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How to Make an Offer on a House

by Point2 Editorial Staff
8 min. read

After a long search, you’ve finally found the home of your dreams. But, before you can relax, you need to make an offer that the seller won’t be able to resist.

Making an attractive offer is crucial, especially in a hot market. There’s a good chance that you won’t be the only buyer interested in the home, so your offer must stand out from the crowd.

However, it’s just as important to strike the right balance to ensure both parties are happy with the outcome. With that in mind, let’s take a good look at the key steps involved in making an offer on a home before checking out some of our top tips to ensure your offer is accepted.

Making an Offer on a House in 3 Easy Steps

Making an offer on your dream home takes a bit of planning and preparation. In fact, it’s essential to start crafting your offer before you’ve even found the home you want to buy. Fortunately, with a bit of forward thinking, you can create a fantastic offer in just three steps.

1.     Be Prepared and Do Your Research

First, you’ll want to ensure that you’re only looking at homes you can afford. It’s no good finding your dream home only to realize that buying it is either beyond your means or would make you “house poor.” So, create a watertight budget before you even start searching.

With a budget in place, your next step should be to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This shows the seller that you are serious about buying the home and have the means to do so. Without being pre-approved, you’ll need to delay your offer while you secure financing.

Finally, research the local market when you’ve found the home you want to buy. Check out comparable properties to make sure that the sale price is fair or whether there’s a little wiggle room to negotiate.

home buyer and seller shaking hands

Image: David Gyung / Shutterstock.com

2.     Make Your Offer

With the preparation and research complete, you can confidently make your offer. However, bear in mind that your offer is a legally binding contract, and once you’ve made it, you can’t easily back out if it’s accepted. So, take your time and ask your real estate agent for advice.

The most common way to make an offer is in writing using a standard purchase agreement. You can easily find templates online, or your real estate agent can supply one.

As you fill out the form, it’s essential to be as specific as possible regarding your offer terms and leave no room for confusion. You’ll typically need to provide the following information:

  • Buyer and seller information: name and address
  • Full property address
  • Purchase price: how much you’re willing to pay for the home—not necessarily the list price
  • Earnest money deposit: a small, lump sum of cash from the buyer to the seller that is usually put in escrow
  • Type of financing: mortgage, cash, etc.
  • Contingencies

When you make an offer, it’s important to add specific conditions that must be met before the sale can proceed. For example, it’s common for real estate offers to be contingent on the results of the home inspection and appraisal, as well as whether the buyer is able to secure financing or not. These conditions offer protection and enable you to back out of the deal if not met.

Since each transaction is unique, be sure to speak with a real estate professional about other conditions you could add to your offer.

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3.     Negotiating and Counteroffering

If all goes well, the seller will accept your offer outright. However, it’s much more common for them to negotiate and send a counteroffer. This is an important step, and it’s good to be flexible here. After all, if both parties are happy with the offer, the sale will likely go smoothly. In general, be flexible in areas you can be, but stay firm on the terms that are most important to you.

If, after the home inspection, repairs need to be carried out, negotiations can continue. As a buyer, you have several choices depending on the extent of the damage. You can either insist that the seller has everything repaired before the sale can proceed or have them lower the price. Alternatively, you could also walk away from the sale at this point, provided your offer was contingent on the inspection results.

Once again, a good real estate agent or lawyer can assist with the negotiations. Then, when all parties are happy with the offer, and all conditions have been met, you can close the deal.

Top Tips to Make Your Offer as Attractive as Possible

Knowing how to make an offer is the first step, but there are several ways to ensure your offer stands out. The following tips will put you ahead of the competition, especially in a hot market, and give you a great chance of sealing the deal.

1.     Be Flexible

The more flexible you can be, the more appealing your offer will be to the seller. This is especially true for closing dates. In some cases, the seller would prefer a specific date, sometimes as soon as possible, other times a month or so down the line. If you can accommodate their preference, you’ll be in a strong position to negotiate.

If they want to close as soon as possible but need more time before they can move out, you can be generous and offer them a month’s rent-free accommodation.

document being signed

Image: Watchara Ritjan / Shutterstock.com

2.     Make Multiple Offers

You’re not limited to just one offer per property, so why not increase your chances by making two or three offers? This is great for the seller, as it allows them to pick and choose what they’re most comfortable with. It’s also good for you, as you get to set the terms each time. By giving the seller choice, you let them feel they’re in control, making your offers more attractive than the competition.

3.     Go Easy on the Clauses

While adding basic contingencies is an excellent way to protect yourself, try to avoid packing your offer with them. The fewer conditions an offer has, the more appealing it is for the seller. Stick to the essentials—home inspection, financing, etc.—and speak to your agent for solid advice.

4.     Let the Seller Name Their Price

If your agent has found a home that hasn’t been listed yet, don’t make an offer immediately. Instead, reach out and let them name their price. There’s a good chance that you and the seller have vastly different ideas about how much the home is worth, so hold back and let them lead. Otherwise, you risk going in either too high or insultingly low.

5.     Personalize Your Offer With a House Offer Letter

Remember that the seller is a person too, so why not add a personal touch to your offer? For example, a house offer letter outlines your offer but adds a heartfelt message to the seller about why you love their house and why it’d be a great fit for you and your family. It’s an easy, no-cost way to stand out from the crowd, and you might just tug at the seller’s heartstrings!

6.     Sweeten the Deal

A few little sweeteners can go a long way when making an offer. If possible, offer a larger earnest money deposit rather than the 1% to 2% that is more common. Alternatively, you can reduce the due diligence period. Buyers can back out of their offer during this time, so if you’re happy to reduce it, it can put the seller at ease.

For an overview of the real estate market in popular cities across Canada and the U.S., visit the links below:

Homes for sale in Toronto
Homes for sale in Edmonton
Homes for sale in Brampton
Homes for sale in Halifax
Homes for sale in Calgary
Homes for sale in Winnipeg
Homes for sale in Hamilton
Homes for sale in London
Homes for sale in Victoria
Homes for sale in Surrey
Homes for sale in Markham
Homes for sale in Kelowna
Homes for sale in Kitchener
Homes for sale in Saint John
Homes for sale in Moncton

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