Are you shopping for homes for sale? This can be a heady and exciting time for prospective buyers — attending open houses, meeting with prospective sellers, admiring all the homes for sale in your desired location.

At some point, you hopefully will narrow your search down to one or two properties. But before you rush in to make an offer, the following tips may be useful so that you get the best deal possible.

  1. Run the Numbers. Again.

Some home purchases entail much more than a down payment and a monthly mortgage note. Carefully review any associated costs like HOA fees and maintenance costs. What about annual insurance costs and property taxes? Can you still afford the property?

  1. Is Your Offer Even in the Ballpark?

The best way to tell whether your offer is appropriate is to review comps, those comparably-priced houses for sale near the home you seek to purchase. Your real estate agent will run comps for you to make sure that your offer is reasonable.

  1. Allow Yourself Some Wiggle Room

Are you flexible on closing dates, or are you in a crunch situation? If it’s a sellers’ market, you may have to be willing to accommodate the seller on timelines or other contingencies.

Remember that if other prospective buyers are submitting offers, you want to have the winning bid without paying more than the property is worth. Being willing to wait until the present owners have found another house could put you in the driver’s seat on your home purchase. 

  1. Be Willing to Cough Up Some Earnest Money

This can be what separates the vacillators from those who are serious about purchasing the home. Being willing to offer an earnest money deposit (EMD) of 1% to 3% of the total sales price shows that you are walking the walk and not just talking.

If the purchase goes through, your money converts from escrow to part of your down payment when you close the deal. Should the deal fall through on your end, though, that cash can be forfeited to the seller.

  1. Understand the Counteroffer

Negotiations are all part of the homes for sale game, so be prepared to get a counteroffer from the seller. As Boston’s Coleman Group frequently says, “It’s completely normal to have back-and-forth negotiations between buyer and seller when the market is less competitive.”

Once the counteroffer terms have been hashed out, the offer will be resubmitted formally as an agreement.

Are You Ready to Take the Plunge?

Once you are sure that all your financial and legal ducks are in line, it is time to make the offer. Your real estate agent will walk you through all the steps to make sure that everything is in order, from your paperwork to your financials and the home inspection.

Whenever you have a question about the homes for sale, run it by your agent. If you have any doubts, now is the time to raise them. Let your agent make the purchase of your new home as seamless and painless as possible for you and your family.

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