You've found the right team. You've found the right home. You're all set to name a price and start moving in furniture, right? Wrong! Making the initial offer is often just the first of several steps before signing the contract.
The best case scenario when you submit your offer is that the seller accepts it with no conditions. However, don't be surprised if a seller responds to you with a counteroffer – which means they're open to begin negotiations.
What can you expect from a counteroffer? Typically, sellers focus on:
- A higher purchase price
- Changes to the closing date
- Who will pay for closing costs or needed repairs
You don't have to agree to all of the seller's terms. In fact, you can submit your own counteroffer, which may address some – but not all – of their concerns. For example, you may decide to pay the higher sales price if the seller will agree to cover the closing costs or throw in the gas grill in the backyard. Your real estate agent should be able to advise you on what makes the most sense for your budget and the local market – including whether you are in a seller's or buyer's market.
You can continue negotiating with the seller until one of you decides to reject or accept an offer. You're only locked in when one of you signs off on a proposal with no more conditions – then you'll be in a legally binding contract. And even more importantly, you'll have a new home!
So what should you remember during the offer process?
- Don't be frustrated if a seller doesn't take your first offer.
- Use the counteroffer to negotiate for what you want.
- Rely on your real estate agent's expertise to guide you through the process.
- Don't be afraid to walk away! If you haven't signed a contract, you always have the option to keep looking.
Want to move beyond the basics? Follow this series just in time for the spring homebuying season.
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