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How To Win Homebuying Bidding Wars


Low inventory has been a real estate headline on Oahu for more than a year, and is the primary market condition driving housing prices higher. With the inventory of homes for sale inadequate to meet an ever-growing demand, low supply and high demand can often result in multiple offers or homes that ultimately sell above the asking price. In other words, bidding wars.

If you’re actively shopping for a home, chances are you’ve run into this common scenario, especially in certain Oahu neighborhoods. Worse, you may have lost out on that perfect dream home, even after offering the seller full price.

What can you do to make your offer stronger, more competitive and stand out to the seller?

We asked Elina Grugier-Bell, Assistant Vice President and Manager of the Mortgage Banking Department at First

Hawaiian Bank, to share some insight as to how buyers might gain the advantage when making an offer to buy a property. Here’s what she says.


Getting a leg up on the other guys doesn’t always mean offering more money. Since most offers are likely going to be contingent on qualifying for a mortgage, you can strengthen your offer by giving the seller some assurance that your loan will be approved.

This can be accomplished by getting prequalified. According to Grugier-Bell, to get prequalified, the lender takes all the financial information you provide and returns an amount that you might expect to be approved for.

“Have your lender verify all aspects of your financial and credit background,” she says. “Prequalifications will always be subject to verification of financial positions at the time you enter into a sales contract and need final loan approval. Changes in your position may affect the outcome of the final approval.”

Once you are prequalified, the lender will provide a letter, which specifically states you’re prequalified and can be attached to your purchase offer. And along with the letter, you can attach your banker’s business card to emphasize that you are actively working with a lender. This is all intended to let the seller know you are serious and provide an additional comfort level to your offer.


Money talks. Another way to get the upper hand when submitting an offer is to boost your down payment amount. Grugier-Bell says, “Cash is King,” as sellers may accept a lower offer, just because there is more cash.

Look at what sources of funds may be available to you. For example, “Gifted funds from relatives can help increase your down payment amount, or the amount of cash that you’re willing to pay,” says Grugier-Bell.


Sometimes, having a contingency in your offer to sell your current home before closing on your purchase can make your offer less competitive. Sellers don’t want to wait that long.

“We have assisted many of our clients who need to sell their home in order to afford the next one, with an equity line or an equity loan,” she says. “If you plan to sell right away, this can work as bridge financing.”

When asked if there is anything specifically she would warn buyers about, Grugier-Bell says, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Know your financial comfort zone, discuss all your options with your banker and walk through the final impact to your overall financial picture before you make an offer. Also, recent changes in federal lending regulations have made the mortgage loan process slightly more complicated and time-consuming. Getting prequalified will help keep the loan process in sync and minimize delays.”

First Hawaiian Bank Mortgage Loan Officers can guide you through the process and highlight your options to give you an advantage in today’s competitive housing market. Come in to any branch to get started today.

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