Modern house with garage.

Ready To Make An Offer On A House? Here’s What To Do

6-minute read

You’ve found the perfect home in the ideal neighborhood. Now what?

We’ll walk you through how you can make an offer on a property you want to buy. We’ll cover a checklist of items you should do before you make an offer as well as the steps you’ll take to make sure your offer is valid.

Making An Offer On A House: What You Need To Know

You tell the seller that you want to buy when you put in an offer on a home via a written document called an “offer letter.” You can write your offer letter yourself or you can ask your real estate agent to draft one up for you. Your letter must include more than just the price of the home; you should at least also include concessions, a set date that they must respond by and your contact information.

Once you finish your letter, you’ll submit it to the seller for approval. The seller can accept your offer, reject it or give you a counteroffer. You must decide what to do from there: You can negotiate the price or you can walk away from the sale. Your real estate agent will assist you in the negotiation process and help you decide how much to offer each time.

And once you reach an agreement with the seller? Congratulations! You’re ready to start the mortgage process.

Putting an offer in for a home is a serious decision. You can’t easily back out once the seller accepts your offer. Buyers put a small amount of money down as a way of telling the seller they’re serious about buying the home.

This money is an earnest money deposit. You submit an earnest money deposit to the seller’s agent who holds it in a neutral account until the sale date. Your earnest money deposit will usually be 1% – 2% of the total home price. This money goes toward your down payment at closing. You lose your earnest money deposit if you back out of a sale after a seller accepts your offer. You should never make an offer on a home unless you know you’re committed to buying it.

Things To Do Before You Make An Offer On A House

Making an offer isn’t the first step of buying a home. Do a little research on your home’s area before you submit an offer.

Meet The Neighbors

The property isn’t the only thing you need to consider when you decide to buy a home; you should also know who’s living next door. Living next to someone you don’t see eye-to-eye with can seriously impact your quality of life.

Take a day to visit your potential new neighbors and introduce yourself. They may be able to tell you things about your neighborhood or property that your real estate agent may not even know.

Tour The Neighborhood

Spend some time getting to know your new area before you commit to a home purchase. Visit your neighborhood at different times and take a walk or drive around the area. This will give you a good idea of how much traffic is in the area, the amenities close to your home and the type of parking available. You’ll want to visit the area during important times of the day. Drive through at times when you usually leave for work or pick your children up from school.

Do A Little Research

Homeowners must follow each individual city’s own set of rules and laws. Take some time to read up on local city ordinances and see if there’s anything that might cause an annoyance for you and your lifestyle. For example, city ordinances may ban things like fire pits and certain breeds of dogs.

Take A Solo Walk Through The Home

It’s a good idea to take one last walk through the property without your real estate agent there, even if you’re 100% sure you’re committed to a property. You may spot some things that you missed in the hustle and bustle of a guided tour.

How To Put An Offer On A House

Next, it’s time to put in an offer for your new home.

Decide How Much To Offer

The first step in making an offer on a home is to decide how much money you’re willing to pay for the property. It’s important to stay inside your budget, but you shouldn’t just throw a number out there at random. Here are some things to consider before you choose a final price:

How much time the home has been on the market: It’s possible that the seller might be more motivated to move if the home has been on the market for more than 2 or 3 months. You may want to consider offering a lower price if you’re looking at a property that’s been on sale for a while.

Comparable homes in the area: Spend some time on a real estate data website and see which properties are for sale in your area. Is your home’s asking price higher than other homes on the market with similar amenities? This is another instance where you may want to consider offering less money.

Necessary repairs and renovations: Does your property need a lot of repairs? Keep the cost of these repairs in mind when you consider your total overall budget. You may also want to ask the seller to make the repairs for you when you submit an offer.

Have no idea where to begin on your checklist? Talk to your real estate agent, as they’re experts in the local market climate. They can let you know what type of offer you should submit.

Write An Offer Letter

Next, write an offer letter to the seller. The offer letter tells the seller how much you’d like to offer to buy the home, when you want to buy it and any concession you need for the sale to go through.

Your real estate agent will probably write your letter for you. If you choose to write your letter on your own or if you don’t have a real estate agent, make sure you include the following information:

  • The address of the home you want to buy
  • Your name and the name of anyone else who will be on the title with you, like a spouse
  • The amount of money you want to offer for the home
  • Any contingencies the home needs to meet before the sale goes through, such as a successful inspection
  • Any concessions you’re asking from the seller like closing cost coverage or repairs
  • Items you want included in the sale such as window treatments or lighting fixtures
  • The amount of your earnest money deposit
  • Your mortgage preapproval letter so the seller knows you can fund the purchase
  • The date you expect to close on your loan
  • The date you want to move into the home
  • The deadline to respond to your offer

Your real estate agent will finalize the letter and submit it to the seller or the seller’s agent. From here, all you can do is wait for a response from the seller.

Negotiate The Price Of Your Home

Did the seller accept your offer? If yes, you’re ready to move forward with your mortgage lender. If your seller rejects your offer or submits a counteroffer, it’s up to you to decide what you want to do from there. Your real estate agent can get in contact with the seller or their agent to get a feel for what the seller hopes to get from their home and where they’re willing to meet a buyer.

Remember that you can negotiate more than just the purchase price of your home. You may be willing to trade concession or repair requests for a lower purchase price. Work with your real estate agent and the seller to see if you can reach an agreement for the home.

Negotiating a home purchase can be stressful. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a property sale if you can’t reach an agreement with the seller.

Summary

You should tell the seller that you’re serious about buying a home when you make an offer on it. You should never make an offer on a home unless you’re sure you want to buy it. You’ll include an earnest money deposit that’s equal to a small percentage of the home’s value. You’ll lose your earnest money deposit if you back out of the sale after reaching an agreement with the seller. This is why it’s important to do your research before you submit your offer.

Get to know the neighborhood your new home is in to make sure you’re ready to commit to the area. Talk to the neighbors and walk around the area to get a feel for the traffic and local amenities. You should also take an independent walk through the home before you submit an offer.

Work with your real estate agent to determine how much you want to pay for the property. Your agent will help you draw up an offer letter and submit it to the seller. From there, the seller can accept your offer, reject it or make a counteroffer. Don’t be afraid to work with your agent to negotiate both the price of the property and the sale’s terms.

Get approved to buy a home.

Rocket Mortgage® lets you get to house hunting sooner.

I'm Just Researching

Answer a few questions and learn what you can afford - no credit pull required.

Begin Researching Numbers