8 Tips to Put Your Real Estate Offer in the Best Light — And Get it Accepted

by | BiggerPockets.com

As my assistant moves forward in his quest to buy his first owner-occupied triplex from a bank, it’s amazing to watch how his real estate agent, who is supposed to be representing him, is actually operating. You guessed it, he’s pretty much just working for himself.

Since I’m technically still an agent, I can say things like this. Sometimes real estate agents are less focused on strategy, so it’s really up to the experienced investor to drive the purchase process.

This is a classic case of the agent not knowing how to structure the offer in the best light to get the deal accepted by the bank.

Make the Deal About Them

Most of us think that the real estate deals we’re trying to get are all about us, but this is false. It’s really all about the seller.

It reminds me of when my buddy Steve meets with bankers on a regular basis and is always asking them what type of loans they are really looking for and what their parameters are. Then, he goes and makes it happen for them, and believe me, he’s been very successful. He never goes to the bank asking them for a loan; he actually does the complete opposite.

Related: How to Get Comfortable With the Uncomfortable Task of Making Offers on Homes

Well, it’s the same idea when writing a real estate deal. You want to connect with the seller on as many positive notes as possible.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

In order to do this, you have to know what type of seller you’re dealing with and how to best meet their needs. Are they just a regular seller looking to sell retail? Or are they a motivated seller, as in the case of an estate, FSBO property, an expired listing, or a handyman special that needs to close quickly? Or maybe like my assistant, you’re trying to buy directly from the bank.

In any case, you need to know how to structure your deal in the best light in order to get your offer accepted. Here are some examples:

  1. Use your deposit to your advantage. Sometimes I’ve even given a full price deposit when I was making a cash offer to show how serious I really was. Needless to say, I got a great deal. Another strategy is to pay an additional deposit after all of the inspections are done. Always use proof of funds and preapprovals if possible.
  2. Try to settle as quickly as possible. This can save the seller time and money.
  3. Know when inspections make sense and more importantly, when they don’t. If I’m buying from a retail seller, I’ll often use inspections, but if I’m buying from a bank, I try to use as few contingencies as possible. Buy “as is” if you can.
  4. Focus on what matters. Try not to create extra issues. I personally try to meet the seller on as many points as possible so as to have very little to negotiate over. I’d rather just negotiate price if possible.
  5. Remember that sometimes terms are more important than money. It’s not always what you’re paying but how you’re paying it that matters. Also, remember that people buy people, and it often pays to build rapport with the seller.
  6. Make your first offer your best. Sometimes it pays to do this, especially if there’s competition creeping around.
  7. Let time work in your favor. Sometimes it’s smart to be slow in your response to counteroffers. It gives the seller a fear of loss, and oftentimes they come around to your way of thinking.
  8. Don’t be an emotional buyer, especially when buying owner-occupied. I remember keeping my wife as far away as possible from the seller on our last primary residence purchase because she was totally nuts about the house.

Related: Negotiating 101: Yes, You SHOULD Make the First Offer. Here’s Why.

By using some of these strategies, you can make a lower, weak offer look as strong as possible through better terms. Keep in mind which strategy to use and when it really depends on the seller’s situation and needs.

When coaching my assistant on buying from the bank, I encouraged him to beef up his deposit, try to close before year’s end, and inspect the property now before submitting his offer — and by all means submit a pre-approval and/or proof of funds. Hopefully he’ll get this one.

What tips would you add to this list that have helped you get offers accepted?

Let me know with a comment!

About Author

Dave Van Horn

Since 2007, Dave Van Horn has served as president and CEO of PPR The Note Co., a holding company that manages several funds that buy, sell, and hold residential mortgages nationwide. Dave’s expertise is derived from over 30 years of residential and commercial real estate experience as a licensed Realtor, a real estate investor, and a fundraiser. As the latter, Dave has raised over $100 million in both notes and commercial real estate. In addition to his investments and role as CEO, Dave’s biggest passion is to teach others how to share, build, and preserve wealth. He authored Real Estate Note Investing, an introduction to the note investing business, helping investors enter the “other side” of the real estate business.


