A shortage of housing listings in Metro Vancouver has officially created a seller’s market in the city, sparking bidding wars and home sales hundreds of thousands of dollars over the asking price. So how does the average buyer compete in this hot market?

No subjects

Realtor David Richardson’s last four listings sold for around $200,000 over asking and most of the offers his clients receive have no subjects.

"All cash offers, no conditions with a bank draft attached, those are the offers to pay attention to," said Richardson.  

That means potential buyers need financing in order before even walking into an open house.

"Having your ducks in a row means a pre-approval where you have your letter of employment, your pay stub, your down payment, all of the documentation has been provided, so that when you have that offer, your lender can move quite quickly," said mortgage broker Cara Savege.

Don’t forget the inspection

Having no conditions attached to your offer, doesn’t mean not doing your homework. Have your inspector ready so you can call them at a moment’s notice and bring them to the open house to do the inspection on the spot.

Do your homework

Check out the title and the property disclosure statement in advance. Also check out to make sure there's nothing in the history of the property that will be detrimental to its future use.

Appeal to the seller directly

Realtor Sarah Daniels suggests if you’re bidding against a developer for the property, you should try appeal to the seller’s soft side and write a letter.

'"The fact that you've written a letter saying we can see our family growing up here, we love the neighbourhood, the schools, you know that may pull on the heart strings of the seller," said Daniels.

Take a step back

Finally, realtors say buyers need to calm down right now. Everyone's desperate to find the perfect house,  which may not even exist, unless you've got very deep pockets.  There are a lot of homes out there. If you're patient and realistic, you'll eventually find the home that's right for you.