BUYER: Making an Offer and Negotiating Terms

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STEP #4: MAKING AN OFFER AND NEGOTIATING TERMS

When you find the home that’s right for you, work with your REALTOR® to write an offer and complete a purchase agreement, detailing all of the terms and conditions of the sale between you and the seller.


Typically, when homebuyers are ready to make an offer, they meet with their Realtor and complete the Purchase Agreement form together. Although you can prepare an offer yourself, it is not recommended.

A Purchase Agreement includes detailed, complex information. If you try to write an offer by yourself, you may make mistakes, omit or include items that would put you at a disadvantage relative to other buyers or trap yourself into an agreement that is not in your best interest.

When you are ready to make an offer, look it over carefully. Have your Realtor thoroughly explain every item on the form to you so that you understand exactly what you are committing to before you actually write an offer.

Making the Offer

There are many factors that may influence the amount you would offer for a home:

  • How much you can afford
  • How badly you want the house
  • How many other buyers are interested
  • How motivated you think the seller is
  • How much work might need to be done on the house
  • How the property compares with other similar properties

Offer Contingencies

Contingencies are conditions that must be satisfied or you will not be required to go through with the purchase after your offer is accepted.

Most buyers make an Offer contingent upon their ability to obtain satisfactory mortgage financing. Without this contingency, you could risk losing your earnest money (or worse) if you cannot get a mortgage loan.

Other common contingencies include:

  • Getting a satisfactory home inspection within a specified period of time
  • Obtaining a termite inspection
  • Requiring evidence that the property meets building and safety code requirements
  • Obtaining an appraisal with a value not less than the offered price

Earnest money

When you submit an offer, you’ll likely be asked to make a deposit. This deposit is often referred to as “earnest money.” It’s given to the real estate agent to be held in an escrow account as a show of good faith on your part that you are sincere about your offer.

If the sale goes through, the amount of earnest money you put down will be deducted from the amount you owe the seller at closing. If the seller rejects your offer, or the sale falls through because one of your contingencies is not satisfied, your earnest money should be returned.

Counteroffers

Once you make an offer, the seller has the option to accept it as is, reject it or make a counteroffer proposal. If the sellers want to change some of the terms of the offer, they will make a counteroffer. It then becomes your decision whether the counteroffer is acceptable or not.

For example, the seller may counter with a higher sale price. Or, they may change or delete some of your contingencies. Or, the seller may exclude a piece of personal property that you wanted included in the sale, such as appliances.

If you receive a counteroffer, you have the option of accepting or rejecting it — or making another counteroffer. This is the negotiation process that leads to a final offer that both parties agree upon.