Can You Sell a House and Buy Another at the Same Time? We Explore Your Options

When you are in the process of moving, the process of buying your new home and selling your old one usually involves choosing which one comes first—to buy or to sell. Selling your old home first is often a more sensible option, as this ensures you have the needed down payment to cover your new property. But if you sell and don’t have a new home waiting for you, you might end up scrambling for a place to stay and someplace to store your belongings. For a family with kids or with pets, that can be especially inconvenient.

Buying before selling is an alternative, but when market demand is low and you can’t sell your old home quickly, you might end up with a lot more obligations than you can handle. You now have two homes to maintain and two mortgages to pay. If you’re on a tight budget, this could put you in hot water. 

What if you decide to buy and sell at the same time? This strategy can work well if you have reserves or some investments to sell to come up with the needed amounts to buy your new home if that occurs before your sell your old one. But if you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of extra cash to spare, you need to develop some ideas to push through. 

Selling and buying simultaneously will require some ingenuity on your part as this strategy calls for thoughtful planning to time your sales and purchases. While you may not control the entire housing market, there are steps you can take to make sure you pull off both transactions. 

We’ll fill you in on some of the options to make sure you succeed in selling your current property and seal the deal to your new home at the same time. We’ll also cover some contingencies just in case you encounter a gap between selling and buying so that you won’t end up homeless at the very least.  

Options for Buying and Selling at the Same Time 

As mentioned, there are several options you can explore when you plan to buy and sell at the same time. These alternatives can help you manage not only the buying-while-selling process, but it can also keep your stress levels at a minimum.

#1 Find a Cash Buyer for Your Home 

Selling your house requires exact timing and demand from the market. Some markets, like the Florida housing market, are quite in demand right now, but others may not be, so plan out your timeline accordingly and take that extra time you may need to sell into account. You can sell your house fast in areas with high demand if you partner with an instant home buyer or a real estate investment company that offers to pay in cash rather than waiting for buyers to have their mortgages approved. 

This way, selling your house gives you the needed resources to fund your next move when you’ve already closed the deal. If ever you’re still looking, accessible funds ensure you can find temporary arrangements until you’re ready to find a new home.

#2 Talk to a Lender 

In case market demands are low and you can’t sell your house quickly, you would need to consider if owning two homes are feasible for your budget. While cash reserves can get you as far as a few months of the double mortgage, you may need to sell a few of your assets to maintain both properties. 

If you find your savings or income insufficient, you can consider talking to a lender to generate some funding. They can provide you with several loan offers that use your home’s equity as a down payment for your purchase. 

One of them is a bridging loan, short-term financing that can work great when you’ve already chosen your new property and acquiring it is in the works. You can even add a contingency clause that your purchase will only go through if your bridging loan gets approved so you can walk away without any additional obligations.

Another option is to take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) that gives you greater flexibility to repay only the amount you use for buying your home. A HELOC uses your home’s equity as a basis to issue amounts you can use based on agreed terms that will help you get by until you sell your former home.

However, while these loans can give you access to immediate funds, they often come with considerable interests and lengths. It would be best to give it some careful thought before you take out any of these loans

#3 Make Attractive Offers 

Part of a successful strategy is to make attractive offers for the home that you want and the one you’re selling. Contingency offers help secure your intentions without you having to pay for unnecessary obligations. You can include a condition for the upcoming purchase if your current house sells. This can work to your advantage when you’re in a buyer’s market. It can also work if there is less demand for the home you desire. 

While having a contingency clause may at times weaken your offer, you counter this by offering a higher bid so the seller can wait until you’ve sold your house. You can even add in non-refundable earnest money to win the deal on your next dream home. 

#4 Make Gaps Work to Your Advantage

Sometimes circumstances do not work as planned, but don’t get disheartened. These are just momentary setbacks that may even give you time to improve your current home and increase its current market value. 

If you find yourself in your new home and stressing how to manage the former, you can consider renting it out to cover maintenance and mortgage costs. You can use Airbnb and other similar platforms to gain additional income from your property while the market is on a low. Once the conditions are right, you can sell your house for the price you want. 

If you take out a home equity loan, you can use it to renovate your old home and increase your home value. Some key features to spend on that have high ROIs include enhancing your curb appeal, taking care of house repairs early on, and updating your kitchen to give it a modern look. Spending considerable time and effort on your former property will surely enhance its chances of getting sold in the coming days. 

Conclusion 

Selling and buying are some of the less-traveled paths for homeowners because of their inherent risks. Taking on two mortgages when you do not have sufficient funds can be too much to handle, and taking out loans can add stress. 

You can make this strategy work to your advantage if you find the right tools to help you pull off both transactions simultaneously. Partnering with an instant house buyer can give you cash for your next purchase, while loans can provide you enough leeway to facilitate your move. Adding contingency offers allows you to address gaps as they happen without having to take on additional burdens or leaving you homeless at the very least.

