Making offers in any market: A homebuyer's guide

by Donna Sikora 11/30/2023

While buying a home might seem as simple as paying the asking price, knowing the ins and outs of making offers is crucial to buyer success. Everything from the terms of your mortgage loan to eventual closing costs can affect the amount you spend on your home, and making the right offer can significantly affect your chances in a competitive market.

Here are some of the basics of making an offer on a house:

Find the right home for you

Start by searching online listings for properties to view, or book a tour with an agent. The more knowledgeable you can be about the property, its location and history, the more informed your offer will be. And don't forget, your real estate agent can use their expertise to guide you every step of the way.

Write your initial offer

When it's time to make your first offer, consult your real estate agent for help choosing a starting price. Consider your own budget as well as the local market, home condition and seller situation.

Decide your earnest money offer

An earnest money deposit is an upfront amount of money included with your initial offer on a house. It's used as a sign of good faith, and also a form of insurance for the seller in case you back out of the sale. 

Typically, the expected amount for this deposit is between 1% and 3% of the home's purchase price. However, if you're in a highly competitive market, it can benefit you to offer up to 10%.

Consider your contingencies

A contingency is a provision in your offer which protects your interests in case the unexpected happens between your offer on a house and closing. This allows you to withdraw your deposit under agreed upon circumstances.

One standard contingency example is a home inspection contingency, which allows you to back out of the sale without loss if the inspection uncovers any major problems with the property.

Real estate agents can help you decide what contingencies could work best in your favor. Depending on whether you're in a seller's market or a buyer's market, some strategies might work better than others.

About the Author
Author

Donna Sikora

Donna Sikora personifies the time-honored adage that wisdom comes from experience. In the real estate business, Donna has drawn from her wisdom from more than 25 + years in the business to assist everyone from young first -time homebuyers to those moving up to abodes of grandeur. She is licensed Realtor in Pennsylvania and Ohio and has received several certifications including a certified recruiter and mentor.