The Offer Process

Now that it's finally time to present your offer, what are the next steps?

If you are like the majority of homebuyers today, you began your home search on the Internet. You have also been able to view thousands of property listings through the MLS online, you have likely attended dozens of open houses in the communities you are interested in living, and you have viewed many more properties with your real estate agent.

Once you narrow down the selection to your preferred house, it's finally time to make an offer to the seller!

The Offer Process

Working through your agent or attorney, you will draft an offer with price and terms that you are comfortable with and that you think, hopefully, the seller can accept.

The first issue that comes to mind for most people when making an offer on a property is, of course, price. However, terms that also need to be considered and presented in the offer are such items as the earnest money, down payment you are making, mortgage loan amount and type you will secure, what date you will close the contract, when you will occupy the property and whether or not there are personal property items (not included with the property) for which you are asking. Inspections need to be specified and can include a general property, pool and/or roof inspections. Your agent/attorney can advise on other terms particular to your offer, which need to be addressed in the offer.

Be sure to take adequate time to thoroughly read through the contract, and ask your agent or attorney to go over the contract with you in detail, answering any questions you might have. You will then sign the purchase offer and receive a copy of all documents, including the offer itself, real estate agency disclosures and any pertinent local disclosures. It is better to have a face-to-face with your agent to write the offer, if possible. However, if time and location prevent a meeting, current accepted real estate practice is to fax copies of the contract to the parties.

Presentation of The Offer

You and your agent have taken a lot of time and care in preparing a fair offer you think has every chance of being accepted. You want your offer to be accepted. Generally, the best opportunity to open a productive dialogue that will result in a successful sale is to have the buyer's agent present the buyer's offer to the sellers, and their listing agent, in person. That way the buyer's agent can be the most effective in the presentation to "sell the sellers" on their buyers, and their ability to qualify and close on the property. The buyer's agent can hopefully meet any objections the seller may have about the offer and offer an explanation as to why the terms are written as they are.

Most frequently, the presentation will take place in one of the agent's office, or possibly at the home of the seller if that is more convenient. Since "time is of the essence" occasionally offers can be negotiated over the phone and contracts faxed for signatures of people are not physically available.

What should be avoided is to either have the offer faxed to the seller or their agent direct without a presentation, or have the offer dropped or mailed to the seller without a presentation. There is a good chance the offer will lose out to competing offers. If the seller is not available, make sure the offer is presented to the listing agent.

With the offer itself, it is recommended a letter pre-approval from a lender be included, particularly in tight markets.

The way in which the offer is written, and the way in which the offer is presented, can have a major impact not only on whether or not you are successful in getting a contract, but on the price and terms to which the seller will agree.