Making an Offer
In the offer, you are:
- saying how much you're willing to pay;
- suggesting a closing date;
- proposing a set of conditions; and,
- stating when the offer expires.
At this time you'll present a deposit, along with your offer. An appropriate deposit will show your good faith to the seller. The seller's agent is bound by law to bring all offers to the seller's attention.
After your offer is accepted and all the conditions are met, the offer becomes binding on both sides. If you walk away from the deal at that point, you may lose your deposit. You may also be sued for damages. Therefore, make sure you understand and agree with all of the terms of the offer before signing.
Most offers carry some kind of conditions, which have to be met before the sale is complete. Some common types of conditions are:
- you getting a suitable mortgage (include the amount, interest rates and any other figures you feel important)
- you selling your current home (the seller may continue to look for a buyer, but will give you the right of first refusal)
- the seller providing a current survey, or a "real property report," showing the location of the house on the property owned by the seller and that there are no encroachments
- the seller having title to the property (your lawyer will check this out when he or she conducts a title search to see if there are any liens on the property, easements, rights of way or height restrictions)
- if there is a septic system, the seller should have a health inspection certificate, stating the system meets local standards
- if you still have any doubts about the home's safety and construction, you may wish to make the purchase conditional on an inspection by a qualified engineer
- any inclusions (we've talked about this earlier -- basically, what stays and what goes)
The seller may counter your offer, by changing the conditions, price or both. Look at the counter offer in terms of what you're looking for in a new home: how does it fit in? And you can, of course, always counter the counter offer.