Guide to Buying a Home During the Pandemic

Real Estate Broker/Owner with HomeBuyer Brokerage

couple sitting on narrow crane above the city Does finding a home feel like an impossible dream? 


As an exclusive buyers agent, I help people buy homes and it's tough out here. Last night one of my buyer clients sent me a text saying, "Did you see what the house on 13th sold for? $80,000 over the list price!" My clients offer was one of 15 offers for the 1500 square foot rowhouse.

My client made a decent offer for the rowhouse on 13th in N.E. Washington DC. He even decided to escalate a little over the list price and keep the appraisal contingency. But as I told him, you can't compete with crazy!

We are in a market where multiple bids are the norm in fact competing against 12 or more other home buyers for a property is pretty common. If you want to find your home in this housing market where mulitple bids are the norm, you need a good strategy.

First, understand what can be included in an offer to protect you-the home buyer.  Second, gain an understanding of the real estate market in the neighborhood and town where you want to buy a home. Third, how long will you own your new home? With interest rates at historically low levels, buying a home makes sense. If it's your forever home, consider making a strong competitive offer. However, if you're on a five year or less plan, you may want to try a different strategy. 


Here are a few strategies & suggestions to get you the house you want at the price that is best for you!


  • If you want to avoid competition, stay away from the shiny brand new listings-these are the homes that create the wildest frenzy for home buyers. Consider the not-so-perfect-house that looks a little dated but is in otherwise good condition. The longer a home sits on the market, the better the chance of not being in a competitive situation. The trick is finding a house that's been for sale for a while, maybe 2-3 months not 2-3 years. 
  • Consider doing a pre-contract home inspection-this is when you hire a home inspector to evaluate the major systems in a home including the roof and basement. If you are comfortable with the items cited by the home inspector, you can move ahead with an offer that is not contingent on a home inspection. So what does this mean for you? You would be responsible for all items cited in the home inspection report. In addition, the seller would not offer credits or repairs for anything. 
  • Work with an exclusive buyers agent-sure this is a plug for NAEBA and all my fellow exclusive buyer agents in the country but there is a reason we only work one side of the transaction-no dual agency & no designated agency. You deserve 100% uncompromised representation now more than ever! I have great experiences with many traditional real estate agents but only an exclusive buyers agent will represent home buyers 100% of the time. 
  • Consider offering a post-occupancy to the sellers. This arrangement allows the sellers to stay in the house for a short period of time (no longer than 2 months) as part of the contract. The buyer can decide to offer this for no cost or for PITI (principal, interest, taxes & insurance) which would be equal to the cost for the buyer. In addition, the seller would put down a security deposit, held by the settlement company, which would be held until the buyers inspect the property after the sellers have moved out. 
  • If you love a house and want to write a competitive offer you can add an escalation clause to the contract. This is structured in the following way-your offer will go X amount of dollars higher than a competiting offer up to a Cap of X dollars. The listing agent has to provide the competing offer, which triggered your escalation clause, for your review. There are variations to the escalation clause like escalating up to X amount but keeping the appraisal contingency in place at a lower number. These strategies should be carefully considered by you and your lender before moving ahead. 
  • An obvious strategy and one that has worked for us-being the first full price offer. Some sellers are satisfied with a full price offer, strong buyer & a well written letter from your lender. This scenario happens when sellers want to be done as quickly as possible. Whether moving for a job, getting a divorce or any number of things that could make a seller want to move quickly, being the first offer in hand can make the difference. 

Be well & we wish you success in your home buying adventure!



Posted by

Victoria Lynne Henderson

Real estate broker and business owner of HomeBuyer Brokerage serving buyers in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Victoria was born in Washington D.C. and loves her hometown!

Learn more about exclusive buyer brokers & agents at HomeBuyer Brokerage



Certified Negotiation Expert

Serving home buyers in Washington D.C., Maryland & Virginia 

Comments (3)

Sham Reddy CRS
Howard Hanna RE Services, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

I have been using escalation clauses for a little bit, they work if you explain that the listing agent.

If you love a house and want to write a competitive offer you can add an escalation clause to the contract. This is structured in the following way-your offer will go X amount of dollars higher than a competiting offer up to a Cap of X dollars

Sep 16, 2020 11:16 AM
Victoria Ray Henderson
HomeBuyer Brokerage - Washington, DC
Washington DC Real Estate

Yes its a good idea to talk to the listing agent to be sure there's an understanding of the terms of the contract. Thanks for commenting Sham Reddy!

Sep 16, 2020 08:04 PM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Great information.  Thanks for sharing and make it a great day!

Nov 14, 2021 06:46 AM