Now here’s an opportunity to show what I know! I do now finally have a place under contract but it was a case of third times a charm. I made offers on two other places before I got this one. So I’ve been through the offer process a few times.
A lot of what’s important may be in the negotiation, which is our next section. However, to begin you must make a first offer so:
1.) make sure you want this house before you make an offer. When you make an offer you are signing half of a contract and if they sign the other half, it’s going to take some serious problems with the house or a lot of money to get out of it. This sounds obvious but apparently people get cold feet and decide they want out. You better know before you go in.
2.) “earnest money” is a sort of mini-down payment securing your interest in the house and your commitment to the contract. This is typically around $1000 or up to 1% of the offer. The more money, the more interest it may signify; more earnest money may give you a leg up in a multiple offer situation. You should get this money back at closing.
3.) there are several aspects of the contract you will have to fill-in. When do you want to close? How much damage (during inspection) is “too much” (negates the contract)? Do you have to have an inspection? What pieces or parts of the home do you want as part of your purchase? All these things must be clearly stated and each can be a point of negotiation.
4.) take a good look at everything before you make that offer. Be aware of the flaws and make sure (with your agent) that you’re clear on what needs fixing before you take ownership. These details must be in the contract.
5.) this is the point where other things may come up. Known issues with the place (make sure you see a disclosure statement on the property) such as the existence of lead based paint. But don’t let all this freak you out. Some problems are to be expected. All home built before 1978 have lead-based paint concerns. Don’t panic; read the information, make an informed decision based on all the factors.
That’s the high points of the offer. I’ll only add that, to me, this was the most excruciating part of the process. The offer means you’re interested, really interested, and waiting in agony for a day or more to hear the outcome. Just try to find something to distract you.