Keep reading

Do You Pay Taxes When Selling Your House?
Great Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home: the 3 Areas with the Biggest ROI
Considering Buying a Home with a Crawl Space? Here’s What You Need to Know
A Brief Guide to Buying Real Estate: The Main Players in Your Next Home Search

Source: fancypantshomes.com

The Most Common Home Buying Real Estate Contingencies

Contingencies in Real Estate Explained

Do you know what a real estate contingency is and how it works? Real Estate contingencies are when some defined action or outcome must occur before a contract becomes legal and binding.

From a buyer’s perspective, a real estate contingency is an escape clause that can be used under defined circumstances. We will take an in-depth look at the most common real estate contingencies you need to understand when buying a home.

Many buyers and sellers are not well educated about the intricacy of some real estate contingency clauses. Given they are significant legal terms in a purchase and sale, it is essential to have a strong working knowledge of how they work.

Some of these clauses can benefit you when purchasing a home, so we will look at some of the contingency clauses you might encounter when buying a property.

If you are buying your first house, it will be especially beneficial to understand real estate contingencies.

Home Buying Contingencies
Home Buying Contingencies Explained

What Are The Most Common Real Estate Contingencies

These are some of the clauses that you may encounter when buying a house. The home buying contingencies below should be completely understood before signing on the dotted line of a purchase and sale agreement.

  1. Home inspection: often called a due diligence contingency, will give the buyer rights to have the house inspected. Most buyers will have a home inspection contingency in their contract. In extreme seller’s real estate markets, it is not uncommon for buyers to waive a home inspection as a way of sweetening their offer.
  2. Obtaining financing: allows the purchaser to get the funds to buy the property from a lender of their choice. Unless a buyer is paying cash, the mortgage contingency clause is almost always found in a purchase and sale agreement.
  3. Appraisal Contingency: You are waiting for a valuation and getting your loan from the bank. You need the real estate appraisal to be at a specified amount. An appraisal contingency will protect you by ensuring the property is valued at the minimum amount required by the borrower. Licensed real estate appraisers conduct appraisals that are hired by the lender.
  4. Association contingency – if there is a homeowners association, there will often be a clause stating the purchase is subject to the successful review of the association documents and financials. Buyers will want to make sure they are comfortable with all of the rules and that the HOA is financially stable.

These contingencies need to be met for a contract to become ratified and binding. While these contingencies are waiting to be performed, the property is considered a contingent house listing. It will be marked in the multiple listing as “contingent” until all the contingencies are satisfied.

When a condition or action is defined, it must be met for the contract to be binding. If these conditions are not met in a purchase contract, one of the parties may decide to terminate the agreement. The meaning of contingent has slight variation differences from state to state, so check with your real estate agent for clarification.

Real Estate Contingencies Explained

Once conditions are met, this makes the contract enforceable, and it is too late to back out without incurring legal consequences. This could involve losing part or all of your earnest money deposit. Many real estate contracts will have earnest money as the relief a seller can get for a buyer not proceeding with a contract.

  • An appraisal contingency protects the purchaser by ensuring the appraisal is at a specific figure for purchase to proceed. The purchase price of the home is usually the threshold that must be met.
  • A financing contingency gives the buyer time to raise funds for the purchase, and if they can’t raise funds, they can be released from the contract without penalty. The mortgage contingency clause will specify how much the buyer is borrowing and when they need to procure their financing.
  • Home sale contingency is put in place when the buyer has not yet sold their own home. Purchasing is contingent on making the sale first. If you are the homeowner awaiting purchase, you may want to put a time limit on this clause when signing the contract. You won’t want it to drag on for months and miss out on other buyers. Home sale contingencies are often frowned upon due to their risky nature.
  • The inspection contingency is contingent on a satisfactory house inspection report. The purchaser will need to be sure that there are no major expenditures required immediately, like a new roof. If a new roof was required, it might cause the buyer to terminate the contract or alternately to ask the seller to pay for it.
  • A homeowners association’s document contingency gives you the right to back out of the sale if you find something in the documentation that is not to your satisfaction. Quite often, it could be finding out that the neighborhood is not doing well from a financial standpoint.

Additional Contingencies in Real Estate Sales

What is a Kick-Out Clause

A buyer or seller can add the kick-out clause to protect against the house sale contingency. If a better offer comes along, a seller can move forward on a purchase agreement with a new buyer after giving the first buyer notice. The buyer with the kick-out clause in place will need to decide on moving forward in a specified amount of time. The time for a decision in a kick-out clause is usually 24-48 hours.

If the buyer does not exercise their right to move forward, the seller can move forward with a contract with buyer #2.

When working with a kick-out clause, it is not a bad idea to consult with a local attorney on crafting appropriate language. A kick-out clause is similar to the right of first refusal found in some real estate contracts.

Why You Should Pay Attention to Contingency Clauses

Real estate purchase and sale agreements are legal contracts. You must understand the details when buying and selling. Not only are huge amounts of money involved, but there is often an emotional investment as well.

