How to Put an Offer On a House: A Step-By-Step Guide

By 

Thomas O'Shaughnessy

Updated 

April 11th, 2019

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You’ve spent years saving up a down payment and devoted months to house hunting. By the time you find the right house, the only thing left to do is to submit an appropriate offer. If this situation sounds familiar, read on for a step-by-step guide to putting a formal offer on a house.

Submitting an offer on a house is the first stage of the process that can turn you into a homeowner. However, putting an offer on a house is not just about how much you’re willing to pay, it’s also a contractual communication that will inform the seller’s decision when deciding between competing buyers. This means your offer will need to be professionally structured and inclusive of the following details:

  • The buyer’s offered purchase price.
  • Buyer proof of funds.
  • Expiration date of the offer and conditional closing date.
  • Any additional costs and preliminary contingencies.
  • The buyer’s expectations from the seller.

With so many different steps to keep track of, submitting a house offer can turn into a time-consuming and frustrating process — especially for inexperienced or first-time buyers. Fortunately, buyers can forestall potential roadblocks and streamline the offer process by both partnering with an experienced real estate agent and studying the information presented in this step-by-step guide.

Breaking Down the Written Offer

Timing Offer Submission

For buyers purchasing in a seller’s market, moving quickly to submit an offer can be the difference between securing and losing your dream home. If you are in the process of inspecting multiple homes, your buyer’s agent can contact the listing agents for homes on your purchase shortlist. As long as each listing agent is receptive, your buyer’s agent will be able to tell you how many offers have already been placed on properties you have an active interest in.

Starting Price

The offered purchase price is the first thing a seller will look at when evaluating your written offer. Therefore, accurately setting your starting price is a major consideration if you want to avoid having your offer immediately discarded by sellers. Here’s what you need to factor in when deciding on a competitive starting price offer:

  • What can you feasibly afford without compromising your financial security?
  • What is the condition and listing price of the home in question?
  • Is the home appropriately valued in comparison to similar properties in the local market?
  • What are the current market conditions and local sale figures?
  • What is the property’s proximity to your workplace, schools, shopping centers, or local entertainment hubs?
  • Does the home require extensive renovations or repairs?

While you can and should do your own research when answering these questions, don’t forget to take advantage of your real estate agent’s expertise and experience in the local market.

House Offer Letter

If you want to make your written offer stand out, consider attaching a persuasive house offer letter. This is a short, personal letter that articulates your appreciation of the seller’s home and your commitment to purchasing it. Remember, a house offer letter is not recommended for every seller — it’s up to you to decide when a personal appeal is an appropriate approach.

Contingency Period

After you submit your offer, the seller will either accept, decline, or counter with an alternative proposal. If your offer is accepted, both parties are required to sign a purchase agreement. The purchase agreement further expands on the framework laid out in the initial written offer and pushes both buyer and seller into the contingency period. The purchase agreement is a legally binding document and must include the following pieces of information:

  • Full legal address of the property in question.
  • The amount of money in escrow (also known as the earnest money deposit).
  • Agreed upon purchase price.
  • Breakdown of closing costs.

During the contingency period, the buyer and seller will set contingencies on the sale, conduct home appraisals and inspections, inform either party of any disclosures, and pursue additional negotiation terms.

Stay Positive

Remember, most prospective homeowners will have their offer rejected at some point in time. If this happens to you, try not to be discouraged and don’t let one rejection stop you from putting offers on other competitive homes.

Still Confused? Contact a Local Real Estate Agent!

If you’re ready to put an offer on a house and still aren’t sure how to get started, consider connecting with an experienced real estate agent. A good agent will provide full-service support and assistance throughout the entire purchase process, from house hunting and offer submission all the way to closing negotiations. If you are vying for a property in a competitive market, get in touch with a Clever Partner Agent to schedule a fast-tracked on-demand showing. Buyers who purchase their home through Clever Real Estate are also eligible for a $1,000 buyer rebate to cover closing costs.

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