How to Make an Offer on a House

Whether you’re buying your first house or looking to purchase your forever home, there are many different routes to success. Some buyers may attend lots of open houses while others prefer to start their journey online. One thing, however, is a constant in purchasing a home: Making an offer to the seller.

Once you’ve decided on the right home for you, it’s time to make an offer! Your real estate agent will walk you through this process in detail, including any applicable laws in your area.

However, there are a few important things to know.

Offers & Contracts

A “verbal offer” is not binding and doesn’t create an enforceable obligation on the part of the seller to sell or on the part of the buyer to buy. Until you’ve put all material terms of your offer in writing and you’ve signed it, the offer is not binding. Until it’s signed by the seller, the offer does not bind either party.

However, once the offer is signed, it becomes a binding contract according to its terms, subject to any and all contingencies in the offer. Make sure you discuss this process with your agent in detail – and never sign anything you don’t understand.

Negotiating an Offer to Buy a Home

In days past, “offer low and get a counteroffer” was very common. However, today’s sellers (and their listing agents) are more savvy. While you may be able to offer less than the asking price, a dramatically low offer may not even be considered.

Today’s transactions can also move quickly! There may not be time to make multiple offers – so make the most of yours.

When it comes to competing offers, a seller isn’t obligated to offer you a “right of first refusal” or a chance to improve your offer. This might happen as part of negotiations, but it isn’t required.

Understanding the Offer

Always read an offer and make sure you know what’s in it. This includes making sure any appliances or other such inclusions are listed in the contract. Just because it’s in the MLS listing or marketing materials doesn’t necessarily mean it is legally part of the offer, so make sure you know what you’re getting by including it in the contract.

If you don’t understand the terms of the offer, ask your real estate agent to clarify. If you need legal, tax, or other advice, consult with a professional in that field.

Are you looking for more information about purchasing a home? Not sure how to start, or what the steps are? Howard Hanna is here for you! We’ve written the book on how to buy a home in 2020, and packed it full of quizzes, worksheets, and helpful hints to get you into the home of your dreams. Click here to get your free guide.

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