How to Make the Winning Bid in a Hot Market Like San Diego

San Diego skyline at dusk with overlay text.

In a highly competitive seller’s market like San Diego, it can seem impossible to purchase a home. It seems like you have no time to think; if you hesitate, the house will be off the market the next morning.

So does this mean you need to make a huge offer right away just to purchase a home? Does it mean you need to settle for something further down the road, resulting in a long commute and lengthy distance from downtown?

Absolutely not! With the right strategy, you can win an offer in San Diego while getting a gorgeous home in the city love.

What It Takes to Win an Offer in San Diego

Whether you want to live in San Diego or you are struggling to make a purchase in another seller’s market, these tips will increase your chances of finally making the winning offer…

Get Pre-Approved to Strengthen Your Offer

Aside from price, pre-approval may be one of the most important factors for sellers. To increase your chances of making the winning bid, be sure that you are pre-approved for the loan so the seller knows you mean business.

To get pre-approved, you’ll have to work with your lender and provide them with documentation that proves your income. Paycheck stubs, W2s, and other information will help your pre-approval. Sellers will prefer someone who is pre-approved for a loan because it shows they are ready and able to make the purchase. Unless it is a cash offer, most sellers won’t consider your bid until you’ve been pre-approved for a specific loan amount. Advance approval should also be used to reduce times.

Be the First to Make an Offer

The seller certainly doesn’t have to accept the first offer that comes across their desk, but it never hurts to be the first one in line. Making the first offer puts your name in front of the seller and increases your chances of getting accepted. While you don’t want to rush anything, and you certainly don’t want to send an outrageous offer, being first on more properties may be the key to finally winning a home in San Diego.

With the right strategy, you can win an offer in San Diego.

Offer an Escalation Clause

An escalation clause is basically an added note that if someone else bids higher, you’re willing to increase your offer to a specific amount. Say you make an offer for $500,000 but you suspect that someone else will offer more. You could add an escalation clause that states you would be willing to go up to $530,000.

Be sure to add a note that the offer is contingent on someone else offering more than your initial offer. These additions usually go up in increments, by about $1,000 or $2,000 until you reach your limit.

Let the Seller Know How Much You Love the House

Real estate can get caught up in numbers, percentages, contingencies, credit scores, and all other forms of dispassionate jargon. But sometimes emotions count. If you truly love a home, it doesn’t hurt to tell the seller just how much you love it; it fact, it might just convince the current owner to accept your offer over another’s.

Tell the seller how much you would love to have your kids running in the hallways and playing in the back yard. Let them know you would be truly grateful to cook top-notch meals in their kitchen. It might seem sappy, but a little sentimentality could make the difference.

Make an Offer with as Few Contingencies as Possible

Every contingency you have is a road block to owning the home. To increase your chances of a successful bid, do whatever you can to reduce the overall amount of contingencies. If you absolutely want to own this home, drop contingencies such as selling your home first; few sellers want to wait on your house. Instead, look to non-contingent offers, such as bridge loans, to increase your chances of a successful bid. Talk with your real estate and lending agents to find out what other contingencies can be dropped from your bid.

If possible, you should also keep the contingency periods short so the seller can quickly move to selling the home in as little time as possible.

Some contingencies, however, should remain. The inspections, for example, are crucial to ensuring the quality of your purchase, and few in the real estate industry would ever recommend purchasing a home without first having proper inspections completed by a professional.

Agree to the Seller’s Move-In Dates

If your seller has a specific move in date that conflicts with your plans, don’t let that stop you from owning the home. By agreeing to their move-in dates, you may have to rent a house for a short period of time or pay multiple mortgages for a couple of months, but you will also increase your chances of landing the home, which, in the long run, is a much better alternative. By being flexible with move-in dates, you’ll increase your bid’s appeal to sellers all across San Diego.

Speed the Escrow Process

Some people want to sell the home as quickly as possible so they can move on with their lives. This is especially true if the current owner is an investor, which means they likely want to sell the home fast and get to the next deal quickly. Time is essential with real estate investors, so anything you can do to shorten the escrow period, as well as other phases of the process, will increase the chances that you win an offer in San Diego.

Get Pre-Approved to Increase Your Chances of a Winning Bid

If you want more information on a home purchases and loans in San Diego, contact the team at San Diego Purchase Loans. We can help you get pre-approved for a top-quality loan, setting you up for success once you start searching for your house.

With patience, research, and the right help, you’ll find the San Diego home you’ve always wanted!



“Thank you for all the hard work (even on weekends!) you and your team have devoted to seeing this through in a very efficient manner. It’s been an easy process for me and, you and your team have been a delight to work with.”

“Chad and his team are exactly who you want handling the financing of your home. Whether it be a new purchase or refinance, he and his team are one of the most professional, responsive group of people I’ve worked with. Buying a home can be very stressful and Chad and his team took all of the necessary steps to make the process as painless and as quick as possible. They are extremely knowledgeable, organized and have great follow through. You won’t ever be left wondering what the next steps are. I highly recommend him and will use him in all of our real estate transactions moving forward.”

Chad Baker and his team are amazing!

My husband and I found Chad through an article he had written. Every aspect of working with Chad and his team was exceptional. From our initial phone call where he explained the many options we had, to advice he gave in dealing with somewhat challenging sellers, and closing our loan ahead of schedule, the loan process with Chad and his team went very smoothly. I especially appreciated the one-on one guidance from Juliann, who really made me feel like I was her only client. I look forward to working with Chad and his team again and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a mortgage.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. It's my goal to keep you updated with the latest real estate mortgage news. I'm proud to provide you with 100% original and unique content. Subscribe now to get high quality real estate mortgage content and articles delivered directly to your inbox. Chad Baker is Regional Manager for Cross Country Mortgage. Chad is consistently recognized in the top 1% of mortgage originators in the United States 2011-2019. Got a question for Chad? Call (858) 353-8331 or submit your question online