Making and negotiating your offer
You’ve found the right home — one you love and one that fits your budget. Now you need to make an offer on it.
You’ll make your offer based on the condition of the home, the price of similar homes in the area and the local real estate market. Typically, there is some negotiation, so be prepared for a little give and take on the final price.
You won’t have to do it alone—your real estate agent will be your ally and help you negotiate with the seller to set a fair price for the home.
It's important to know how to handle home-buying negotiations so that both you and the seller walk away satisfied.
There are many factors to consider when deciding how much to offer to the seller.
Learn why buyer and seller concessions are an important part of the home buying transaction.
There are ways to make sure your offer is competitive and more acceptable to sellers before you get outbid on a home.
Home warranties and homeowners’ insurance are both designed to protect the buyer, but the policies are different.
How much home can you afford?
Take the first step and get prequalified.
Making an offer on the house
Your offer tells the seller what you’re willing or able to pay for the home. Before you do that, you should:
- Find out how much the seller paid.
- Look at comparable sales in the area.
- Review how many days the house has been on the market (the seller may be more willing to negotiate if it’s been a while).
- Determine the market — if you're making an offer in a buyer's market, you may be able to negotiate with a seller because there are fewer buyers.
When you write your offer, make sure you consider these items:
- State what you're willing to pay. The seller may receive multiple offers, so submit your very best offer.
- Tell the seller if you’re prequalified or conditionally approved for a mortgage loan. Send a copy of your approval letter with your offer.
- Outline any conditions you want to add, such as an approved home inspection.
- Stress how long the offer will stand (usually two or three days).
- Send earnest money. The higher the amount, the more seriously the seller will take your offer.
- Include a handwritten letter, if you want, explaining why you love the house and describe yourself briefly to appeal to the seller's emotional connection.
- Consider, with your agent's advice, any concessions you might make, such as waiving contingencies.
Negotiating the price
Once you make your offer, the seller may come back with a counteroffer. Your real estate agent can help you decide whether you should accept that offer, or if you want to make a new one. Keep in mind that negotiations can continue as you learn more about the home. For example, the home inspection may reveal water damage or a faulty heating system. In that case, you can lower your asking price, or require that the issue be repaired.
You can also negotiate who will pay all or some of the closing costs, a termite extermination if deemed necessary by the home inspector, and the home warranty.
Hopefully, you and the seller will reach an agreement on the price. If you make an offer that's accepted, it becomes a binding contract.
Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Remember, it can be in your best interest to walk away, especially if a seller asks for more than your maximum price point or if major structural damage is found.
In that case, have some other homes in mind as alternatives if your first choice doesn't work out.