  1. Allen Chambers

    Thanks for the post. I have found all cash and no contingencies are well received by the bank. The minute financing comes up on a multiple offer deal the banks go a different direction. I try very hard to not finance my flips and use my own, hard money, or creative means to get the all cash presentation to the banks.

  2. Jay Orlauski

    Great article! you touched some key points here. I have also had success with writing letters to the seller on behalf of the client – after listening carefully to her family situation and why she was moving , I crafted a letter to the seller from the buyers – I confirmed with the buyers that I could send it on their behalf – the seller accepted our LOWER offer simply on the basis of that letter alone and told us that she had received a higher offer, but was touched by the letter and wanted my clients to live in her house.

    • Dave Van Horn

      Hi Jay,

      Great point, people buy people and reaching out to someone personally can definitely give you an edge over the competition.

      Another tip that I would recommend that’s somewhat similar would be to send a letter of intent (almost like a term sheet) along with a copy of a check, to help show how serious of a buyer you are.


  3. Margaret Jensen

    OK – can see logic when dealing with a personal owner who is selling (emotional) or a bank who had no emotion tied up with the property (business) – how would you tweak these suggestions for dealing with a landlord who has both emotions tied up with the deal (personal) but also wants to get the highest price/lowest carry/min responsibility for condition, etc. (business).

    • Dave Van Horn

      Hi Margaret,
      Thank you for your question.
      One thing I really didn’t describe in the article is that these strategies work best when you’re looking for a deal from a motivated seller. For example, let’s say I was trying to buy a property from someone, who was still cash-flowing monthly off of the unit(s) and felt attached to the property because it was owner-occupied or perhaps his/her first rehab. In this case, I would be much less likely to get a good deal, since it does not involve a motivated seller. Instead, the seller may be willing to wait around for a better offer. However, let’s say I was buying the property from a tired landlord or one retiring, who couldn’t wait to get out of real estate, or from a bank, who needed to get the property off of their books as soon as possible. In this case, I would be much more likely to get a good deal, since the seller would be more motivated and looking for a buyer to close quickly.
      I hope this helps!

  4. Jerome Kaidor

    I’ve been on both sides. I won my house with a really low offer ( to the bank ). But it was an all cash offer, and I had the cash, AND I took it strictly “as-is”. Other people in the neighborhood passed on my house because they viewed it as a project. It had been vandalized, the appliances were gone and the central air conditioner condensers had been taken away. None of this stuff scared me.

    Then there was a 5 unit building that I bid on. I bid 35K over the asking price, no contingencies except for getting the loan. Got beat out by a lower all-cash offer.

    When is an all-cash offer not an all-cash offer? When it is contingent on the buyer selling
    something else, or getting a loan on something else. Got one of those on a building *I* was selling. “Bzzt – sorry, thank you for playing”.

  5. Patty Cox

    As a brand new real estate investor I really appreciate all these great tips. Thanks so much for taking the time to write the article and for those who responded, i get a lot of good feedback from you all too. Thanks!

  6. Kim Tucker

    Dave, you hit on the nose again. After selling REOS for 5 years all of these tips sure work and nothing says serious buyer quite like a full price earnest money deposit – we have used that one as well as all the other tips many times over.

  7. I like what this article mentioned about using the deposit to your advantage. I think that this, along with a real estate lawyer could really help me go through the process easier. Thanks for sharing, I will definitely be remembering these tips!

  8. Jordan small

    Thank you so much for this post.
    I’m as new to real estate as it gets, other than spending a few hours a day in my free time educating myself and reading as many of these as possible.

    I hate reading unless it’s to educate and better myself, then I’m OCD about it.

    Thank you again for the post, and thanks to those with the feedback which is also insightful.

    • Dave Van Horn

      Hi Jordan,

      I appreciate the kind words. Thanks for reading. I always think getting educated along with networking (whether it’s here on BP or your local REIA group/Real Estate Meetup) are the best ways to get started in the business.


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