Real Estate buyers home buying

Ready to Make an Offer? Here’s How to Make It a Good One.

By HomeSmart International Marketing Team on February 29, 2020

Congratulations! You’ve been searching for the perfect home, putting so much time and energy into the process, and now you finally found a home where you can see a future for yourself. But chances are if you love the home, another potential buyer probably loves it too. So before you take the leap and make an offer, here are some tips that you should keep in mind to stand out from your competitors and easily seal the deal.

1) Setting the Right Starting Price

The most influential component of an offer is the price you propose to pay for the home. Work with an experienced agent to come up with a strong offer that makes sense for you and the seller first. Otherwise, your feelings of excitement and impatience can quickly become impulsive decisions, resulting in a weak offer that hasn’t been thoughtfully prepared. Here are a few tips to make sure that your emotions don’t get the best of you when setting a price.

Research the Market

It’s never a bad idea to understand what the home is selling for when you make an offer. But at the same time, the listing price isn’t everything. Instead of basing your offer off of one number, take the time to see what similar homes in the neighborhood have sold for and compare. Understanding how this all works together can be difficult if you are doing it by yourself, so we recommend that you use an agent to help you. Agents will do the market research for you and help you create an attractive offer based on sales of comparable homes in the area.

Research the Seller

While market statistics can indicate what the price a home might sell for compared to others, this doesn’t take an individual homeowner’s situation into account. What if the seller is struggling to find a new home and wants to delay closing? Or maybe they are being forced to leave their home for relocation reasons and need to get the transaction done as soon as possible. By taking the time to do a little extra research on the individual home and its seller in addition to the market, you may be able to find the motivations behind the sale and craft your offer more appropriately.

Buying a home takes more than a simple exchange of money for property. There are several costs that go into the process of buying a home that you will need to account for before you make that decision – especially if you want to save yourself from stress later on.

A down payment can be one of your largest upfront expenses, no matter what type of mortgage you decide on. You might opt for a conventional mortgage with a 20% down payment or a loan insured by the Federal Housing Association (FHA) with as little as 3.5% down. But no matter what you have to pay upfront, it’s best to start saving early and prepare for a large expense. Even a 5% down payment on a $200,000 home, for example, is still $10,000 – that’s nothing to laugh at. If you aren’t sure how to start saving, think about the small steps you can take, whether it’s setting aside tax refunds or not going to Starbucks as often. The little things can really add up! 

It’s also important to save for those monthly payments that come after the down payment. Whether you decide on a loan that has a shorter or longer term, monthly payments are an ongoing expense that you need to account for. If you have a conventional loan and didn’t put down 20% upfront, your lender will likely require you to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) as part of your monthly payment. Annually, this expense may make up 0.5-1% of the cost of your loan and serves to protect your lender if you stop making payments. But no matter how much you put down initially, you want to feel confident that you have the means to make a full payment every month.

Don’t forget closing costs! This chunk of money will go toward all of the important steps that ensure your home is ready to live in. According to, closing costs account for anywhere from 2% to 7% of your home’s final price. 

These are all expected expenses, but what about those unexpected costs? Unfortunately, homes don’t have superpowers and are always prone to unforeseen issues. The garage door could suddenly stop working, your oven could die on you or a big storm could damage your roof. These are all problems that might need a quick fix, and if you don’t have any emergency savings that you can contribute, you’ll be left scrambling.

2) Be Careful with Contingencies

It’s important to think about any contingencies you have and clearly spell them out for the seller and the seller’s agent. These include any outside requirements that must be met before you can complete your end of the transaction. There are a few common contingencies that are included in many offers, like inspections and appraisals, that protect buyers in case the home has issues that weren’t initially stated. Therefore, it’s a good idea to include contingencies like these to ensure that you can change your offer or back out if needed. 

At the same time, be mindful when stating your contingencies. If you end up having too many, it’s possible you might turn off the seller. Sellers often see contingencies as obstacles in the transaction, so if you have a long list of them, it might put a red flag on your offer. Work with your agent to decide what you really need before you can buy a home and focus on those rather than your list of wants.

3) Don't Forget About Earnest Money

Earnest money can make you stand out in a pool of competitive offers, because it shows a level of commitment from buyers. By putting down earnest money, you’re agreeing to pay the sellers a deposit before buying the house––whether or not you actually go through with the transaction. Therefore, it’s important to be serious about the home you’re making an offer on. According to, paying 1-2% of the home’s purchase price in earnest money is normal for most markets. However, in competitive markets this amount could be up to 10%. This is another reason why it’s so important to use an agent. They can help you determine a competitive amount based on your market. 

4) Make It Personal

It’s common for sellers to be emotionally attached to their homes, and they want to find a buyer who will love it and take pride in caring for it as they do. To stand out against the rest of the offers, and show the seller who you are, consider personalizing your offer. Share your story. Include a message that explains who you are, what your family is like and what excites you about the home. Share what you’re most looking forward to experiencing in that house and what it would mean to you to call it yours. By making your offer personal, it will help the seller see you as someone who will love the home, rather than a mere name or dollar amount.

5) Move Quickly, But with Intention

When creating a competitive offer, it’s important to move quickly because you never know how many other people are doing the same. If a seller sees an offer they like before they have seen yours, they just might accept it. So don’t put it off! After you see a home, be honest with yourself. If you can envision yourself living there, start working with your agent on an offer right away. But if there’s any hesitation, always look to your agent for clarity and guidance. They can help you weigh the pros and cons of the home and ensure that you move forward with intention, whether that means submitting an offer or not. 

If you’re worried about everything getting done the right way, especially when you’re in a time crunch, you should be able to trust your agent. At HomeSmart, our agents have been carefully trained to understand every step of the offer process and make it as stress-free as possible for the buyer. Our agents understand that you’re human, which is why they won’t just help you write the offer, but they’ll take your thoughts and opinions into account while doing so. By working with a HomeSmart agent, you can feel confident in having a competitive offer that will secure the home of your dreams.

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