How can buyer write strong and competitive offer on short sale

Real Estate Agent with Alain Pinel BRE 01367196


How can buyer write strong short sale offer in a competitive situation

It used to be that when a home for sale is Strategic short saleidentified as a short sale,  buyers and their agents stayed away because they didn’t want to wait and perhaps also because of fear of the unknown.


Today, in our market, it's a seller's market.  There is so little inventory, and we are experiencing multiple offers at above list price on everything.

So how can one increase his chances to get his offer accepted on a short sale?

Knowledge is everything. market value

...banks and how they typically handle short sales

... agent's know how  of the short sale process

...resources to tap as needed (for example,

...pricing strategy. Is the price low in order to entice buyers?

Here are some hints on how to write a strong short sale offer.


  • Offer close to or at market value.  Don't go by list price alone
    • The banks will get BPO (broker’s price opinion) which will be based on current market values
  • Open escrow upon acceptance by the seller and before receipt of short sale approval. This shows total commitment on the buyer’s part
  • Agree to wait for 60 days or longer to for short sale approval. California Short Sale Addendum has 45 days. Depeding on the lender, it can take longer than that.
  • Shorten your buyer investigation contingency
    • The shorter the inspection period, the sooner buyer can decide whether to move forward or not
    • If not, the seller and the agent can immediately put the property back on the market
  • Higher initial deposit and down payment -- the stronger the offer.
    • This perception is true in all offers
  • Specify willingness to contribute towards payoff of a junior lien if there is one
    • Some junior liens may demand a higher pay off than what the first lien holder is willing to pay, so it may help if the buyer contributes towards that payoff
    • Note that the first lien holder will need to approve this contribution
    • If such contribution is not needed, then you would not have lost anything...but you have gained the confidence of the seller
  • AS IS sale.


  • Ask seller to pay for expense not customarily paid by the seller. If buyers customarily pay for their share of city and/or county transfer tax, then buyer should assume that responsibility
  • Ask seller for repairs, credits or compliance with local government ordinances (such as testing/replacing sewer lateral lines). Seller can’t afford them, and short sale lender won’t pay for them
  • Ask seller to pay for buyer’s closing costs such as escrow fees and title insurance, 
  • Offer too high above market (not list) price. If the short sale lender approved your offer price but the property doesn't appraise that high, will the short sale lender reduce the price? Not likely.


Related posts

How can you tell when a short sale buyer is serious about his offer?

Multiple Offers on short sales...yes, believe it. Is this a sign of Real Estate Recovery or not?

It's NOT a buyer's market in Alameda CA. Look at COST to buy, not the PRICE of the house






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  1. Satar Naghshineh 05/24/2012 05:39 PM
Real Estate Best Practices
Short Sale REALTORS®
Best Business Practices
Diary of a Realtor
short sale pricing strategy
writing strong short sale offer in competitive situation
writing winning short sale offer
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Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist

Pacita,  Great post!  I would add ... be sure to hire an agent who knows who to write winning offers in any market ... most especially in a market like we are in now ... competitive with multiple offers!  The best deal in town is the offer that is accepted and closes!

May 23, 2012 03:28 PM #1
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Kathleen -- thanks. I edited the post to highlight agent's know how.

Hope all is well with you.

May 23, 2012 03:31 PM #2
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Pacita, how appropriate the market has turned and we need to be able to educate our buyers of these changes. Great Post! HOpe your buyers are reading it!

May 23, 2012 04:33 PM #3
Doug Bullwinkel
Envoy Mortgage, NMLS 6666 - Roseville, CA
Mortgage Loan Originator NMLS #281609

I agree with Kathleen.  A qualified and experienced agent will already know these do's and don'ts and will guide the sale to closing. 

May 23, 2012 04:45 PM #4
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

It sounds like you are an experienced short sale specialist Pacita.

Great post.

May 23, 2012 05:11 PM #5
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA

Endre -- I also hope buyer's agents take heed

Doug -- as the short sale listing agent, I am still very surprised at the buyer's agents's lack of skill in writing a competitive offer.

Tom -- have had my share....and feel confident enough to post what I think works :)

May 23, 2012 05:36 PM #6
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Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
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