How to Prepare for Making an Offer on a House

So you’ve found the perfect house and you’re ready to move forward and make an offer.  The number you put forth is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the entire home-buying process, so before you make that offer, be sure to consider the following:

You might not be the only bidder.  Chances are, especially if you’re in a hot market, or simply on a desirable street in a particular neighborhood, that there will be a competing bid or two on the home.  If that’s the case, before you raise your offer, dig deep and decide what this home means to you.  If this is truly THE house for you, then go ahead and raise your bid if you can afford to.

Consider writing a letter.  While not effective in every situation, sometimes a personal letter to the seller can help make your offer more attractive.  Talk to your real estate agent to find out if the seller has a particularly strong emotional attachment to the home, in which case, a letter describing why the home means so much to you could make a difference.  For some sellers, it may mean a lot to know their home will pass on to someone who will love it as much as they do.

Be prepared for a counteroffer.  If the seller considers your bid too far below the asking price, they may come back with a counteroffer.  Take a deep breath, and keep in mind that the seller can only negotiate with one buyer at a time.  If you can’t afford their counter but are intent on pursuing the house, you can counter offer back.  If not, you may have to be prepared to walk away.

Know the circumstances of the seller.  A good real estate agent will work with the listing agent to determine the particular situation of the seller.  Maybe they’re relocating for a job and need to be out by a certain date.  Or maybe they’ve already bought another home and have a new mortgage looming.  Either situation can mean a quick closing date is slightly more attractive than getting top dollar, so make that part of your offer.

Be sure to discuss the many variables of making an offer with your agent – it’s not always just about price!