By Shelley Sakala

You did your research. You found the perfect house. You’re pre-approved for a loan. You’re ready with your down payment—only to find out you lost the house to someone else.

In the current housing market, this is fairly common. Homes sell quickly, and desirable homes even more so. We’re seeing multiple offers and sale prices above listing. When this happens, even a perfectly qualified buyer like yourself might end up watching someone else snag the home of your dreams. There is, however, a little-known secret that can help boost your chances of getting the home you want.

Before I share the secret, first let me take you inside the mind of the seller. When selling a home, your top priorities are price, speed, and ease of sale. In a seller’s market, the seller can demand all three. That’s what’s known as leverage. It’s not unlike the classic TV sitcom Seinfeld, whose characters dutifully lined up to purchase lunch from the infamous “Soup Nazi.” Follow the rules, and you’ll get your soup. Break the rules, and it’s “No soup for you!” The Soup Nazi didn’t mind losing a customer. There was always another one waiting to step in. The current real estate market has the same energy. You have to play by the seller’s rules. This includes being qualified and prepared, without a laundry list of deal-killing conditions and contingencies. Make it fast and easy.

But sometimes that’s not enough. Sellers don’t always accept the highest offer or the fastest one or the easiest one. Sometimes they choose the offer with the highest likelihood of closing on time. Perhaps the sellers are transferring out of state for a new job. Or maybe they need this house to close as a contingency for a house they’re buying. The last thing they want is for a deal to fall through and disrupt their life plans. For that reason, sellers may look for the most solid offer on the table. This is where my secret comes in.

One of the best advocates you can have is your lender. After all, money talks – and the lender is the one with the money. When you find yourself competing for a house alongside other buyers, imagine the impact of your lender contacting the seller to confirm that the deal (and the financing) is rock solid. That’s a level of comfort that just might propel you past everyone else.

So, can’t any lender make the same type of phone call on behalf of the client? Sure, they can. But getting them to do it is a whole different story. Lending companies process loans for an ever-changing book of clients with rolling deadlines that must be met. Larger firms have more clients (and more deadlines). Smaller firms have fewer staff members to handle their ongoing business. This means if you want a lender to go to bat for you, his or her company needs to be properly and fully staffed to allow for the personal touch you require. If you’re working with a large-scale national lender or a faceless web-based lending service, the odds of someone making phone calls on your behalf are pretty slim (and even slimmer if your loan officer is out-of-state, as time differences come into play).

To find a lender who can advocate for you, start with list of reputable companies, and then make some calls. Take note of how easy or difficult it is to reach a loan officer. See if the person on the website is the person you’re speaking with. Keep track of how quickly you get your messages returned. Ask questions. And be upfront about what you need and expect. You’ll get a pretty good idea if the person you’re speaking with is willing to go the extra mile to get you into your dream home.

To skip the research and connect with a knowledgeable, helpful, and loyal lender who can help get the deal done, I recommend Josh Heape of Canopy Mortgage. He can be reached via e-mail at jheape@canopymortgage.com or by phone at 602-330-6446.

Shelley Sakala is a local realtor with The Sakala Group.