Lauren Brooks' Blog
Making an offer on a home you’d love to buy is arguably the most stressful part of the buying process. You’ll be worrying about making the right offer, whether you’ve presented yourself in the best possible light, and just how much competition you’re up against.
Today we’re going to help you alleviate that anxiety by giving you the most common real estate offer mistakes to avoid, and show you how you can increase your chances of getting the perfect home for you.
1. Do your research on the house
You have a lot of research to do before making an offer on a home. You’ll want to know the price the home formerly sold for and improvements that have been made and that will need to be made if you move in.
It also helps to know the seller’s situation. Are they on a deadline and moving out-of-state? If so, they might be tempted to take one of the earlier offers they receive.
2. Know your own financial limits
Before you ever make an offer you’ll need to know how much you can spend. This isn’t just a matter of offering the maximum amount you’re preapproved for. You’ll have to factor in moving expenses, final payments on your last rent or mortgage, changes in utility costs, and more.
3. Don’t offer your full preapproval amount
Sellers who know that you’ve offered your maximum preapproval amount may be wary of selling since they know you lack room to negotiate your budget and therefore might have a higher chance of backing out of the offer. They might favor other buyers who have room to negotiate and account for unexpected changes in their budget or of rising interest rates.
4. Avoid aggressive negotiation
We know the stakes are high for everyone involved in making a real estate deal. However, sellers are more likely to accept the offer of someone they trust and like over someone who seems to be trying to gain leverage.
Always be cordial with your offers and support them with numbers--explain to the seller why you chose the number you did, so that they can understand your reasoning.
5. Don’t attempt to gain leverage by waiving a home inspection
By law, you are allowed to have a home professionally inspected before purchase. Waiving this right is sometimes misconstrued as a way to tell a seller that you trust them and don’t want to cause them any unnecessary headaches.
The reality of the matter is that if you truly do want to own their home, sellers understand that you want to know what you’re buying.
6. This isn’t the only house you can be happy in
Hunting for a home is hard work. Once you find one that seems perfect for you or your family, it can seem like everything depends on your offer being accepted.
However, the fact is there are endless houses on the market, and next week a new one could be put up for sale that is even better than the home you’re hoping for now.
If your offer isn’t accepted and you don’t feel comfortable committing to a higher price, move on to the next house knowing that you made the best decision under the circumstances.
If you add your house to the real estate market but fail to garner buyers' attention, now may be a good time to revamp your home pricing strategy. Otherwise, your home may remain on the housing market for many weeks or months before it finally sells.
Generally, there are several factors you need to consider to determine if you have priced your residence appropriately. These factors include:
1. The Current State of the Housing Market
The demand for houses in your city or town may have far-flung effects on your property selling experience. For example, if there is significant demand for houses in your area, the real estate sector favors sellers. Or, if there is minimal demand for homes in your city or town, the real estate market favors buyers. And if you do not price your house appropriately in a seller's or buyer's market, you may struggle to stir up interest in your home.
It often helps to price your house based on the current state of the real estate market. By doing so, you can establish an initial asking price for your home that falls in line with buyers' expectations.
To assess the current state of the housing market, evaluate the prices of recently sold residences in your city or town. You should find out how long these houses were available before they sold, too. Once you have this housing market data in hand, you can determine whether a seller's or buyer's market is in place and price your house accordingly.
2. Your Home's Age and Condition
The price you originally paid for your home is unlikely to match your house's current value. Fortunately, if you evaluate your residence's age and condition, you may be better equipped than ever before to set a competitive initial asking price for your home.
Sometimes, it helps to conduct a home appraisal before you list a residence. An appraisal enables you to receive a property valuation that accounts for your house's age and condition, along with various real estate market factors. Then, you can use this valuation to determine the optimal initial asking price for your house.
3. Your Home Selling Timeline
If you are in a hurry to sell your home, you should establish an initial asking price that will grab buyers' attention. On the other hand, if you can afford to be patient during the home selling journey, you should not settle for a subpar offer to purchase your house.
When it comes to establishing a home selling timeline and determining how to price your residence, hiring a real estate agent may be beneficial. A real estate agent understands what it takes to sell a home, regardless of the current housing market's conditions. As such, he or she will work with you to ensure you can price your home competitively.
For those who want to streamline the home selling journey, it typically helps to start with a competitive initial asking price for your house. If you consider the aforementioned factors, you can boost the likelihood of pricing your home appropriately from day one of the house selling journey.
Selling a home takes patience. Especially when you’re balancing your time between settling into your new home, and keeping up with your work and family life. So, when you’ve finally gotten to the point of accepting an offer on your home, you’ll probably breathe a sigh of relief--and you should! However, there are still a few more things that will need to happen and a couple of things to consider before closing the deal on your home sale.