Contingency clauses are there to protect you, whether you are buying or selling.

When you buy your house, the contract may say contingent on quite a few things. It is essential to work with an excellent buyer’s agent who will carefully craft appropriate contingencies to be inserted into the contract.

Whether it is a financing clause, home inspection, or some other contingency, it is crucial to stay on top of dates. You will need to make sure you follow all the designated contingency dates, so you stay within your deadlines.

By not providing notice by specified deadlines could leave you open to losing your deposits.

Contingencies Can Benefit Buyers and Sellers

You can make contingencies work for you whether you are selling or buying, as you want your transaction to run as smoothly as possible and complete in time.

So once you sell, there will be contingencies in place in the contract. A contingency is actually a condition that allows everything to move forward to completion. So it is useful when you are purchasing to have some specific contingencies in place to protect you.

Final Thoughts on Real Estate Contingencies

A contingency clearly states expectations and dates. Both buyers and sellers should have a clear understanding of all real estate contingencies meaning. Not understanding a real estate contingency could either cause problems in your transaction or, in a worst-case scenario, a loss of funds.

It is especially important for first-time home buyers to have a firm grasp of common home buying contingency clauses.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of common real estate contingencies when buying a home.

Source: realtybiznews.com

How to Buy a Home in a Seller’s Market: 9 Ways to Win

What is a Seller’s Market?

A seller’s market is when there are more homebuyers in a particular area looking to purchase a home than actual houses listed for sale. A seller’s market usually results in rising home prices and stiffer competition among homebuyers. Also, home sellers will have the upper hand when it comes time to negotiate. However, even if the U.S. housing market is indicating a seller’s market and the competition is fierce, rest assured that you can still buy a home.

How has the pandemic affected the market?

The pandemic has affected the housing market in many ways. Because of the shortage of available homes, and the high amount of buyers still looking for a house, the market has been in favor of the sellers. Although eventually there will be more homes listed in 2021 than there were in 2020, the market will likely still favor the home seller and there may still be considerable competition. However, if you are ready to buy a house don’t let a seller’s market deter you. According to Redfin’s Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather, “mortgage rates are as low as they may ever get, so if you are able to buy a home now, you can take advantage of low rates before they rise.” If you are interested in buying a house this year, here are nine of the best tactics to follow when you are ready to make an offer. 

Be Ready to Act Instantly in a Seller’s Market

1) Get Pre-Approved for a Home Loan

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, one of the smartest things you can do to ensure your chances of buying the home you want is to apply for a pre-approval on a mortgage. Applying for a mortgage after making an offer on a house tells home sellers you may not be as motivated to buy as others. An underwritten pre-approval for a mortgage usually takes about 24 hours and is strongly recommended for those looking to buy and want to be competitive in a seller’s market.

Furthermore, you’ll receive a pre-approval letter from your lender indicating how much of a mortgage you’ve been approved for. Sharing this letter with home sellers shows them you won’t be wasting their time and that you’re motivated to buy their home.

2) Get a Great Real Estate Agent

The home buying process can be stressful and sometimes overwhelming. Having a great real estate agent by your side throughout this process can help make everything go more smoothly and aid you in making an offer quickly when the time comes. This is particularly true if you are moving to a new area or a larger housing market and looking at houses in Atlanta or New York. Your buyer’s agent can provide you with keen insights into specific neighborhoods, such as walkability, schools, and other local amenities. They will also help you when it comes time to make an offer, since they know what’s happening in the local markets and will use that knowledge to negotiate effectively on your behalf. 

eco-friendly green house

eco-friendly green house

How to Make Your Best Offer 

Once you have gone through the pre-approval process, connected with a real estate agent, and found the home you want to buy, you’re ready to make an offer. The following are things you can do to make your offer stand out among the competition.

3) Write an Offer Letter Catered to Each Home Seller

Letters to home sellers have become more and more common in a seller’s market and especially true with competitive neighborhoods. So, how do you write a real estate offer letter that will grab the home seller’s attention? First of all, don’t just tell the home sellers you want to buy their house, tell them why you want it. Home sellers are people too and will be appreciative to hear what you love about their home. Additionally, if you notice that you share something in common with the home sellers, mention it in your offer letter. If you both have kids or dogs, referencing this in your letter is a great way to make yourself more relatable, and will also show you wrote it specifically for them.

4) Make an Offer in Cash if You Can in a Seller’s Market

For sellers, an all-cash offer is very appealing and can lead to a higher likelihood of you winning the house. If you don’t have to use a lender, there’s no financing contingency, which shows the sellers that you will most likely not pull out of the deal due to financial issues. If you pay in cash the sale can also happen quickly and, overall, lead to a smoother home sale. Of course, many of us can’t afford an all-cash offer and will need to rely on other tactics.

