In this market cash is king, the next best thing (to get the attention of the seller) is submitting an offer not contingent on financing.
For those who cannot/won't do the above, a pre approval is the next best thing. It's important to let the listing agent know you are pre approved and all the bank needs to do is order an appraisal (make sure the subject building is on the lender's approved list as well). Those with enough extra cash will make their contingent offer not subject to an appraisal.
From the New York Times;Promoting Mortgage Preapprovals in Competitive Markets