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  • Writer's pictureRachel Gagnon

BUYERS: How to make an offer more competitive?

There are many ways an offer can be made more competitive. Whether you are negotiating as the only offer on the table with the seller, or you're competing against other offers & need to put your best foot forward, knowing the many ways to make an offer more attractive can be crucial.

The information in this post is for information purposes only, can be very case dependent, and is not to be relied upon. Please speak with your Realtor, lawyer, mortgage representative & inspectors to determine what the right situation is for you.


Let's get the obvious answer out of the way. Increasing your price is an easy way to get the seller's attention. Now determining what price you should offer is a complex process, and can be staggered with revisions or counter offers.


The seller likely has a plan for where they are going to next, with an ideal date or date range for this move. If you are able to give the seller the exact date they would like, this will provide them with more incentive to work with you as it likely makes their life easier.


The higher the deposit, the more serious & strong your offer appears. The standard deposit seen in Ottawa is around 1.5-2% of the offer price. If you are able to increase this closer to 4-6%, you will be sure to create enough differential to catch the sellers eye.


The seller will have indicated what they are willing to leave behind, and what they would like to take with them. Respecting this list will make your offer more attractive. If the seller does not want to leave the washer/dryer, and you are in competing offers, asking to leave these two appliances behind might become a point of contention that sets both offers apart. You are better to determine the value of the items & adjust your offer accordingly (either including them & increasing your price, or leaving them out & selecting a price you're comfortable with.)


Removing conditions has a negative stigma attached, but I believe it is strongly linked to your risk tolerance & must be taken case by case.

Home inspection:

The value of not having a home inspection condition tends to sit around 8-13k, depending on the property & price.

If the home has been very clearly impeccably maintained, and you complete a thorough walk through both inside & outside, ask adequate disclosure questions, maybe bring in a trusted friend or family member for a second viewing, ask the seller for permission to look at the attic, etc, you may feel comfortable offering without a home inspection if it means you might get the home at a lower price.

Scenario: original owners for 30+ years, they respond thoroughly to all disclosure questions, all receipts / warranty paperwork is available for updates or repairs they have completed over the years, etc.

Your family friend who works in the trades has viewed the home, and maybe for any area of concern you have brought in a specialist to give you their opinion.

In terms of risk, you feel comfortable overall that the home is in good shape.

You also realize that if you will be in a highly competitive offer situation, that in order to compete against an offer that does not have a home inspection condition, your offer will likely need to be 8-13k higher, but the odds are that you will have 8-13k in "unexpected problems that an inspection would find" is fairly low.

In this situation, you may feel comfortable forgoing the inspection & putting in a lower price in hopes that it will sway the seller. You understand the risk you are taking.


You will need to be working with a mortgage representative who you trust if you wish to forgo this condition. Similar to the inspection, this is very much situational. I would never recommend not having a financing condition in the following circumstances:

-the offer price is within the 90-100% range of your financial pre-approval (i.e. over 540k offer for a 600k pre-approval)

-you do not have a backup plan (i.e. co-signer, gift from a family member)

-you are not comfortable signing with a B lender, should an A lender refuse the file

-you do not understand the risks involved (which should be explained by your broker)

-your broker has not thoroughly reviewed your income/tax/debt documents

A financing condition typically holds a value of 3-6k in most negotiations.


The average life span noted by most septic inspectors tends to be 30 years. Once you are past 30 years, most inspectors will advise you to be ready for replacement (not an if, but a when), and the inspection serves more to advise you on the state of the system (has it been well maintained, any parts needing replacement.)

Asking proper questions to the seller (i.e. when was the septic last emptied/inspected, if an EcoFlo - ask to see annual maintenance records) will assist in helping you decide your risk tolerance on this condition.

If you are in a highly competitive competing offer scenario, and you know the septic is 38 years old & you have budgeted for imminent replacement when the system fails, you may be comfortable with the risk of not having the system inspected.

Well / water:

If you are mortgaging a property, your bank will require a clean water sample (typically 0 Coliform/0 E-Coli.) One way to get around having a water sample collection is to ask the seller to provide it, but it is very difficult to have quality control of this (i.e. do you really know where the sample was taken from.)

A well inspection will assist in determining the water supply, quality & state of any filtration/treatment systems installed. You should not rely on neighbours advice - one neighbour might have great water & the neighbouring well runs dry every year.

I would recommend keeping this condition, but trying to make it a short turnaround if you need to be more competitive.

WETT (wood burning appliance):

A WETT inspection is typically removed in a competitive offer situation, however, there are many layers to consider here:

-Is the wood stove a large focal point, with plenty of stonework/beams etc? If so, significant repairs could translate into significant dollars.

-Do you plan on using the wood burning appliance?

-Is your insurance comfortable with / without the WETT Certificate? Or are they willing to ensure you provided you sign a waiver that you will not use the appliance?

If the wood stove is located in the basement & you never plan on using it, or if you plan on converting to a gas fireplace & your insurance is comfortable insuring you provided you sign a waiver, you may be comfortable removing this condition.

If the wood stove is in the middle of a cathedral living room, where you plan on using it regularly, you may wish to keep the condition, or make it a term of the offer that the seller will provide you with a certificate 10 days before the possession date.



If you delay improving your offer, are there high chances that competing offers will come in? If so, it might be wise to start with a relatively strong offer (i.e. one that the seller wouldn't want to counter because it checks off most / all of the boxes)


Once you reach 3 total offers on the table, it is expected that everyone is putting their best offer & very rarely will the seller come back to ask the buyers if they wish to revise. They might if two offers are very close, but again, it doesn't happen often, so you are best to put your best offer forward.


The best philosophy I've heard & repeated to clients is: put the offer that you won't regret losing with.

What this means is, if you "like" this house, but don't "love" it, submit a reasonable offer, but not so competitive that you will end up regretting purchasing the house. If it's worth 600k to you, and you're happy to get it at that amount - great! However, to someone else, it may be worth 605k. You may have regretted purchasing it at 605k for whatever reason, and so if you lose it to someone who was willing to pay that amount, it's ok, you weren't willing to move up to that number regardless. Having regrets about paying too much for a house is not worth it AT ALL! As long as it's calculated & you're content with your number, stick to that.

HOWEVER! If you love a home, feel that it's priced reasonably for what it is, and are comfortable writing a competitive offer (this may mean a combination of: over asking, tight or removing conditions, giving the seller their possession date, etc), then again, choose a number that you won't regret losing the home at.

Scenario: If compared to every home you've seen, this home you love is comparable to the homes you see at 605k, but because it's listed at 580k, you have a hard time offering 25k over. There are 3 competing offers, nothing crazy, but still you want to come in strong, so you offer 15k over in hopes that that is enough.

Really though, you know you are happy with 605k, you think maybe the seller will return to ask the top two offers to revise? Flipping the scenario, you would have been happy getting it 605k if the seller had opted to list it at 610k & you negotiated 5k off... Just the thought of offering 25k over becomes a mental block.

You receive the call that the seller chose another offer, and then you see the updated sale price at 603k. You are gutted knowing that you lost a home you loved regardless of if you had to pay 25k over. The sale price itself, whether you look at it as above asking or under asking, was still current fair market value.

These are the situations where you must offer the amount that you will not regret. It is definitely not in every scenario, but you must always decide on numbers you will be able to sleep at night with - whether that's to win a property or lose it.

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