5) Put More Earnest Money Down

Earnest money is the amount of money you put down to show how serious you are in purchasing a home, also known as good faith money. Earnest money protects the home seller in case a buyer backs out of a home sale after the offer was accepted. Unless a homebuyer backs out due to something coming up in a home inspection or appraisal, the seller will get to keep the earnest money. Earnest money can also be a great tactic to use if you’re shopping in a seller’s market or competitive neighborhood. Home sellers tend to favor buyers who put down a larger installment of earnest money because it shows that you are serious about your offer and giving you a leg up on the competition.

6) Add an Escalation Clause

An escalation clause is inserted into your purchase offer for a home and is intended to make sure you get the chance to be the highest bidder. This clause states that if the seller receives another offer that is higher than your initial bid, you are willing to increase your offer to a higher price, usually a predetermined amount. Want to give yourself the best chance at calling home in a hot neighborhood your own? Then add an escalation clause to your offer.

7) Waive Extra Contingencies

In a seller’s market, you may want to submit an offer without certain contingencies as a way to stand out among competing offers. Waiving contingencies gives the sellers an advantage by taking away protections for the buyer and should only be done with the recommendation and oversight of your agent. Waiving either the inspection contingency, the appraisal contingency, or both can be an effective way to win a bidding war. In a seller’s market, refrain from asking for high-maintenance contingencies such as only buying the house if your current one sells or that you can knock down a wall. Essentially, keep your contingencies to a minimum so the home seller has fewer hurdles to complete in selling their home.

8) Don’t Restrict the Sellers to a Timeline

Limiting the home seller to a timeline can cause them extra stress when they are likely already overwhelmed. Give the home seller the gift of time, allowing them the flexibility to move out whenever it is best for them. A rent-back agreement is a great option for buyers to purchase the home and then rent it back to the seller to give them time to find a new place to live. Something as simple as time might give your competitive offer the edge it needs to win the home.

9) Be willing to make concessions during negotiations

During the negotiation process, you may have a better chance of closing the deal if you are willing to make compromises. There may be some things that you are not willing to budge on such as a home inspection, but maybe you don’t ask the home seller to redo the back deck or paint the house before you move in. This will allow for a smoother closing process and for you to move into your new home more quickly.

Buying a home can be difficult, especially if you are buying in a seller’s market. Use any or all of the recommended tips to stand out from the competition to help you purchase your next home.

Source: redfin.com

Should you schedule a pest and termite inspection? 5 reasons you should – Redfin

January 6, 2021 February 3, 2021 by Alison Bentley

Updated on February 3rd, 2021

Whether you’re an aspiring first-time homebuyer and about to make your first offer or you have just purchased your second or third home, you’re probably excited to enjoy your new space. But wait, is that a little critter by the backdoor? Maybe it’s just an ant… nothing to worry about, right? Just to be sure there aren’t any other pests lurking about your new house, you might want to consider getting a pest and termite inspection. Here are five reasons you should schedule a termite and pest inspection before any unwanted visitors wreak havoc on your dream home.

house-pest-termite-inspection

house-pest-termite-inspection

Why should you get a pest and termite inspection?

As a new homeowner, it’s always a good idea to cover all your bases and have a pest and termite inspection performed. Homes in more humid climates – think homes in Miami, FL or houses in Houston, TX – are more susceptible to termite infestations due to the increased moisture in the surrounding environment. If you’ve seen any signs of a termite infestation, it might be a good idea to have a termite inspection. These signs can include buckling floorboards, creaky floors, or damaged wood.

For those still in the homebuying process, if you see signs of termite damage in the house, you should consider adding a termite contingency when making an offer on a home. A termite contingency may give you the option to back out of the sale if there’s been significant damage found. Otherwise, you can try to negotiate with the seller to pay for the repairs. 

What if you’re planning on just getting a regular home inspection? Your home inspector likely won’t look for specific types of pest or termite damage. However, if your home inspector does find damage, contacting a pest or termite inspector should be your next step. A pest or termite control specialist like the ones at Terminix can help you determine what the best course of action is, likely scheduling an inspection to determine the extent of the damage.

Is a pest and termite inspection required before closing on a home?

If you’ve already purchased your home, then you didn’t miss out on any required inspections. For most homebuyers, termite and pest inspections are not required before closing on a home. However, certain types of loans such as FHA and VA loans may require you to pay for a pest inspection before your mortgage approval, so it’s best to check with your mortgage lender or real estate agent. Your real estate agent will also know if your particular state or county requires a pest inspection before purchasing a home.

For example, My Termite Company points out, “In California, the Wood Destroying Organisms Report (WDO) does not include pest control. The report includes any termites, termite damage, fungus, fungus damage, dry rot, beetles, and carpenter ants- no pests. It also includes Section 2 findings, meaning any condition that can attract termites in the future such as excessive moisture, plumbing leaks, or earth to wood contact.”

patio-pest-inspection

patio-pest-inspection

5 benefits of having a termite or pest inspection

There are several benefits of having your home inspected for termites or pests.

