A guide to making a real estate offer sellers will love
When you find the home you love, it’s time to submit a strong offer so the seller will accept it quickly and the home will become yours.
It may seem simple: submit the highest-price offer and the seller is sure to choose it over any others that come in. But does it surprise you to find out that sellers sometimes accept lower offers with better terms? That’s because an offer on a home is about more than how much you’re willing to pay.
Your goal should be to craft an offer that gets you the home you want while respecting what the seller wants, too, and making the decision easy for everyone. But how do you do that?
In this article, we’ll go over what goes into a home offer and how to make yours the strongest—without necessarily paying the most.
What is a real estate offer?
A real estate offer is also known as a purchase agreement and will become the binding contract once a seller chooses it. That’s why it’s more than just about money. An offer includes everything from when you’d expect the home to be vacant to how you plan to deal with any contingencies like a bad inspection or tricky financing. Remember: you’re offering more than just money. You’re making a promise to the current owner to give them what they want for the home they’ve been in for years.
Know your future home
Consider all the information about the market when crafting your offer. Recent sales in the neighborhood and an up-to-date understanding of the broader real estate market will give you an idea of what you should put in your offer.
Start with these data
- Days on market. You can see how many days a property has been on the market right in the listing. The longer the time, generally the better for the buyer. Other buyers may question if the property has issues and shy away, leaving room for the seller to be grateful for any offer, even a lower one. Sometimes, investors or developers need to recoup their costs by sticking to a firm price, no matter if it takes longer. In that case, a lower price is less likely to be accepted.
- No other offers. If your offer is the only one on the table, you may be able to get a deal. But keep in mind that every seller is different, so patience and understanding are key. If the seller doesn’t want to sell low, they might not sell at all. If we initially offer low and aren’t accepted, we may be able to resubmit to meet in the middle. The key is to not go so low that we offend the seller and they won’t negotiate with us.
- Recent home sales. If another home on the block was sold recently, that’s be an indicator for what to expect when it comes time to make an offer on the home you want to buy. Was the neighbor’s home sold for over the list price? Was it on the market for a long time? Knowing this will give you insight and will help you build your strategy.
Offer great terms
Think of buying your home from the seller’s point of view. You wouldn’t want to have to re-list your home or be rushed out right after selling. Your offer should provide your seller with confidence and convenience. These are the most powerful terms you can offer in your purchase agreement:
- Certainty. Sellers want to know for sure that the transaction will close. Otherwise, they’ll need to go through the cost and emotions of putting their home back on the market, which will also put a stigma on the property. Making a Flyhomes Cash Offer or Guaranteed Offer is a way to offer certainty.
- A quick close. Shortening the timeline to offer a quick close lets the seller to move on with their lives sooner and helps ensure that the transaction won’t fall through. Cash Offers position you to offer this benefit by removing the seller from the equation before you finalize your financing. Removing contingencies is a strategy to fast track the closing timeline too.
- Rentback. Rentback is when you agree to rent the home to the seller after you take title, so they have time to move out. This is a sign of respect to the seller because it honors that they’re going through a stressful time while selling their home. Time and time again, we’ve seen sellers choose the offer with rentback because they appreciate the flexibility.
- Personal terms. Keep in mind that selling a home is emotional for the sellers, so they’re likely to choose the buyer that makes it the easiest on them. Work with the listing agent to find out what’s important to your particular seller. Often, sellers want to know that you’re financially strong and that you have a personal connection to the home. In some situations, it’s even a good idea to write a personal letter to the seller.
How to make an offer
Now’s the time to start putting all this information together, and putting it on paper. But how do you actually go about writing it? Your real estate agent should take care of the actual drafting, but you’ll have a lot of input. Here’s what you need to do at this stage:
- Know your budget. You’ll already have done most of this work in your financing process. But seeing it written out on paper could be a shock. Having a set maximum—and being certain you can actually afford it—is your number one priority.
- Decide which contingencies to include (and which to leave out). Remember, you can write an offer that allows you to back out of the deal pending an inspection or a hiccup in your financing. There are a lot of contingencies you can include in your offer, but the question is: which ones can you do without? The fewer the contingencies, the stronger the offer.
- Choose how much earnest money to offer. Think of earnest money as a deposit. It’s the money you’re offering to the seller along with the offer that they get to keep if the deal goes through. Usually buyers offer around 1-to -2% of the purchase price. But the more earnest money you offer, the more certain and committed you’ll seem to the seller.
Must-haves in a real estate offer letter
Every offer letter is unique because every seller, buyer, and home is unique. But these are the best practices to know if you’re going to make a good first impression on the seller you’re trying to impress:
- A formal greeting. This is a big transaction that means a lot to both you and the seller. Leave the shorthand for emails. Address the seller by their name and any title associated with them.
- Details. Tell the seller who you are. Any kids? Pets? Are you moving from out-of-state? Selling a home is personal to everyone involved. Let the seller know who you are.
- Go over finances. Take this opportunity to remind the seller if you’ve been pre-approved or, better yet, pre-underwritten for a home loan. Let the seller know how much earnest money you’ll be putting down, too.
- Thank the seller. Yes, this is a transaction. But it’s also emotional and personal. They’ve likely put a lot of work into the home. Thank the seller for their time and consideration.
After you submit the offer
After you submit your offer, get ready to negotiate further on the price and terms with the seller’s listing agent. It’s rare that a seller will provide a counter offer in such a competitive market since they have so many choices. But you never know. Read on to find out what’s going on behind the scenes during that time.
Writing a real estate offer is about more than what you’re willing to pay. You want to make a connection with the seller and reassure them that your offer is the most certain and convenient. There are plenty of ways to strengthen your offer in the way you handle contingencies, financing, and earnest money. This is the opportunity to put your best foot forward and promise the seller that their home and the sale will be in good hands.
How do you make an offer more attractive?
There are a lot of ways to make a real estate offer more attractive to a seller. Waive contingencies, offer more earnest money, or provide certainty through a pre-underwritten loan.
What happens when there are two offers on a home?
This is almost guaranteed to happen in a competitive market. The seller will go over all the offers with their agent to determine which offer fits their needs best. Usually a seller will be able to choose one by the contingencies, earnest money, and financing of the buyer but some buyers need to prepare for a counter offer.
What is a respectable offer on a home?
Make sure that whatever you’re offering is similar to the other offers for similar homes in the area. For example, in some competitive markets, homes are selling for as much as 15% above the asking price. Depending on how much earnest money you’re committing or what contingencies you plan to waive, you could make an offer closer to the asking price.
Do sellers always pick the highest offer?
No, sellers don’t always pick the highest offer. But sellers always pick the best offer. That means, they’ll choose the offer that checks all the other boxes they’re looking for, too. For example, sometimes it’s more important for sellers to choose an offer with a pre-approved mortgage or with no contingencies, even if that offer is slightly less than the others.
Can I make an offer on a home that already has another offer?
Yes, you can make an offer on a home with multiple offers so long as you turn yours in by the offer review date. But if a house has moved to pending, that means the offer review date has passed and the seller has chosen an offer.