How to Write an Offer on a House

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  • You'll feel much more confident about writing an offer after this Lesson. We also include a checklist of various contingencies that allow you to get out of a deal if needed.


    Decisions When Writing an Offer

    There are different versions of the offer form depending on whether you’re buying new construction, bank owned property, rural property, etc. Ask your Buyer’s Agent which one is right for you.

    Offer Price. You’ll want to consider your offer price carefully.  Learn all the specifics in 3 Ways to Decide How Much to Offer on a Home.

    Loan Type. The type of loan you use can affect the seller’s closing costs & the amount of time needed to close.  See Types of Home Loans:  FHA, VA, USDA… OMG!

    The offer form is also known as a Purchase Agreement, Sale Agreement, Purchase & Sale, or Earnest Money Agreement.

    Deposit. Often called “earnest money” or “good faith deposit,” this deposit is submitted with your offer.  It ranges from 1 to 10% of your offer price and is credited to you at closing.  Your Buyer’s Agent can tell you how much is common in your area.  Learn about deposits and escrow documents in Escrow, Earnest Money & Good Faith Deposits.

    Down Payment. If the seller has more than one offer to consider, they may take into account the size of your down payment.

    Closing Costs & “Prepaids”. You can ask the seller to pay for some of your closing costs, but lenders have limits on how much is allowed. Be sure to find out the limit before writing an offer. See our Lesson Getting the Seller to Pay Closing Costs.

    Contingencies. Anything that can stop the transaction is a contingency. We discuss this in detail in the download  “Contingency Checklist” on this page.

    Limit the number of contingencies in your offer to make it more attractive to a seller.

    Personal Property. Anything that’s not attached to the home is “personal property” and you’ll have to negotiate for it. If you don’t know whether its personal property or not, you need to write it into your offer.

    Closing Date. Ask your Buyer’s Agent & Mortgage Pro what is standard at the time you write the offer – usually 30 to 60 days.  Your closing date is usually 2 days after you sign final escrow documents.  See Final Closing Steps.

    Possession Date. You’ll typically give a seller two days to move out once the home closes because they often need the funds from the sale to close on their next home.

    Offer forms that home builders use are severely slanted to favor the builder- so read carefully before signing!

    The downloads to the right will also be helpful:  “Sample Offer Form” and a “Contingency Checklist.”

    Thinking of buying a home in the Portland, Oregon area? Checkout our First Time Home Buying Classes!

    How to Write an Offer on a House , 3.1 out of 5 based on 9 ratings

    Choose a state from the drop-down menu for specific state information related to this lesson.


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