1) Negotiating power. If the home you’re looking to buy ends up having damage from termites or pests, you’ll likely have better negotiating power. Your real estate agent can help you decide what negotiations to make. These negotiations may include asking the seller to reduce the price so you can pay for pest control services or asking the seller to pay for any repairs or fumigation services before you close on the home.

2) Peace of mind. These inspections will be able to tell you if there’s any structural damage from pests or termites. Your inspector will disclose any issues they find. Then you’ll have an idea of what kind of maintenance you might need as the home’s future owner. 

3) Save money. Moving into a new home can feel like the dream, but it’s always a good idea to know what you’re getting yourself into. Without a pest or termite inspection, you may be foregoing a critical type of home inspection that may end up costing you more money down the road if a problem is left untreated.

4) Prepare for future expenses. If your pest or termite inspector finds certain types of pests in the home you’ll have a better idea of what to look out for as a homeowner. That way, you will know if your new home or the area you’ve moved to is susceptible to specific pests. It will also help you to plan ahead for any costs associated with keeping these pests away.

5) Find a local pest control company. Say your home is more susceptible to termites because you’re buying a house in a more humid area, or that spiders or mice are more common in your county. The good news is you’ve found a local pest control company to help you schedule regular maintenance. You’ll know just who to call for help if any critters start appearing in your house.

What to expect during a pest inspection

The inspection will take roughly 30 minutes but can vary based on the size of the home and whether there’s a basement, crawl space, or any extra areas. The inspector will examine the interior and exterior of the home for any signs of damage, infestation, or specific areas that might be more susceptible to pests. They’ll check for any signs of moisture. Damaged wood or buckled paint indicate the presence of wood-destroying insects like termites. They are more likely to be found in these areas vulnerable areas.

Green Pest Services provides the advice, “When scheduling an inspection, pest control experts will typically need to know the following details about the property including: square footage, number of floors, any current pest concerns and their locations within the home, and, of course, the address. Knowing these details will help prepare your pest expert for their visit. It can even provide insight as to what particular areas of the home may be at risk of pest invasions and, therefore, could use additional attention.”

The inspector will check for a variety of different bugs such as carpenter ants, fleas, mosquitos, and moths, among others. Where you are located may also play a role in the types of pests your inspector will look for. Some pests are more likely to be found in certain areas or are local to your region. If these types of local pests are found during the inspection, your pest inspector may recommend regular pest control to keep these critters at bay. 

Source: redfin.com

Buying in a Seller’s Market: 9 Ways to Win

What is a Seller’s Market?

A seller’s market is when there are more homebuyers in a particular area looking to purchase a home than actual houses listed for sale. A seller’s market usually results in rising home prices and stiffer competition among homebuyers. Also, home sellers will have the upper hand when it comes time to negotiate. However, even if the U.S. housing market is indicating a seller’s market and the competition is fierce, rest assured that you can still buy a home.

How has the pandemic affected the market?

The pandemic has affected the housing market in many ways. Because of the shortage of available homes, and the high amount of buyers still looking for a house, the market has been in favor of the sellers. Although eventually there will be more homes listed in 2021 than there were in 2020, the market will likely still favor the home seller and there may still be considerable competition. However, if you are ready to buy a house don’t let a seller’s market deter you. According to Redfin’s Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather, “mortgage rates are as low as they may ever get, so if you are able to buy a home now, you can take advantage of low rates before they rise.” If you are interested in buying a house this year, here are nine of the best tactics to follow when you are ready to make an offer. 

Be Ready to Act Instantly in a Seller’s Market

1) Get Pre-Approved for a Home Loan

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, one of the smartest things you can do to ensure your chances of buying the home you want is to apply for a pre-approval on a mortgage. Applying for a mortgage after making an offer on a house tells home sellers you may not be as motivated to buy as others. An underwritten pre-approval for a mortgage usually takes about 24 hours and is strongly recommended for those looking to buy and want to be competitive in a seller’s market.

Furthermore, you’ll receive a pre-approval letter from your lender indicating how much of a mortgage you’ve been approved for. Sharing this letter with home sellers shows them you won’t be wasting their time and that you’re motivated to buy their home.

2) Get a Great Real Estate Agent

The home buying process can be stressful and sometimes overwhelming. Having a great real estate agent by your side throughout this process can help make everything go more smoothly and aid you in making an offer quickly when the time comes. This is particularly true if you are moving to a new area or a larger housing market and looking at houses in Atlanta or New York. Your buyer’s agent can provide you with keen insights into specific neighborhoods, such as walkability, schools, and other local amenities. They will also help you when it comes time to make an offer, since they know what’s happening in the local markets and will use that knowledge to negotiate effectively on your behalf. 

eco-friendly green house

eco-friendly green house

How to Make Your Best Offer 

Once you have gone through the pre-approval process, connected with a real estate agent, and found the home you want to buy, you’re ready to make an offer. The following are things you can do to make your offer stand out among the competition.

