What Happens After You Make an Offer on a Home?

You have been looking for a home for a while and have finally settled on one you want, so what happens after you make an offer on a home?

Let’s remember that a buyer and seller are looking at the offer from different positions. The buyer wants to get the best deal and the seller, of course, wants to get the most money. So various things can happen. Let’s take a look.

The standard time given for a response from the seller on the California purchase contract is three days. You can shorten this period and would most likely do so if you are in a buyers’ market and/or are making a strong offer. There is not much reason for a seller to delay their response under these scenarios, and you may be able to move the process forward quickly, either by getting an acceptance or receiving a fast counter offer. This is the ideal situation.

In a sellers’ market it is best to allow the full time period, especially if you are offering less than the asking price. A seller is not going to look kindly at being pushed to respond to a less than ideal offer with other potential buyers in the wings. Of course, if there are multiple offers it would not be wise to offer less than asking. You would want to encourage a counter offer which may not happen if the offer is too low. But if you are the only one to make an offer it still is a good idea to give the seller time to think about it.

Sometimes the offer may expire. Maybe the seller was out of town, the listing agent has been unable to get together with them to discuss the offer, or there are other offers pending. This happens often in our market and the counter offer, if and when it comes, will include verbiage extending the original offer. So don’t worry if the expiration date has come and gone. The offer is not dead. However, if the offer is accepted after the expiry date you do not have to move forward if you change your mind. No questions asked. Well there may be questions but you are free to move on without penalty.

How will you know if there are other offers on the same property? You will receive the counter on a multiple counter form which is different from a single counter form. When you see this you will know you are in competition and will need to make your best offer. The seller may counter each buyer differently, depending on their original offer, or it may be the same for all. You will not know. However if you see the term “highest and best” it is likely that all buyers were countered the same and that is self-explanatory.

Can you counter the counter? Yes, but in a multiple counter situation this would not be advisable. You don’t have the luxury of time as another buyer may accept their counter.

Will the counter be on price only? Not necessarily. For example, it could ask for a shorter inspection period, longer or shorter escrow, or deny certain items you asked for. If you are the only buyer you can counter back and improve your offer to counter a price which you are not comfortable with. It is not always about the money for the seller. They want to know that escrow will close and that problems are kept to a minimum.

Work with your Realtor® to present as clean an offer as possible and let the seller see that you are going to be a great buyer. Get the offer accepted and prepare for escrow.

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