Lisa Westerman - ReMax Professional Associates


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Situations arise where prospective buyers find themselves in a bidding war with another buyer over the house they desire. Circumstances like this occur in a seller’s market where the demand for property is higher than the market can provide. It’s not uncommon to see multiple buyers vying over the same property in a seller’s market. In these cases, buyers often attempt to best their competitors by submitting ever-increasing offers. To help you win a bidding war, you need to stand out from other buyers. Consider the following methods that may boost your chances of securing the home you desire. 

Up your offer

In a bidding war, the person with the highest bid ends up with the home. If you want to increase your chances of becoming the owner of a house when you have competitors, offer more money for the home. You do not have to go overboard when increasing your offer; a few hundred dollars more may make a difference. In this case, follow the guidance of an agent experienced in negotiating bidding war situations.

Be ready to show your pre-approval

To give yourself a winning edge during a bidding war, show the seller you are a serious buyer and that you are prepared to see the transaction through to the end. Sellers pay more attention to buyers that come prepared and ready to finalize the contract. A pre-approval letter from your lender can give you that edge.

Waive your contingencies

A contingency is asking the seller to make a concession on your behalf. Examples include closing delay contingencies based on your current home selling or your receiving proceeds from probate of a will. Other contingencies might be asking the seller to repair a roof or broken window before the close of the agreement. If you decide to waive your contingencies during a bidding war, it speaks volumes to the seller of how badly you wish to proceed with the transaction. You want to be careful though when waiving contingencies so that you do not end up in a situation where you lose your earnest money – be sure it’s a risk worth taking. 

Pay in cash

Offering to make payments for the house in cash gives you a chance over other competitors. It’s not an option everyone can afford, but if you can pay cash rather than getting financing, put the offer on the table. If you are offering to pay cash for a property you are in a bidding war to purchase, it eliminates third parties, reduces closing time, and makes the seller understand that you are serious. 

Include an escalation clause

An escalation clause is an addendum included in your offer telling the buyer that you are willing to increase your purchase offer by a certain amount if another buyer is matching your offer. An escalation clause comes in handy when you are trying to win a closely fought bidding war. 

To win a bidding war over a home you like, you must be strategic and ready to go the extra mile. Make sure your real estate agent knows your maximum budget to negotiate for you appropriately.


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Are you overpaying for water? 

You could be, if your home is not running as efficiently as it could, or if you have undiagnosed leaks or damage. Cutting your water consumption can help you save money every month, and in many cases, you won't have to change your habits at all. Try one or more of the following ideas for an immediate reduction in your water bill every month:

Seek out Leaks

A running toilet, a slow drip from a faucet or even a leaky fridge can cost you money every month, but provides no benefit at all. in some cases, that leak will get even more expensive over time, as standing water can damage your floors and allow mold and mildew to develop. Take a walk through your home and check these areas for leaks -- any problem you find and repair will reduce the water your home wastes each month and will prevent mold growth or damage, too:

  • Listen for leaks: Turn off anything that makes noise and visit the kitchen, bathroom and any room with a faucet. What do you hear? Ideally, you won't hear anything -- if you hear drips or running water, your home is wasting water. A single running toilet can boost your water bill by hundreds of dollars each year, so pay special attention to bathrooms.
  • Look for water damage: Appliances that have water or stains underneath could be leaking. The most common culprit is a fridge that has an icemaker and water dispenser. If you see or feel water, double check the lines to ensure there are no leaks. Check under sinks for moisture and note any problems. 
  • Head outside: Your outside faucets should be tightly closed and the ground below them should be totally dry. if there are drips or moisture, you are paying for a steady stream of water you are not using. You should also walk by your sprinkler heads and make sure the ground is not soggy; this could mean you have a costly leak in your sprinkler system,

Go Low Flow

Using less water when you flush, shower or wash dishes can help you save money every day. Simply switching your shower heads takes just moments, and can cut your water consumption without making a difference in your shower. Converting your toilets to low flow models or even adding some weight to the tanks can help reduce the amount of water used by each flush, according to Nerd Wallet.

Change your Habits

Your laundry and dish washing schedules will have a huge impact on your water bill. Reducing the amount of laundry you do (by decluttering and only keeping essentials you love) can help lower your energy costs and your water consumption. Hand washing small loads of dishes or rinsing and waiting for the dishwasher to be full before running allows you to use this power and water consuming appliance fewer times each week. 

Monitoring your home for leaks and running water, converting some areas to more conservative models and changing your own habits can have a significant impact on your water bill. Do all three and you'll save hundreds of dollars each year -- and run a more eco-friendly home, too.


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When it comes to protecting your high-value home in your absence, few things beat an actual living, breathing caretaker who lives on the grounds. And you'll score bonus points for hiring someone who's trained in fighting fires or apprehending invaders. Your second line of defense should be a local monitoring service that can respond on-site or that can dispatch first responders to your home should something happen while you're away. 

