When you've found a special house you want to call home, you'll probably feel excited and a bit nervous. Let your agent know you're ready to write an "offer to purchase," which is a written document that declares how much you will pay for the home, provided that certain conditions are met.
There is really no rule to use in calculating a realistic offer. Naturally, the buyer wants the best value and the seller wants the best price, but negotiations can be influenced by many factors, such as a seller who may be changing jobs and wants to sell quickly, or a buyer who really wants a specific home.
After you've looked at the home's features, asked questions, checked comparable home prices and talked about it with your agent, you should have a good idea of what the home's value is in the current market. Consider what you can afford, and make an offer that you consider to be fair.
It's best to make your offer to the agent without sharing your willingness to offer a higher price if the seller does not accept your offer.
Your offer should have a time limit for the sellers to accept, reject it, or make a counteroffer. If a counter-offer is made, you'll have some time to respond. Often, several offers go back and forth until an offer is accepted, or one party decides to end negotiations.
Because it's a legally binding contract that you will sign and date, it may be a good idea to have a lawyer review it before you sign, or within the grace period noted in the contract. Your agent will help you through this.
During this time, you’ll also begin arranging for an inspection and applying for a mortgage.
When you sign an offer to purchase, your agent will ask you for earnest money—that is, money that shows you are serious about wanting to buy. Usually, you will be asked to write a check for 1% to 10% of the sale price. This money will be held in a special escrow account.
If your offer is accepted, your earnest money will be included as part of your down payment. If your offer is not accepted, you'll get back all your earnest money. But keep in mind that if you back out, you may forfeit the full amount.
Because the legal contracts and other paperwork involved in buying a home are complex, and can be confusing to the general public, many people prefer to work with an attorney. Your attorney will review contracts, make you aware of special considerations and potential problems, and can accompany you to the closing to help make everything go as smoothly as possible. If you don't know a real estate attorney, ask your real estate agent for help. Agents work with many legal professionals every month, and can provide you with the names of several attorneys in the community.
Finally, you’ll also want to get an insurance agent—and the sooner, the better. Most insurance professionals have a lot of experience in working with homeowners, and can offer useful tips about homeownership, particularly regarding home safety and keeping your premiums low. Once you've found a home, work together to develop a homeowner's policy that meets your individual insurance needs. You'll need to bring evidence of a fully paid policy for your mortgage lender when you come to closing. We have professionals to help you with this, too.
Tracking your transactions online
Our HomeBase® transaction management system provides you with a safe, secure, user-friendly communication and documentation platform to keep track of your transaction, from start-to-finish.
This dedicated, secure website stores your transaction-related documents so you can access them at any time, from anywhere.
- Constant visibility into each step of the process transaction
- Environmentally friendly, reduced-paper transaction
- Convenient document retrieval during estate planning, renovations, financial planning or tax season
Your Coldwell Banker affiliated sales associate will help you get set up with a personal HomeBase system account when you’re ready.