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From escalator clauses to earnest money, here are some helpful tips for landing your buyers’ dream house from an industry investment expert.

1. Make sure they are preapproved: About three or four months before home buyers even shop for a home, they should review their credit reports to make sure they’re accurate and take short-term steps to improve their credit score, says Michael Corbett, author of Before You Buy! Corbett says buyers then should get a bank’s preapproval. While that won’t guarantee they’ll get the loan, it shows sellers that a lender has verified the buyer’s income and credit score to determine that she can afford payments on a mortgage for a certain amount.

2. Don’t lowball: Buyers may only get one chance to get the home they want in a competitive market. They may not get a second try to sweeten the deal later, so a lowball offer the first time around could cause them to lose out. Buyers should use sales prices of comparable properties in the neighborhood to submit their best offer the first time around.

3. Consider an escalator clause: These purchase contract clauses are becoming more popular again. This is when the buyer agrees to increase their offer if there’s a higher bid from another buyer.

4. Add earnest money: The extra deposit can show sellers how serious the buyer is. Some buyers may even double the amount that the seller requests to show their commitment in purchasing the home.

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