Contingencies on the purchase contract
A purchase contract typically includes contingency clauses that are designed to protect the interests of both the buyer and the seller. These clauses mean that the contract is contingent upon the actions being completed before it can be legally valid.
There are three main contingencies that will likely be included in the purchase contract before closing--inspection, financing, and appraisal.
The inspection contingency allows the buyer to have the home inspected by a professional before closing (the time should be specified within the contract, but the inspection should usually occur no more than two weeks after you accept the offer). A home inspection lets the buyer know what to expect in terms of repairs that the home needs now or will need in the near future.
Since the vast majority of buyers will be purchasing their home through a loan, a financing contingency is included to allow the buyer time to secure their mortgage. Getting pre-qualified and pre-approved makes this process easier, but the buyer will still have to finalize and close on their mortgage before their financing is official.
This clause exists to protect the buyer in the event that their mortgage application is denied, ensuring that they aren’t penalized.
The third contingency most often found in purchase contracts is a home appraisal. The buyer will order an appraisal and then the appraiser will reach out to you to find a day to come and value your home.
If the home is then appraised at the amount agreed upon in your contract, this contingency is met. However, if the appraisal comes up lower than the purchase amount, the buyer can renegotiate the price.
Walkthrough and closing
Once the appraisal and inspection have been met and financing secured, the buyer will have a chance to do a final walkthrough of your home. The walkthrough usually occurs no more than two days prior to closing on the sale. A walkthrough allows the buyer view the home one last time to ensure that the condition of the home hasn’t drastically changed since the home was inspected or appraised. So, make sure the buyer is aware of any changes you planned to make to the home before closing.
Now you’re ready to close on your home sale. You’ll receive a disclosure form to review (read it carefully!) and sign. Once closing is complete, ownership of the home is officially transferred to the buyer.
While the closing process does include several steps, it’s important to be available and cooperative along the way to ensure a smooth sale and transition into your new home.
Buying your first home is exciting! And scary! But you don’t have to fear the process if you take the time to become fully prepared for homeownership. Below are the seven primary keys to preparing yourself and smoothing the process.
How to Know You’re Ready
- Determine how much you can afford. The first step to homeownership is figuring out what fits your current budget. Note that although your income may go up over time, buying a home, speculating that you’ll make more money and can afford a bigger payment is a recipe for disaster. In general, you don’t want your housing costs (mortgage payment, insurance, property taxes, HOA) to be more than 25% of your take-home pay.
- Research which mortgages can save you the most money. A conventional loan, with at least 20% for a down payment, lets you avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI). That’s an extra reduction in monthly outgo, so strive to hit that mark. If you can’t afford twenty percent, put at least ten percent down. Less than that means your monthly outflow is higher in both the mortgage payment and the PMI. You’ll also pay more interest over time. You’ll save the most by putting more down and reducing the life of the loan to 15 years or fewer even though your monthly payment is higher. Remember that closing costs and moving take a chunk out of your saved-up cash, too.
- Get pre-approved. Any lender can “pre-qualify” you for a loan, but those aren’t guaranteed. They’re just an estimate based on your self-reported income and assets. Pre-approval takes more effort, but the numbers accurately reflect the size of the mortgage you qualify for and what you can pay for a house. Find a great real estate agent. Once you’ve set your maximum budget and have a pre-qualification letter, your real estate agent can work with those numbers to find you the perfect home. Make sure you choose a qualified buyer’s agent that represents you, not the seller. You also want someone experienced in helping first-time buyers. Typically, the seller covers all the agent’s commissions, so you’re getting their expertise for free!
- Discover the right neighborhood for you. Buying the right house in the wrong neighborhood leads to buyer’s remorse and dissatisfaction. You need to decide what you want in the neighborhood, not just the house. Do you need playgrounds? A school your child can walk to? Other families nearby? Culs-de-sac instead of through-streets? All of these are important to consider before making a decision.
- Lock down the house. When you know where you want to live and find a house there, don’t fudge when making an offer. With the guidance of your agent, submit a solid offer that the seller respects and will consider, but leave room to negotiate. When you receive a counteroffer, consider it carefully and request concessions such as asking the seller to leave the appliances or furnishings. Your offer is legally binding, so you want to take care with what you include.
- Know what to expect once you get the keys. In addition to your monthly payments of principal and interest, property taxes, insurance, and HOA dues, owning a home brings other costs. These include ongoing maintenance, repairs, lawn care and landscaping. If your new home is considerably larger than where you currently live, you’ll also have increased utility costs to factor into the mix.
If you’ve worked your way through the first items on the list and you’re ready to find the right real estate agent, reach out today.