Credit: Steve Ding / Unsplash

Q: Marsha, my partner and I have made six offers on homes in the past 10 months. We always seem to be a day late and many dollars short. We are first-time home buyers in the $1,000,000 range. We hoped the market would cool down. Instead, every month is more expensive then the last. What can we do to get our offer accepted? 

A: Since July 2020, the current seller’s market has been slowly building. We have an extreme lack of inventory, low interest rates, and a raging market. We are currently in a mature seller’s market.

When the seller’s market first developed, both agents and sellers were shocked at the sale prices. Homes were regularly going for $50,000 to $100,000 over the asking price, or even more. Sellers were receiving up to 20 offers. Agents now have a better feel for values. Houses are still going for over asking prices, but there may be only four or five offers.

Prices have reached nose-bleed territory. Interest rates are still phenomenal and with inflation at more than 7 percent, real estate is a perfect investment vehicle in which to park your money. The current market is not for the fainthearted. Your best strategy to get an offer accepted is having persistence and tenacity. Here are some suggestions.

Tell the seller why you love the home. Previously used “love letters” from the buyers with photos and personal information about the buyers are now strongly discouraged because of fair housing concerns. However, simply stating why you love the seller’s home and not talking about yourself is still acceptable. Don’t use photos.

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Have your Realtor provide you with current comparable sales. Offer the seller over the listing price. Your competing buyers will also do this, so you can also try an escalation clause. Buyers will put an escalation clause in their offer stating they will offer some dollar amount over the highest offer. Make sure your Realtor explains all the ramifications of this strategy. 

If you only have 10 percent to put down on the home you love, perhaps you can get a “gift” from a close family member and make it 20 percent. This not only ensures you the best interest rate and no monthly mortgage insurance, but it puts you in a stronger position with the seller. A “gift” from a close relative (parent or sibling) is not considered debt and not recorded. This will not add to your debt-to-income ratio when getting your loan. 

Even stronger is an all-cash offer. If you can prove you have the ability to actually make an all-cash offer, then do it. This does not prevent you from seeking a loan during the escrow period. It means there is no loan contingency. An all-cash offer is strong. Be aware that if you can’t obtain your loan, you will still be obligated to purchase the home.

Finally, a popular tactic is to remove all contingencies before you make the offer. You will be removing the home inspection, appraisal, and loan contingency. You can still do all these actions, but they will no longer be a reason to cancel the contract. As I said, purchasing a home right now is a lot of work. Let me know how it goes for you. 

Marsha Gray, DRE #012102130, NMLS#1982164, has been a real estate broker in Santa Barbara for more than 20 years. She works at Allyn & Associates, real estate services and lending. To read more Q&A articles, visit She will research and answer all questions submitted. Contact Marsha at (805) 252-7093 or

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