Real Estate

How to Avoid a Bidding War in Washington’s Hot Housing Market

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“Close down the open house.”

That’s what some agents call it when buyers convince a seller to accept their offer before the first open house even happens. To accomplish this, you’ll likely have to deploy the typical strategies: Offer above list price with a solid preapproval letter and down payment, waive contingencies, and agree to close on the seller’s timeline. But agents say a little detective work is what can really make the difference.

Build rapport with the seller’s agent to learn what will motivate her client. For instance, Long & Foster’s Leigh Reed once found out that a seller had to go to Afghanistan for work. She advised her buyers to include in their offer a “dumpster clause” stating that the seller could leave everything he didn’t want in the house and they would dispose of it for him. It worked.

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 and was a senior editor until 2022.