3) Write an Offer Letter Catered to Each Home Seller

Letters to home sellers have become more and more common in a seller’s market and especially true with competitive neighborhoods. So, how do you write a real estate offer letter that will grab the home seller’s attention? First of all, don’t just tell the home sellers you want to buy their house, tell them why you want it. Home sellers are people too and will be appreciative to hear what you love about their home. Additionally, if you notice that you share something in common with the home sellers, mention it in your offer letter. If you both have kids or dogs, referencing this in your letter is a great way to make yourself more relatable, and will also show you wrote it specifically for them.

4) Make an Offer in Cash if You Can in a Seller’s Market

For sellers, an all-cash offer is very appealing and can lead to a higher likelihood of you winning the house. If you don’t have to use a lender, there’s no financing contingency, which shows the sellers that you will most likely not pull out of the deal due to financial issues. If you pay in cash the sale can also happen quickly and, overall, lead to a smoother home sale. Of course, many of us can’t afford an all-cash offer and will need to rely on other tactics.

5) Put More Earnest Money Down

Earnest money is the amount of money you put down to show how serious you are in purchasing a home, also known as good faith money. Earnest money protects the home seller in case a buyer backs out of a home sale after the offer was accepted. Unless a homebuyer backs out due to something coming up in a home inspection or appraisal, the seller will get to keep the earnest money. Earnest money can also be a great tactic to use if you’re shopping in a seller’s market or competitive neighborhood. Home sellers tend to favor buyers who put down a larger installment of earnest money because it shows that you are serious about your offer and giving you a leg up on the competition.

6) Add an Escalation Clause

An escalation clause is inserted into your purchase offer for a home and is intended to make sure you get the chance to be the highest bidder. This clause states that if the seller receives another offer that is higher than your initial bid, you are willing to increase your offer to a higher price, usually a predetermined amount. Want to give yourself the best chance at calling home in a hot neighborhood your own? Then add an escalation clause to your offer.

7) Waive Extra Contingencies

In a seller’s market, you may want to submit an offer without certain contingencies as a way to stand out among competing offers. Waiving contingencies gives the sellers an advantage by taking away protections for the buyer and should only be done with the recommendation and oversight of your agent. Waiving either the inspection contingency, the appraisal contingency, or both can be an effective way to win a bidding war. In a seller’s market, refrain from asking for high-maintenance contingencies such as only buying the house if your current one sells or that you can knock down a wall. Essentially, keep your contingencies to a minimum so the home seller has fewer hurdles to complete in selling their home.

8) Don’t Restrict the Sellers to a Timeline

Limiting the home seller to a timeline can cause them extra stress when they are likely already overwhelmed. Give the home seller the gift of time, allowing them the flexibility to move out whenever it is best for them. A rent-back agreement is a great option for buyers to purchase the home and then rent it back to the seller to give them time to find a new place to live. Something as simple as time might give your competitive offer the edge it needs to win the home.

9) Be willing to make concessions during negotiations

During the negotiation process, you may have a better chance of closing the deal if you are willing to make compromises. There may be some things that you are not willing to budge on such as a home inspection, but maybe you don’t ask the home seller to redo the back deck or paint the house before you move in. This will allow for a smoother closing process and for you to move into your new home more quickly.

Buying a home can be difficult, especially if you are buying in a seller’s market. Use any or all of the recommended tips to stand out from the competition to help you purchase your next home.

Source: redfin.com

How To Make an Offer on a House: A 9 Step Guide

You’ve found your dream home and you’re ready to take the next step toward making it yours. After preparing and saving for your big purchase, it’s time to learn how to make an offer on a house. Offer letters are sales contracts and are legally binding, so it’s important to take this process seriously.

Find out everything you need to know about making an offer on a house with this guide. Below is a quick overview of the offer process. Feel free to click on each one to jump to everything you need to know about that step.

Steps for Making an Offer on a House:

  1. Determine you can afford the house and decide to make an offer.
  2. Talk with your real estate agent about comparable homes before making an offer.
  3. Your real estate agent compiles a written offer.
  4. The written offer is sent to the seller’s agent.
  5. The seller replies and your offer is accepted, countered, or declined.
  6. Learn how to compete with multiple buyers.
  7. The closing process begins when your offer is accepted.
  8. Remember to negotiate before finalizing if contingencies reveal flaws with the house or deal.
  9. Once your offer is accepted, you finalize the contract.

What to Know Before Making an Offer on a House

In addition to researching the process of making an offer, learn these key tips to keep in mind throughout.

