There are a number of options, working within the confines of the TREC promulgated contract, for a homebuyer to sweeten their offer, without raising the sale price--however, many of those options do result in a small cost.
1.) Survey. In the contract, there are options to check relating to whether the seller or buyer is responsible for the survey if (a) the seller doesn't have survey, or the seller's survey and T-47 aren't acceptable to the lender or title company. From the initial offer forward, the buyer should offer to assume the costs of the survey if a new survey is needed. Beware, however, that, for an irregular lot, creekside lot, or something similar, the survey could run as high as $700-$1,000.
2.) Short option period. Assuming you or your Realtor has an inspector who can get to the property and inspect soon after going under contract, shorten the option period, and offer to pay an option fee of $100-$200, creditable to the sale price. If the inspection reveals something that needs further inspection (HVAC, structural engineer, etc.), you can negotiate to extend the option period based on what was uncovered during the inspection.
3.) Don't ask for a home warranty. This is typically a $500 decrease from the seller's net on most single-family homes, While I'd still recommend you get a home warranty, don't ask the seller to cover the cost.
4.) Shorten the time for buyer's credit approval in the Addendum for Third Party Financing. Check with your lender and get a commitment on how quickly they can process the buyer credit approval upon receiving the contract. Use the shortest period acceptable to the lender that the lender can meet.
5.) Offer the shortest possible closing date. Even in this market, a good lender can close within 30 days.
6.) Ensure your buyer's agent communicates to the seller that you are open to a leaseback if needed. If needed, the seller's agent can counter with a leaseback amendment.
7.) Put up a reasonable amount of earnest money. So long as you abide by the contract and do not default, even if the house does not appraise or something similar happens, the buyer would have their earnest money returned if the sale does not close. However, if you miss a deadline in third party financing, etc., your earnest money could be in jeopardy.
8.) Unless absolutely necessary to your future use of the property, don't reserve objections to the title commitment. If you know you want to do something you aren't sure deed restrictions will permit (like build a detached garage, pool, fencing, circular driveway in the front, etc.), it isn't advisable to waive these objections. However, raising objections you don't intend to actually use as an exit option for the contract.
9.) Get your initial pre-approval or pre-qualification from a lender with in-house underwriting and a record of closing deals on time. Seller's agents frequently contact the lender and a lender who is "iffy" on the phone to a seller's agent won't inspire confidence.
Nathan Grace Real Estate