- You’ve found at least one dream home that seems to tick most of the boxes.
- You’ve researched and read all the documents about the property that your agent sent you.
- You know what you’re pre-approved for and what you can afford versus what you WANT to afford.
- You have enough money in your checking account to write an earnest money check to go along with the offer paperwork, too.
So… It’s time to make an offer!
What goes into your offer?
Your agent is trained to help walk you through the process of writing an offer. The offer form is long and looks intimidating, but it serves an important purpose. It details exactly what you are willing to give in order to buy the specific property you want, and has protections built in and deadlines that both parties need to adhere to.
Here are some things to think about as you compose your offer:
- Asking price is one thing, but what is the maximum sales price you are willing to pay? You will most likely offer less to start unless the home is priced to sell and you really like it.
- Will you ask for the seller to pay any of your buyer’s closing costs? These costs are charged by the mortgage lender at closing and total about 3% of the total loan amount. Sellers are not obligated to pay these, but sometimes they are willing to assist.
- What else do you want to include in your offer as contingencies (items that must be satisfied for you to agree to buy the home)? A certain closing date? Do you want the home to be professionally cleaned before closing? Is there a special chandelier that you want to stay with the home? Do you need the yard decluttered and mowed before you move in?
- What items do you expect to come with the home? Carefully review the bill of sale they provide, or create one of your own to clearly document what you expect (i.e. refrigerator or window coverings) and how much you’ll pay for them with a separate check.
Meet your agent and write your first offer
Once an offer is made, sellers always have three possible responses: accept it, reject it, or counter it (negotiation has begun!). It is good to always be prepared for a counter offer unless your initial offer is extremely low (which can simply cause a non-response and may result in hurt feelings).
Waiting for a response
Waiting for a response to your offer can be an exciting time. Whether you realize it or not, the agreement your agent turned in for you has started a timeclock. You’ve given the seller a deadline to respond. They and their agent need time to get together and carefully review the offer you’ve submitted. If there are competing offers, they will need to review those as well, and they may call for your best and final offer in that case.
While you wait to hear some news, it’s good to put yourself in the seller’s shoes. Think about their potential response, and how you might respond to it. If you have looked for months and this MUST be your new home, you’ll be more likely to meet their counter. If you know there are other homes out there that will work fine for your family, you may be willing to step out of the negotiation process and move on if they don’t concede in certain areas.
- How will they likely feel about the amount – is it close to a full price offer, or a bit low? A “lowball offer” may elicit a negative reaction from the seller.
- Did you ask for a price concession AND closing cost assistance? If so, they will be mentally deducting both dollar amounts as money/profit they stand to lose.
- If the sellers counter your offer, decide what is most important to you: The total sales price (i.e. your monthly mortgage payment) or seller help with your closing costs (if you are short on cash in hand). The seller may only be willing to concede one of these items.
Inside the seller’s mind (Psychology 101)
- Is the home more of a fixer upper than move in ready? They may be mentally calculating how much money they will need to spend on inspector-required repairs.
- Is the home new on the market? They may not respond to a lower offer if they feel other buyers may want their home more and are willing to make a stronger offer.
- How strong is your financing? They will look at your loan and ask their agent how likely it is to be underwritten and how much of a downpayment it required.
- Does you offer have lots of contingencies that other offers may not? Are you asking for a longer closing period? Is your offer contingent on the sale of an existing home? These factors can make your offer look less desirable to a seller.
Do you have any tips to recommend? Add them to the comments section below!
You’ve Received a Response – What Happens next? Tune in for Part III
Tune in to my next blog entry for tips on what when a seller responds to your offer!