How To Win A Bidding War For Your Dream House

January 14, 2021
Last updated:
January 27, 2022
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You’ve found your dream house. How do you minimize the risk of another buyer swooping in and buying it out from under you? The secret is to get there firstest with the mostest, as the old saying goes. Being prepared is key, and getting to that point means having the right people on your side every step of the way.

In a competitive market with few homes available in prime areas, competition can get extremely fierce. Right now, with 30-year fixed mortgage rates at historic lows, you might be in the perfect position to buy your dream home. Whether you live in Washington State, Idaho, Colorado, or Oregon, your prospects in regard to home ownership have never been brighter.

Preemptive Moves

The best way to win a bidding war is to get in front of the action and shut down the competition before they have a chance to really get started. This means having all of your ducks in a row and meeting the buyer with an offer they can’t refuse. From engineering your offer to make it the highest bid without overpaying, to due diligence that gives you the confidence to reduce jumping through hoops, you can make the buyer see you as the obvious choice.

Having all of your ducks in a row before you start house-hunting can make it possible for you to move quickly once you do find your dream house. By reviewing the steps below and talking to a loan officer about starting the home loan application process, you can be ready to make an on-the-spot offer when you find the home of your dreams.


There is a huge difference between being pre-qualified and being preapproved. A pre-qual simply means you told a lender that you can manage a home loan payment, and they agreed based on the information you provided that you probably can – IF everything you provided checks out. Pre-quals are iffy, because there’s been no actual background done, no documentation verification, and no underwriting.

In contrast, a preapproval letter means you’ve completed the loan application process. Your income, assets, and credit have been scrutinized and verified, and an underwriter has approved you for a preset amount. With a preapproval letter in hand, buyers know you’re a safe bet and the process is unlikely to break down in the middle of negotiations because your financing fell through.

TBD Underwritten Preapproval

If you are looking for a home in a competitive market, ask your Loan Officer about possibly sending your preapproval through the underwriting process. Having a preapproval that is already underwritten can be a big boost when it comes to staying at the top of a seller’s list during a bidding war.

In a tight competition for a “yes” from the seller, if you’re underwritten and the other party isn’t, a motivated seller may opt to go with a more sure sale. At Sammamish, we understand how anxious you may be about getting a sale closed, and underwritten preapprovals are one way we can help support you.

Initial Offer

Get your offer in the door fast. Make sure you carefully consider your budget, wiggle room, home values in the area, and the market, then make a solid offer that comes in just above asking if possible.If the buyer is motivated to sell, you could move into escrow rapidly and lock out other would-be buyers.

Make sure you maintain some distance emotionally. If the market is extremely competitive, you could still be outbid, and you need to make sure you don’t overextend on your offer. If you win a bidding war but go broke trying to scrape up cash for closing costs, you could hamstring your future.

Escalation Clauses

Think that other bids are going to come in fast and furious on the heels of your own?  Relieve anxiety and let the seller know you are serious by adding a clause to your offer to escalate your bid automatically in the face of competition. Escalation clauses can be set to edge slightly over every new bid up to your budget limit.

For example, if your offer is $256,000, and your maximum budget is $300,000, you can offer to match and raise every new offer by $2000 (up to your limit). Sometimes simply seeing your determination will be enough to discourage other buyers and make the seller eager to close the deal.

A Personal Appeal

When you initially view the house,l take a few minutes to jot down your impressions and the visions you have of yourself and your family living there. You can create a personal letter to send the buyer explaining why you want to buy their home, what it means to you, and how excited you are to continue caring for it and making new memories.

Let them know how much your six year old will love being able to play in the fort in the backyard. Or how safe you’d feel letting your teenager bike to school on their own. Mention how you love the height chart carved into the kitchen door frame, and plan to start your own on the opposite side.


Want to increase your chances of holding on to your dream home as the sales process progresses? Consider dropping contingencies. You have to have an appraisal, but if you have a little extra cash you can offer to drop a contingency that says the home appraisal must meet or exceed your offered price. By picking up any difference at closing, you can rescue a deal that might be headed south.

You also might agree to pick up costs of any repairs identified after an inspection. Again, make sure you can cover these costs out of pocket in addition to your closing costs before making the commitment. Being able to go the extra mile can make it easier for a seller to accept your offer.

Being Prepared for Anything

Be prepared to weather bumps on the seller’s end, such as problems with inspection or appraisals. Have a game plan, a clear idea of your budget, and a to-the-penny accounting of how high you can go and still easily manage closing. Nothing is more devastating than being all packed for your move only to have a deal wash down the drain at the last minute.

Stay available and in touch with your seller and your mortgage company through the entire process. You need a loan officer and transaction processor on your side to make sure everything gets done in a timely fashion. Streamlining the process makes it easy for both parties to ultimately sign on the dotted line. Once the sale has closed and your loan is funded, you’ll be well on your way to a happy life in your dream house.

Who we are

Our team is made up of experts in the mortgage industry. Our loan officers can help you get preapproved for a loan and shepherd you through the process. By getting preapproved early in your home search and keeping your documents updated with your latest paystubs and bank statements, you can avoid bottlenecks or delays.

We believe you should have the house of your dreams, and are here for you as you navigate the process of buying your home. We know how exciting and nerve wracking the process can be, especially for first time home buyers. When you have questions, we’re here to answer them and keep the process moving forward.

Today’s Mortgage Rates

Why Choose Sammamish Mortgage?

Sammamish Mortgage has been in business since 1992, and has assisted many home buyers in the Pacific Northwest. If you are looking for mortgage financing in Washington State, we can help. Sammamish Mortgage offers mortgage programs in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Contact us if you have any mortgage-related questions or concerns. If you are ready to move forward, you can view rates, obtain a customized instant rate quote, or apply instantly directly from our website.

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