The winner is usually the most qualified buyer who offers the best price with the fewest strings attached. A clean offer is one that is not loaded with contingencies (conditions that must be satisfied to complete the sale).
One way to put yourself ahead of the pack is to satisfy as many conditions as possible before presenting your offer.
For example, you may not be able to receive complete approval for financing, but you can get pre-approved for a loan. Also, we can find out as much as we can about the sellers and their situation.
If we happen to run into the sellers while touring their home, let them know how much you admire their home. (When you are in competition with other buyers, there is no point in putting up a poker face.)
Sellers can be swayed by emotional appeal, particularily if they are weighing several similar offers. Try to stand out from the pack. We usually include a written biographical and financial sketch of our buyers with their offer.
In a really competitive market you may want to do a home inspection prior to drafting your offer.