At this point in time, houses are not sitting on the market for very long. The good ones are going fast. This latest offer she put in, the home had a second offer come in right after, and they accepted that. Her offer was a good offer, but their offer was better. And even though I can advise my buyers, the terms of the offer really comes down to the buyers decision.
So here's what I'm seeing happening on homes that are selling very fast. You need to make sure you're writing a clean offer, meaning, have as few contingencies on your offer as possible. Contingencies are a condition or an action that must be met in order for a real estate contract to become binding, and if it doesn't occur, the contract can become null and void. One contingency is the inspection contingency. This is one I NEVER advise clients to skip because it unearths potential problems that you may not want to deal with. You may decide to not ask for an inspection contingency if it's an extreme fixer upper and it's being sold "as is" because you're going to fix it up anyways. For a fixer upper, you can ask the buyer if they'll let you inspect anyways so you can start your renovation plan.
Another common contingency is a home sale contingency. That means the buyer has to sell their home first before being able to buy the new home. As it is now, a home on the market is only allowed to have one home sale contingency. So if you require this, your offer may not be accepted purely because they already have one home sale contingency offer that they accepted.
Another common contingency is a financing contingency, which says that the buyer has to qualify and obtain financing in order to sell your home. When an offer is written, your real estate agent will have the documentation to back up the contingencies. Sellers also consider how much of a downpayment you submit with your offer. Maybe offering a little more would make your offer more attractive.
I can hear the protests now! The majority of buyers require financing to purchase a home, that's true. However, having your prequalification letter in hand is a good step. But you could talk to your lender and have them start to process your application. They can get up to a certain point before they have to stop because they need the address of the home you're buying.
That leads to my next point. Think of this.... The sellers of the home you want to buy may be in the same position you're in. They may be wanting to buy a home, but they can't until their home is sold. Typically we put 60 days to close into the offers, telling the sellers you will have everything done and completed in time to get the keys in 60 days. However, because the sellers may be wanting to buy a new home, they may want to close faster. So offering a quick close (45 or even 30 days) might make your offer more attractive to the sellers. They'd get their money faster so they can buy their next place. Before you do that though, you need to check with your lender first to see if they're able to complete everything in that time. Taking the steps necessary to do that now may just allow you to offer a quick close.
Another word needs to be said about the offer. Fair and strong offers are important. However, for my client, her offers were fair. Think of it this way... this is an asset you're purchasing. It's so easy to get into a bidding war and overpay. Your realtor should be giving you the prices of homes that have sold in the area, and can advise you of what the home's current value should be. In this last instance, it's entirely possible the other offer was higher, but then they'd be overpaying.
There's a reason we got into the housing mess in the past.... So just because you were outbid doesn't mean you did anything wrong. It's entirely possible the other buyer is overpaying. You can put in your offer as a backup offer if you really like the home. If something falls through with the first buyer, you can ask to be considered first. This does happen and it's not uncommon. So if you have the time to wait it out, then that may be an option for you.