More people are taking the leap to homeownership as a result of rising rent prices, job security, low interest rates and generous home loan programs.  And that just might be your dilemma, that many people are doing this, and for good reason, but it might be making the market a bit more competitive.  In areas where inventory is low, homes are being snatched up in a matter of days.  To help you land the home you want, follow this guide to give you the edge in a competitive market.

Get a pre-approval letter.  A pre-approval letter shows you’ve been vetted, you’re serious and you’re ready.  This also gives you a realistic idea of how much of a mortgage you can afford so you can limit your search to houses in your price range before setting your sites on properties out of reach.

Make sure your agent gets the scoop.  A good agent will find out the scope of interested parties in a house before writing an offer.  Knowing how many people have seen it and written offers on it will tell you how aggressive you need to be.  Knowing the seller’s story and timeline can also work to your advantage.  Something that doesn’t match up with the sellers timeline might get rejected.  It also lets us know in advance to start preparing for a bidding war.

Be flexible with timing.   That being said, you can improve your chances of landing the home you want if sellers know that you are willing to work with their schedules in as quickly– or as slowly–a manner as necessary.

Make it personal.  Real estate is a visual industry: you look at homes, you look at neighborhoods, you look at the numbers, sellers look at offers.  All of this can get cold and impersonal.  Consider adding a personal letter that shows why you love the house and what you plan to use it for.  Some people with an emotional attachment to the home they’re selling may be inclined to sell it to someone they know will take care of it and appreciate it the way they did.

Pay more upfront.  Money talks.  You can beef up your offer by providing more money up front in your earnest money deposit.  The cash works as insurance for the seller in case the buyer backs out of the deal.  Knowing you have more skin in the game might make take your offer as the safe bet.