Negotiating the Purchase

Buyer's Handbook: Negotiating the Purchase

Writing the Offer
When you've selected the house you want to buy, your next step is to submit a signed real estate offer to purchase. Your sales associate will take you through a step-by-step process to make the purchase.

  • You know the seller's asking price, but you need to decide how much you'll offer. Consider factors like the length of time the house has been on the market, reasonableness of the price, availability of financing and other costs.
  • Decide how much earnest money to offer. Determine what happens to this deposit. Usually, it is held by a third party until the sale is closed or the contract is broken. When the sale is closed, it is applied to the downpayment or closing costs. But if you fail to buy the house after the seller has accepted your offer, the seller has the right to keep this earnest money. Decide the type of deed you want. You'll most likely specify that the seller convey the property with a general warranty deed that transfers ownership rights (title) to you.
  • Specify your desired closing date and possession date. Allow yourself enough time to obtain financing.
  • You may want to include a contingency plan for closing and occupancy in case you can't secure possession on the agreed date. This may include provisions such as a daily rent-back agreement for "post-settlement occupancy" by the seller.
  • Decide what items you want to buy with the house. Items often specified in the offer to buy include appliances, light fixtures, chandeliers, window coverings and swing sets.
  • Determine what special provisions should be included for items such as property taxes, hazard insurance and utility bills.
  • Require the seller to conduct a title search to prove the title is clear. The title should show no substantial claims or liens against the property.
  • Determine if you want the seller to provide a homeowner's warranty on the property.

Presenting the Offer
Your sales associate will present the offer to the seller or the seller's agent. The seller will either accept, reject or counter your offer with changes in the terms. You may either sign it as it is showing your agreement, or make a counteroffer.

When both the seller and buyer agree to the terms and sign the document, it becomes a valid contract.