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  • Try to sell first and buy after. If you aren’t a first-time homebuyer, it’s a good idea to sell your current home before buying a new one. This is important if you’re using the sale of the old home to purchase the new one.
  • Scope out the local market. Your real estate agent will use information on similar houses for sale in the area to put together your offer.
  • Ask about other offers. Your agent does this for you. Sometimes the seller’s agent won’t disclose this, but this information can inform your offer.
  • Learn about the house. If there are problems with the house, you’ll want to find out and keep them in mind when you make an offer.
  • Know what the seller wants. Have your agent find out what appeals to the seller and try to include it in your offer. If the house still has a mortgage, offering an early payment can help tip the balance in your favor.
  • Act fast. For the best chance at your dream home, submit an offer quickly. Don’t wait around because someone else will likely snap it up if you hesitate.

Step 1: Determine Affordability of the House

Finding your dream house is the easy part. Figuring out if you can afford it takes a hard look at the numbers. Set a home budget beforehand and be strict about sticking to it when looking at houses. To gauge what your budget should be, a majority of lenders advise that you shouldn’t spend more than 28 percent of your monthly pre-tax income. Be sure to include your estimated monthly payment plus other costs like the down payment, HOA fees, home insurance, and property taxes in your budget.

When you go through the lending process, lenders can help you determine what is affordable. If you’re not there yet, use this home affordability calculator to see if your dream house is in your budget.

Step 2: Talk with Your Real Estate Agent

Making an informed offer is the key to giving you the best chance of getting the house you want. Speak with your real estate agent about what comparable homes in the area are going for and use this information to guide your offer.

Step 3. Compile an Offer Letter

After comparing similar houses for sale, you’ll work with your agent on your offer. There are many components to an offer letter. We discuss everything that is included, how to navigate your offer price and contingencies, and tips for making an offer they can’t refuse.

What’s Inside an Offer Letter

Offer letters are legally binding sales contracts, and it’s important to be thorough about what you include.

Typical Components of an Offer Letter:

  • Offer price: This is the amount of money you are willing to pay for the house.
  • Contingencies: Conditions that the seller must abide by if and when they accept your offer. Standard contingencies include a home inspection and appraisal. Jump down to learn more about contingencies.
  • Down payment: The amount paid for the home upfront. This can be anywhere between 3 to 20 percent when paired with a conventional loan.
  • Earnest money: This is a deposit made by the buyer to demonstrate good faith on a contract to buy a home. It’s generally a small percentage of the price and is held in escrow until the offer is closed. It’s usually applied to the down payment or closing costs once the offer is accepted.
  • Closing costs: These include all costs associated with purchasing a home. Read more on some of the common closing costs like inspection and loan origination fees.
  • Timeline: You’ll include your preferred closing date, as well as the closing date of your current home if you aren’t a first-time buyer.

How Much Should You Offer?

Figuring out how much you should offer depends on what you can afford and what kind of market you’re dealing with at the time of the purchase. Your real estate agent should guide you through making an offer, but ultimately, you are the one who decides what you’re willing to pay. A good rule of thumb is that your first offer should leave some room for negotiation, so don’t give away what you’re willing to pay right away.

buyer-vs-sellers-market

Making an Offer in a Buyer’s Market

In a buyer’s market, you have more power to negotiate because there is more supply than demand. With the bargaining advantage on your side, you can feel more comfortable making an offer below the asking price. If you do offer below asking price, negotiation is a typical response.

When offering less, it’s also important to be respectful of the seller. Offending them with an outrageously low offer could result in them rejecting and you losing your dream house.

Making an Offer in a Seller’s Market

A seller’s market is when the housing demand exceeds the supply. In this situation, you will not have the bargaining advantage, and you will be competing with others for attractive properties. If you can afford it, exceeding the seller’s asking price can help you stand out among other offers. Remember to keep your budget in mind when negotiating and don’t offer an amount you can’t afford.

Contingencies

Contingencies are conditions of the purchase that get outlined in your offer and must be met for the sale to go through. If they aren’t met, based on the contingency, either the buyer or seller can cancel the sale. About 74 percent of buyers include contingencies in their offers, so let’s discuss the standard ones below.

Home Inspection Contingency
A home inspection contingency exercises your right to have the property inspected before closing the sale. If the inspection reveals problems with the house like faulty plumbing or a compromised structure, there is room to remedy any issues before you close. You can negotiate for a lower price, ask the seller to make repairs, or even back out of the offer.

It’s not advisable to forego a home inspection contingency to make your offer more attractive. This could cause you to pay more for a damaged property and could cause financial problems down the line if you find out there are major issues with the house that are costly to fix. Home inspections prior to closing are always recommended.

Home Appraisal Contingency
A home appraisal contingency verifies that the price you are paying is fair compared to the home’s market value. In the event that the house you are buying is appraised as lower than the selling price, you are able to negotiate with the seller or cancel the contract. This is recommended to prevent you from paying more than you should for a house.

Home Sale Contingency
In case you need to sell your current home in order to finance a new one, you can make a home sale contingency. This contingency stipulates that the current house must be sold before the new purchase can close.

Home sale contingencies aren’t attractive for sellers, as they cause delays and discourage other offers. A clause can be attached to this contingency by sellers to include a sell-by date. If your house hasn’t sold by the date in the clause, the seller is legally able to move on with other offers.

