In a competitive market, Dianne, you're asking - how does a buyer stand out?
It's glib to say, "have the best offer," but we all know that sometimes - SOME TIMES, as in, "rarely," - sellers do not take the best offer.
I think that when you hear the stories, the few times that a buyer wins out over a better offer, it's because . . .
-- the terms of the offer were clear. Instead of an escalation clause of $750 over any offer up to $517,350 - they offered $511,000. Straight up.
- the contingencies were easy to understand. It's not subject to inspection but it's subject to neighborhood review, title review, and attorney review? Maybe if you made it subject to inspection, the buyer could clear those other items up during the inspection period!
- the buyers like the house. Dave Barry's book, Homes & Other Black Holes, describes a negotiation where the buyer basically says, "I hate your house and the land it sits on but I'll give you $125,000 for it." I'm not a fan of "love letters," but if the letter is about the property, it can go a long way. "I have always loved wood paneling in the rec room, and look forward to hunting my own deer so I can place its head upon the mantle." Or, something like that.