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How To Make A Winning Offer Without Going Overboard

This step-by-step series will take you through the entire home-buying process — from finding a buyer’s agent to settlement day, and all the details in between. Every first-time buyer will find this information-packed series easy to follow and understand. Make sure to tune in for the next few weeks!



You’ve done it … you found the home you want to buy! Now you’re ready to make an offer and tackle some of the next steps that will make you a homeowner.


First, it’s time to determine your offer price and the amount of your earnest money deposit to show you’re a serious buyer. You’ll need liquid funds for this deposit, so make sure you’re ready to write a check with your offer.


You also need to get prepared for some negotiation tactics. DO NOT forget about your deal breakers and the maximum amount you’d be willing to offer for a home. (Remember, you have a “monthly” budget in mind!)


Here are some smart tips on getting a home for a price you’re happy with in the end:

Step 1 – Evaluate the home and determine an offer price.

  • We’ll work together by looking at the comps to see what the current value of the home is based on what’s sold most recently. From there, we’ll discuss a number of other factors, such as how long the home as been on the market, what the market is doing in general and what information I have from the seller’s agent about how many offers they are expecting.

  • Don’t just go with the asking price. A home’s asking price might be too high or too low, so we’ll do our own research to see what price makes most sense based on recent sales of similar homes.

  • Use comps of homes similar to yours in the neighborhood or building. We’ll calculate the difference between the asking prices and final sale prices to get a feel for market conditions. Also look at those final sales prices to get an average of the current market price for your type of home.

  • Closely compare the features of your home to the others that recently sold. We’ll determine if your home has any valued-added features that might make the price go up OR if it lacks something that would bring the price down.

  • Consider ALL variables. We’ll look into whether this home sat on the market for a while or has it just been listed and may sell quickly? Is it more of a buyers’ market or sellers’ in this particular neighborhood and for this type of property? It’s not always the same answer across the board for every home.

  • Find out about competing bids since these will affect your own offer. I’m in communication with the seller’s agent to find out whether there will be multiple offers coming in, and based on that, then going above the asking price is most likely required.

  • Determine your walk-away price and stick to it. We’ll make a clear decision about what price you feel comfortable paying in a way that a will have you happy with the outcome of the seller’s decision, whether you win or lose. I won’t let you get swayed to go over budget … I have a no regrets policy!

Step 2 -- Make an offer and be willing to negotiate.

  • Keep your offer simple with little stipulations if possible. This makes it easier for the seller to accept your offer and can help seal the deal quickly. We’ll find the perfect balance between given the sellers what they want and protecting you and not having you give too much away.

  • On the other hand, be flexible when taking into account any stipulations by the seller. If you can accommodate the seller, do so if possible. For example, they may want to rent back from you for a month until they can move out of the home.

  • Be cordial and not critical of the home. Sellers can be sentimental and may select buyers for more personal reasons than just price. Use that to your advantage!

  • Make your offer contingent upon the findings of a professional home inspection. You’ll want to be able to renegotiate or back out if major defects are found. NEVER skip this step! If we are going to be a multiple offer situation, I may suggest that you consider a pre-inspection, which allows for you to know the condition of the home without making it contingent on the inspection.

Step 3 -- Show you are a serious buyer.

  • Include your approval letter and put up a reasonable amount for your earnest money deposit. You want to show the sellers you are serious and are capable financially to buy this home, that means at the very least having an approval letter from a reputable lender who has already checked your documents and run your credit.

  • Your earnest deposit should send an encouraging signal to the sellers. Depending on the situation, you’ll need to do a deposit of 1% to 5%. These funds are deposited at the time there is an agreement and makes sure that what each parties says they are going to do happens. The amount of your deposit will show the sellers you really want this home and are making a serious offer.

  • Make your BEST offer based on that particular home’s situation. Offers should vary on the circumstances:

    • If the home just came on the market and already has multiple offers, you may need to go higher in price and/or have fewer contingencies. A seller is going to choose the best offer first and start negotiating with that offer, or pick one from the options and not negotiate at all. So, give it your best shot right out of the gate in these circumstances if you find yourself in this situation.

    • If the home has been on the market for a time, you’ll need to write a completely different offer — one that is more favorable to you versus the seller. Always back up such offers with comparables to support a lower price.

These are the same types of strategies we’ll use whenever you get to this step. I’m sharing this with you now just so you can become more knowledgeable and confident whenever that time comes. When you are ready to start talking about buying a home, just email me and I’ll take it from there, but always on your timeline, not mine. And, when it comes to the offer writing step, just know that the goal is to get you the home you want without going overboard. That is possible, even now. It takes a specific strategy that I’m looking forward to sharing with you.


In the meantime, keep reading this 14-part Love Buying a Home series. You’ll learn what you need to do once you’re under contract to buy a home in Under Contract: Locking in Your Mortgage Rate and Getting a Home Appraisal. These two very important steps can affect your sale and the interest rate of your loan. Stay tuned!


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