Security Is More Than Just Doors and Windows

The cost of your security system should increase with the value of your home, say the experts. It's no good to have a standard alarm system installed on a home that's worth a million dollars or more. High-value homes need increased security, including:

  • Monitoring of Doors and Windows
  • Monitoring of Perimeter Fences
  • Monitoring of Indoor Temperature and Humidity
  • Presence of Back-up Power Sources 
  • Presence of Indoor Sprinklers
  • Monitoring of Heat, Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Levels
  • If a pipe breaks or a basement floods in your luxury home, you should instantly be alerted. Likewise, if power to your home is interrupted. Having someone on site to keep an eye on things is paramount. Receiving alerts to your personal devices and having the ability to alert local authorities is also vital. 

    Begin With Thoughtful Construction

    The best home security begins with prevention, and this includes thoughtful construction as the site is being chosen and the home built. Homes built in storm belts need to meet additional specifications such as using reinforced glass on windows and doors and the addition of hurricane straps. Homes built in flood plains should be constructed on stilts or should at least allow space for water to flow under and around the home without breaching it. 

    Hiring professionals builders and contractors who are experienced in luxury home construction is key. And if you're buying a luxury home pre-built or opting for a historic mansion that was built a century ago, be prepared to upgrade and fortify it to deal with today's home security threats. 

    Be Discerning With Technology

    The more technology your home employs, the more opportunities bad guys have to hack into it. Technology is good, but you should have other fail-safes available in the event that it ultimately fails or worse -- it becomes the source of the intrusion. Today's newspapers are filled with horror stories from homeowners whose home security devices were hacked and used against them. Make sure your home tech is backed by a service that employs real humans who can respond in the event of an emergency.

    Securing your high-value home is a lot more complicated than it used to be, which is why a bigger investment is required. Play it safe and consult with professionals who have experience protecting luxury homes before purchasing a home security system and simply assuming it's good enough to do the job required. 



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    Staging is a marketing tool, not an exercise in decorating for living comfort. Professional real estate stagers should be a member of your team when you want to sell your home quickly and for top dollar.

    Even if you have a go-getter real estate agent and your home is in a great neighborhood, consider staging as a way to enhance value and prompt an acceptable offer in the least amount of time. Your stager will target the "right" buyer, based on price, features and demographics, to achieve results.

    Planting a "Buy Idea"

    Contrary to the popular notion of staging, it does not involve an effort to "sell," but rather encourages the  buyer to envision living in a particular home. Savvy buyers will already have determined that a specific property is within their budget, that it has the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and that the location is a desirable option. Staging will reinforce the notion that the "good life" can become reality in that house.

    Focusing on "Best" Features

    A professional stager will not attempt to highlight every feature of the home. The purpose is to provide a prospective buyer with a memorable impression that distinguishes a particular property from all others. Your stager will discuss with you the best ways to create a lasting impression, but be prepared to remove overly personal accessories for the duration of the home's time on the market.

    Minimizing Awkwardness

    No home is perfect. Whether it's a matter of perception or personal preference, most houses have at least one space that can seem difficult. A professional stager might disguise a perceived fault, or may suggest a remedy. Common requests include repainting a room, clearing kitchen and bath clutter, or pulling weeds and placing pots full of colorful flowers near the front door to boost curb appeal.

    Maximizing Existing Space

    Your stager might want to remove or rearrange furniture, or ask you to pack up and store out-of-season clothing, books, sports equipment and toys. Understand that once the home sells, you will have to begin packing anyway, and spacious interiors are a selling tool. Let prospective buyers get a sense of possibilities as they walk through your home!

    Magnifying Value

    Assuming that your home is clean, well-maintained and reasonably priced, professional staging is the best way to provoke the emotional reaction that will prompt a prospective buyer to submit an offer. Staged homes typically sell faster and at higher prices than comparable unstaged property. The higher selling price will undoubtedly pay the fee!


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    Most home shoppers do not think about how the property they are considering is zoned. However, depending on certain circumstances, it may prove beneficial to check into zoning restrictions before you purchase a home. First, some homes are built in areas where there is mixed zoning — residential and commercial — which could cause problems when you are searching for a home mortgage. Your real estate agent is obligated to inform you of any special zoning of a property you are considering.

    Work from Home Zoning Requirements

    Some municipalities have specific requirements for home office work. While those who work from home doing computer coding, telemarketing, or data entry may not have clients or other people coming in and out of their home during business hours, it is still important to verify with the city or town that local business licensing requirements are met.

    Other types of businesses that work directly with customers such as pet grooming, hairdressers, nail technicians, or day care providers should make sure their physical location is zoned appropriately. In some cities and towns, having a home business that involves customers come to your house can run afoul of zoning rules. Since your business may create additional traffic, it is something you should consider before you sign a purchase and sale agreement.

    Mixed Zoning May Increase Taxes

    As a buyer, you should also be aware of how zoning laws impact your taxes. For example, most municipalities have different tax rates for property which is zoned residential and commercial, others may have a different rate for property which is classified as mixed. In nearly all cases, property with a commercial zoning classification means higher taxes. Keep in mind, it is not unusual to find multi-family homes built in commercial or mixed zone areas.

    Buyers should be aware there are some municipalities with zoning requirements that can impact their ability to have certain outbuildings on their property including sheds, barns, and decks. Your real estate agent should be able to answer any zoning questions you have and help you determine if they will have an impact on your ability to get financing or use the property in the manner you intend.