You’ve found the home of your dreams. Now for the tricky part – getting the seller to accept your offer!
Learn how to make an offer on a house from the experts at BHHS Fox & Roach. We’ll walk you through the process, offer tips for handling multiple bids, and help you negotiate the best deal.
The Process Of Making An Offer
Making an offer on a house requires research, strategy, and a dash of real estate savvy. With the right real estate agent and an understanding of a few key concepts, you’ll be ready to navigate this stage of the homebuying process with confidence and ease.
1. Tell Your Agent You’d Like to Make an Offer
Ideally, you should make sure you’re financially ready before you make an offer. You’ll want to get a mortgage pre-qualification or pre-approval and confirm you can afford the house by double-checking your budget. Let your agent know you’ve done this prep work and you’re ready to proceed. They’ll get the listing agent’s contact information to initiate the process.
2. Your Agent Contacts the Listing Agent
Your real estate agent will move quickly to contact the seller’s listing agent. They’ll find out if the sellers are still accepting offers, if there are any others on the table, and gather information about the seller. The more they can discover about the seller’s motivations, the better. This will help you create a house offer that’s aligned with their expectations – both financially and time-wise.
3. Plan Your Formal Offer with Your Agent
Now it’s time to strategize. You’ll work with your real estate agent to decide what to offer on a house. Consider your budget, comparable homes on the market, how long the property’s been for sale, the condition of the home, and whether there are competing bids.
For example, if there are other offers on the table, it might make sense to present your strongest offer upfront, versus allowing a lot of room for negotiation.
You’ll also want to factor in any details the real estate agent learned about the seller. Are they in a hurry to sell? You could propose a closing date that works for their schedule.
4. Send Your Offer Letter to the Seller
Before submitting an offer on a house, your real estate agent will prepare a formal document that includes:
- the amount of your bid
- any contingencies (such as a home inspection)
- seller concessions (like cash toward closing costs)
- any items you’d like included in the sale (like appliances)
- dates (closing, move-in, deadline to reply)
If you have a mortgage pre-approval letter from your seller, send a copy along with the offer. This will reassure the seller that you’re serious and have the financing in place to move forward.
In addition to the formal offer, it’s also a good idea to include a letter to the seller. A real estate offer letter conveys a genuine personal message about why the buyer wants to own the home. In some cases, the letter might persuade the seller to consider the offer, even if it isn’t as competitive as other bids.
When you submit the house offer, you can specify how long the seller has to respond. In most cases, this is 24-72 hours.
5. Seller Accepts, Rejects, or Counteroffers
So, what happens when you make an offer on a house? There are three possible outcomes:
- Seller accepts – Congratulations! You’re one step closer to your new home. If you requested a home inspection, you’ll need to arrange this before you finalize the offer and set a closing date.
- Seller rejects – If the seller chooses another offer, unfortunately, you’ll have to resume your house search. Sometimes, the seller will reject an offer if it’s much lower than the asking price, so you want to be careful it doesn’t offend them. They may also be set on their price and not willing to negotiate.
- Seller counteroffers – If the seller is willing to negotiate on price or terms, they’ll propose a counteroffer. You usually have 24-72 hours to respond.
6. Negotiate (if necessary)
Price isn’t the only variable. Many elements of the transaction are negotiable – timeline, concessions, closing cost assistance, fixtures, home assets, etc. Talk to your real estate professional about how you can get the results you want – without giving up too much.
For example, if the seller isn’t willing to pay your closing costs, see if they’ll pay a portion of them or include a home warranty. That way, if you’re short on cash, you’ll have some protection from unexpected expenses. Another option is to ask if they’ll leave their window treatments, appliances, or lawnmower. These costs can add up quickly, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer.
The negotiations may continue if your home inspection reveals expensive problems. Depending on the severity of the issue and the homeowner’s motivation to sell, they may or may not want to pay for the repairs or reduce the asking price. You’ll need to carefully consider and balance the risks. But remember, as long as you included a contingency for the home inspection in your offer, you can still walk away from the deal at this point.
7. Mutual Acceptance and Closing
Once both parties agree, they’ll sign a purchase contract. Putting a contract on a house involves finalizing the terms in writing and setting a closing date. Closing on a house is the last step in a real estate transaction. Typically, your closing date will be four to six weeks after the seller accepts your offer and you sign the purchase contract.
With a level-headed, strategic approach, you can gain the upper hand when making an offer on a house. Rely on the expertise of a BHHS Fox & Roach real estate professional to guide you through this critical stage of the homebuying process.