Financing/Mortgage Contingency
A financing or mortgage contingency allows the buyer time to secure financing from a lender. For buyers, this provides insurance that they can cancel the sale and recover their earnest money in case their financing options fall through.

This contingency is usually given a specific timeline, and the buyer can end the contract before time expires. If the buyer has not secured a mortgage and fails to cancel the contract before the allotted time is up, they will still be obligated to purchase the property.

Tips For Making an Offer They Can’t Refuse

When making an offer on a house, remember to appeal to the seller by using these tips to make an offer they can’t refuse.

  • Make an offer in cash. If you have the savings and can afford to make an offer in cash, you can forego the financing contingency. This means less delay in the sale, and it can also help you compete with higher offers with more contingencies.
  • Propose a short closing period. If you’re willing to move quickly, offering a short closing period can appeal to a seller who needs to sell fast.
  • Pay some of their closing costs. All sellers will have closing costs when the sale goes through. Paying off some of those costs can help sweeten the deal for them.
  • Offer up more earnest money. More earnest money shows you’re serious about the home. It’s also more money in the seller’s pocket upfront.
  • Write a personal letter. Homes are very personal and sellers may be emotionally attached to them. Make an emotional appeal by writing a personal letter to tell them the home will be in good hands.

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Step 4. Submit Your Offer

Once you have decided on an offer, your real estate agent will write up a purchase and sale agreement. You will sign this agreement and then they will submit it to the seller’s agent. This agreement is legally binding if the seller agrees.

Step 5. Review Seller’s Reply

A seller can reply in a couple of ways. They can accept, counter or decline. Let’s walk through what to do with any of these three responses and what to do when there’s another buyer.

What to Do When They Accept

Congratulations — they’ve accepted your offer! You can now move on to Step 7 of the offer process. As long as all contingencies are met, you are buying a house.

What to Do When They Counter

The seller might not have liked your offer exactly how it was written and they can counter. It’s then up to you to accept that offer or to start negotiating by countering again. You are also free to back out of the offer if you aren’t happy with the seller’s counteroffer.

If you do end up negotiating, it’s normal for there to be a back and forth of counteroffers. You are both working to come to an agreement on price, timeline, and contingencies, and this takes time.

What to Do When They Decline

Unfortunately, if the seller declines, you won’t be buying that particular house for what you offered. If there is room in your budget, you could attempt to make a more attractive offer. About 45 percent of buyers end up making multiple offers during the buying process. However, not every budget allows for a better offer.

A declined offer is a disappointing outcome, but it’s important to be respectful of the seller’s decision. Take the time to talk to your real estate agent and learn about what can be done differently when the next opportunity comes around.

Step 6: How to Compete With Multiple Buyers

In a competitive housing market, desirable properties will attract many buyers. Here are a few potential scenarios that can play out if a seller receives multiple offers.

Multiple Buyer Scenarios:

  1. If your offer didn’t compare with the others, they may decline you and pursue other offers.
  2. If your offer was one of the better offers, they may ask each buyer to return with their best offer and make a decision among those final offers.
  3. They may allow a bidding war to see who will come up with the best offer.

Strategies for Competing With Multiple Offers:

  1. Be flexible with your contingencies. Keep important ones like the home inspection and appraisal, but figure out which ones aren’t necessary for you.
  2. If there is room in your budget, add an escalation clause. This notifies the seller that you will outbid the highest offer up to a maximum amount. This shows you are serious and keeps you competitive price-wise.
  3. Mention preapproval for a mortgage if you have it. The more likely you are to obtain financing, the more attractive you are as a candidate.
  4. If you can afford it, increase your down payment or earnest money deposit.

To keep everything professional, remember that your real estate agent should facilitate negotiations directly with the seller’s agent.

Step 7: Start the Closing Process

The closing process begins when a buyer accepts your offer. This process includes all necessary actions that must be done to move the transaction forward like reviewing what you owe, authorizing documents, and transferring the title. For an in depth walkthrough of this process, check out this guide for closing on a house.

Step 8. Negotiating After Your Offer is Accepted

When a seller accepts your offer, you will first move forward with any contingencies. If anything is wrong with the house or deal, you have the ability to negotiate or even walk away. Here are some examples of negotiations based on contingencies:

  • If a home inspection reveals flaws with the house, you can ask for repairs to be made by the seller before the deal is closed so that the financial burden doesn’t fall to you.
  • If the home is appraised to be lower in value than the accepted offer price, negotiate for a lower, more appropriate sale price.

Step 9: Finalize Your Contract

When negotiations have ended and you are satisfied with your contract, you will sign to finalize your purchase. Once you sign, the contract is legally binding.

After you make it through the final step, it’s time to celebrate! Revel in the excitement of purchasing your dream home, and know that you just took a big step toward a new life. Keep up good saving and budgeting habits so you can continue to hit your financial goals in the future.

Sources: Investopedia

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