How to beat out the competition when closing on a house in a booming seller's market

LEAWOOD, Kan. - In a booming seller's market closing on a house isn't an easy task. 

Amy and John Jordan live in an apartment in Leawood.

They began searching for a home they could nestle into with their young daughter and two Dachshunds more than three months ago.

"It started to feel kind of like you're expecting bad news before you even finish your contract offer," Amy Jordan said. 

In December, the couple found a fixer-upper they thought would be perfect for their family. They placed an offer for more than the seller's asking price.

It was denied.

Then, a couple days later, they placed an offer on another home. This time, the Jordans offered $10,000 more than the asking price, in addition to paying the closing costs.

"I was like, 'Oh, we got this,'" Amy Jordan said. "They [other buyers] didn't throw in $10,000 and closing. They didn't think to do that."

John Jordan said the couple began shopping for furniture when their agent called.

That offer was also denied. 

Gary Kerley, a realtor with Supreme Real Estate, said the biggest problem with closing in today's market is that there's little inventory and a lot of buyers.

"Buyers are getting impatient. They're getting frustrated. They're getting discouraged because they're looking at the house and they want to sleep on it and unfortunately it sells that night," Kerley said. 

There are some tricks buyers can use, though, to help seal the deal on their home. 

Kerley's first piece of advice is for buyers to be competitive with their offers.

"Come in at your highest and best," Kerley said. "Don't low ball, don't always expect them to counter."

According to Trulia, one of the biggest mistakes by buyers in a seller's market is not making their best offer. Another mistake is over-analyzing the price.

"At appraisal time, if it doesn't get appraised that high, you're gonna be able to negotiate that price," Kerley said. 

It's not all about money, though. When it comes to beating out the competition, Kerley suggests connecting with the seller.

"Write a letter to the seller, why you and your family would like to live in the home," Kerley said. "Give it a personal touch."

Kerley also suggested working with a realtor.

Agents are able to connect their clients to a database that will send them an alert when a home matching their criteria hits the market.

"You can get that email the second that house lists," Kerley said. "You can call, text, email your realtor and maybe get in that house first thing."

Kerley said it's also wise to get a pre-approval letter from a mortgage lender before looking at a home. Often times, sellers won't accept an offer without one. 

Above all else, move quickly.

"You have to realize there's sometimes 10 to 15 people looking at the house that day," Kerley said. "Some days, I'll pull up to a home and I'll get a call from the listing agent saying, 'Sorry, I just accepted an offer.'"

Kerley's advice is to view the home anyway. 

"If that offer falls through, maybe you'll be the first one in line to put an offer in."

That was the case for the Jordans who finally got their offer accepted.

At the time the Jordans looked at their home, it was priced for more than they wanted to pay. When they noticed the price dropped by $10,000 they didn't hesitate to make an offer.

"I was like, call now, let's put an offer in before people start seeing it," Jordan said. "We would have lost it if we didn't do it that quick."

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Jessica McMaster can be reached at jessica.mcmaster@kshb.com

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