Some seem so simple to me. Get your finances in order. Make sure you truly know what are the must have's and wanna have's in the home. See if there are any contingencies you are willing to remove or shorten time periods for. Inspections can be done quickly, easy-peasy to shorten that one.
Don't only go house hunting when it's convenient. Be prepared to jump when a new one hits the market. Oh lordy, don't dawdle about writing an offer either, be prepared to write one immediately! May even have to consider trusting your Realtor and writing sight un-seen. ONLY if you trust your Realtor to know you well enough!
A lot will depend upon the market you are seeking a home in and which price point you are smack dab in the middle of. Anything under 500k here in Santa Clarita, if it's a lovely home & priced correctly, it will likely have multiple offers.
With that said....I'm presuming you are in the price point that has multiple offers, consider this:
Put your best foot forward.
As in life, as in a job interview, as in Real Estate,
put the bestest of the best foot forward....right from the start.
Write your best offer. Don't even consider a low-ball offer, unless you want to be rejected outright or not even considered in a multiple counter offer. Write a super clean offer. Short closing time. Give the seller the time they need, make sure the contract excludes what is written as an exclusion in the MLS. Don't ask for too much, geez, try not to ask for closing costs either. Shorten up those contingency periods. Not unrealistically though. If you've got cash, use it. The larger down payment, the more secure the seller will feel about selecting your offer.
Please don't write an offer then disappear off the face of the earth. You'll lose out if your agent needs to discuss counter offer negotiations.
Love letter, yes I've spoken about those before. Consider not just a 'Dear Seller of 123 ABC street'. Be certain to address it to the seller directly, know their name, let them know yours, add a family photo and why you love their home & what you fell in love with. Don't go over the top, but let those sellers know who you are. Unless you're a turd of course! LOL
One last thing, it actually worked for one of my buyers.....offer a little incentive to the seller. My buyers noticed that the sellers were fans of a particular football team. Buyers had season seats and offered a couple tix to a game. Not sure if it helped, but it warmed up the situation!
Think outside the box. Be prepared to possibly pay over appraised value. And, don't cry if you don't get the one house that you thought was perfect. What is meant to be will be. And a better one, that's perfect for those feet of yours....will definitely come along!