The past two week's experience demonstrates what an interesting and dynamic market we are currently in. I had clients lose out on a competing situation to another party that decided to go "subject free" on their offer of the same amount as my client's.
Typically, offers on homes are subject to a number of conditions, such as financing and a clean inspection. These are standard hoops to jump through for all parties that are designed to protect a buyer from making a bad investment, but they are hoops.
As you can imagine, removing those hoops and submitting an offer subject free is one way to outbid competition. However it leaves the buyer in a very precarious position (and not one that I would personally want to endorse under most circumstances) due to the risk of latent defects that may exist in a home or property. While patent defects are those that are easily identified like a roof or a visible leak, latent defects aren't so easy to see and may not even be known to a seller. These can include things like cracked foundations, incorrect wiring, and other major structural flaws. These can cost a lot of money to remedy. There is a good reason why inspections are recommended. Without them, the buyer assumes a very substantial risk that the property may not be as fit as it seems on first look.
In this market people are making decisions often without a second showing, which speaks to the difficulty buyers are having finding suitable properties. I recall a couple years back hearing about buyers in Vancouver dragging their building inspector with them house hunting so they could compete with a subject free offer, and while it seems extreme and inconvenient, it sure beats finding out that the plumbing or electrical makes the house uninsurable without further substantial investment. Taking a friend or relying on a relative who knows something about house construction isn't really a safe way of ensuring the integrity of a property and it sure isn't a great way to maintain positive relations if something is missed. (We are fortunate to have a number of great inspectors on the Coast so give me a shout at 604-885-4313 if you'd like a recommendation).
The driving factor in real estate, as in so many purchases in life, is Caveat Emptor or Buyer Beware. I take protecting your investment very seriously, and while it may be a challenge to figure out ways to protect yourself in such a brisk market, it is far better to be safer than sorry when it comes to such a heavy investment as real estate.