people bidding in an auction

It seems like just yesterday that it was a buyer's market here on Chicago's North Shore: lots of homes to choose from, plenty of time to consider the options, the ability to negotiate hard with desperate sellers, the possibility of scoring a deal with a low-ball offer.

But those days are gone. Nowadays we have so little inventory on the North Shore, that good homes are selling fast and buyers are finding themselves in bidding wars to get the house they want. Just as it took sellers a long time to accept the fact that their homes were no longer worth what they were back in 2007, today's buyers are having trouble getting their heads around the fact that they aren't going to get the deal of the century when they buy.

Case in point: A couple of weeks ago an agent called me to say that her client was writing an offer on one of my listings. I let her know that we already had two offers so her client should put her best foot forward right out of the gate if she really wanted the house. She passed that along to her client, who proceeded to write an offer for 85% of the asking price.

Seriously? Maybe she thought I was lying. Maybe she thought her agent was being an alarmist. She just couldn't believe that the market had changed that much in a year. Needless to say, she didn't get the house.

If there's anything that serves as a wake-up call to buyers stuck in an old paradigm, it's losing the home they had their hearts set on to a competitive bidder. Suddenly they get religion, and want to know the secret to securing their dream home.

Here are 7 ways to get the house you want, even when there are multiple offers:

1. Start by getting to know the market and the home values so you know right away when a house is priced well and can act quickly and confidently to make an offer you are comfortable with.

2. Have your financial ducks in a row. Get a pre-approval letter from a lender that outlines the amount you are approved for, the type of loan you are getting and the amount of the down payment. Being pre-approved (vs. just pre-qualified) makes you a stronger buyer.

3. When you see the house you want, write an offer immediately, and make it a strong one. You may be able to get the house under contract before other offers come in.

4. Be prepared to give a higher than normal amount of earnest money to show you are serious. If you can make a larger than average down payment, that will help too.

5, I don't advise waiving the inspection contingency, but you can shorten the contingency period, which will make the seller more comfortable that his house will not be " off the market" any longer than necessary.

7. Consider writing a letter to the seller telling them about yourself and letting them know why you love their house. Selling a home, particularly one where you have raised your family, is a very emotional experience. Having a buyer who is going to love your home as much as you do may be the one you want to have your house, even if other aspects of their offer aren't as strong as someone else's.

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We are North Shore Chicago real estate specialists and one of the top teams in the area. If you would like to schedule a buyer or seller consultation with the Come Home North Shore team, please call 847-881-6657 or send us a note here.

Are you relocating to Chicago's North Shore? We'd love to familiarize you with the area and help you find the perfect home for your family. Ask me about our "Tour of the Shore." Whether you're looking for new construction or an existing home, we'd be happy to guide you through the process.

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