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You've found the property. What now?

How do I make an offer?

Your real estate agent or lawyer will assist you in making an offer, which will include the following information:

  • Complete legal description of the property
  • Details of the chattels/furniture being sold
  • Amount of earnest money or deposit
  • Purchase price which you are offering
  • Proposed closing or settlement date
  • Length of time the offer is valid
  • Special conditions of the deal such as title approval, finance, a home inspector's report, valuation, compliance of the property with all relevant town planning requirements, or sale of existing home.

These matters need to be incorporated into a formal offer document. The wording of the special conditions is often very important.

The vendor has a right to know that the prospective buyer is in earnest, and for the protection of both parties the agreement should stipulate precisely the type of finance regarded as "suitable" by the purchaser, such as a bank loan, together with details of the amount of finance required.

Remember that a sale commitment depends on negotiating a satisfactory contract with the seller, not just making an offer.

Do you want to get the best house you can for the least amount of money?

Then make sure you are in the best negotiating position possible.

Price is only one bargaining chip in the negotiations, and not necessarily the most important one.

Often other matters, such as the strength of the buyer or the length of the conditional period, are critical to a seller. The way to make a offer today is to get "pre approved" by a lender. This happens after all your information has been checked and verified. You are actually approved for the loan, the only loose end is the appraisal or valuation of the property you want to buy. This process takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on your situation.

When I find the property I want, how much should I offer?

If you are using a real estate agent then unless you have a buyer's agent, remember that the agent works for the seller.

Make a point of asking him or her to keep your discussions and information confidential. Listen to your real estate agent's advice, but follow your own instincts on deciding a fair price.

Calculating your offer should involve several factors:

1. Is the asking price in line with prices of similar homes in the area?

2. Is the home in good condition or will you have to spend a substantial amount of money making it the way you want it? You probably want to get a professional home inspection before you make your offer. Your real estate broker can help you arrange one.

3. How long has the home been on the market? If it's been for sale for awhile, the seller may be more eager to accept a lower offer.

4. How much mortgage will be required? Make sure you really can afford whatever offer you make.

5. How much do you really want the home? The closer you are to the asking price, the more likely your offer will be accepted. In some cases, you may even want to offer more than the asking price, if you know you are competing with others for the house.

By the time you're ready to make an offer, you should have a good idea of what the home is worth and what you can afford. And, be prepared for give-and-take negotiation, which is very common when buying a home.

What if my offer is rejected?

They often are.

But don't let that stop you. Now you begin negotiating. You may have to offer more money, but you may ask the seller to cover some or all of your closing costs or to make repairs that wouldn't normally be expected.

Often, negotiations on a price go back and forth several times before a deal is made. Just remember - don't get so caught up in negotiations that you lose sight of what you really want and can afford!

Do I need a lawyer or attorney to buy a home?

You should hire a lawyer to help with the complex paperwork and legal contracts. A lawyer can review contracts, make you aware of special considerations, and assist you with the closing process.

Your real estate agent may be able to recommend a lawyer. If not, shop around. Find out what services are provided for what fee, and whether the attorney is experienced at representing homebuyers.


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