind, negotiating on price alone doesn’t always cut it. So, what should savvy buyers do? Here are 5 keys to help your offer stand out in this ultra-competitive market:

1. Work with an experienced realtor and lender.

Find someone trustworthy who truly knows the local market. Additionally, look for a realtor with connections to other realtors — not only to view their “private” (i.e., non-public) listings, but also to keep a pulse on homes in other neighborhoods you like that might come on the market soon.

If you have a good relationship with a lender or mortgage broker, they can help guide you early in the process to shore up your credit report, showcase your best financial picture on paper, and keep things moving through the loan application process.

2. Show ‘em the money.

Whenever possible, include your proof of funds to close (for a cash offer) or provide a pre-approval letter from your lender. Knowing you’re already in a strong financial position can solidify your interest and help seal the deal. In a true seller’s market, some buyers even waive the appraisal contingency to make their offer more compelling. Should the home appraise under the contract price, the buyers provide their own money to make up the difference.

Pro tip: if you’re moving due to a corporate relocation, showing you don’t need a financing contingency or that you’re pre-approved for a bridge loan can also help your offer stand out.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

If there’s personal property not already included in the listing (like certain furniture, specific appliances, or outdoor equipment), now is not the time to ask the seller for any “extras” if you’re competing with other offers. Yes, you can live without those curtains or the washer and dryer the owner was planning to take with them.

4. Inspection defection.

Though you can still have a professional inspection to provide information on any structural issues with the house, consider skipping the inspection contingency. This might afford you a bit of leverage with a seller, since you’re willing to assume all the risk (and expenses) to fix any issues yourself. Check to see if a pre-listing inspection has already been done. Another, more neutral, option is to shorten the time to resolve any inspection issues. Lastly, you could also ask for a general inspection contingency — which still gives you the right to void the contract, but not ask for any repairs.

5. Make it personal.

Sometimes delivering an offer in-person (via realtors, if applicable) affords you the chance to explain a bit about you, the buyer. This is also the opportunity to write a letter to the seller. In the “Dear Seller” letter, share what you genuinely love about the home, introduce yourself (and your family), share why you’re moving to the area, and point out the specific strengths of your offer. It’s all about making a personal connection.

On your quest to find your dream home, using these tips can help you navigate the home-buying process. We wish you the very best in your search!

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