You’ve been searching for weeks, maybe even months, and right now, you are standing in the home of your dreams. You can’t describe it…something just feels RIGHT about this one.

Prepare yourself, this journey isn’t easy.

You leave the house, discuss it with someone, and then make the decision to call your real estate agent to write up an offer. The first thing your agent should do is call the listing agent on the home to 1. make sure the home is still available, 2. Let it be known that an offer ‘might’ be coming from you, 3. tell the listing agent to notify them if another offer is received before you have the chance to write yours. When you are getting ready to get together with your agent, make sure you bring your checkbook. You are going to need to write a check for an earnest deposit. As we discussed before, this amount can vary with the price of the home, but should be enough to let the seller know that you are serious.

When you get there, or before, your real estate agent (if they’re a buyer’s agent) should do some research and be able to present you with some comps in the area to help you decide on a fair offer. Most will not suggest an offer price to you, but will help guide you in the right direction. If they feel your offer is way too low and will offend the seller, they should & will let you know. You’ve all been walking through homes in the area and will have an idea of asking price on the ones you walked through. But an educated buyer needs to know about recent sales in the area to come up with a fair offer. This is where a real estate agent really comes in handy.

Now, if you’ve been told there’s multiple offers being submitted on the property, you will need to figure out what the highest price is that you are willing to pay for the home and offer somewhere around that price. We call it ‘highest and best’. The agent working for the seller is also going to point out different things to the seller like seller-paid closing costs, strength and feasibility of your loan, the size of your earnest deposit, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask for things like closings costs when there’s multiple offers, just keep in mind what the seller will ‘net’ off your offer.

If there’s not multiple offers, then you will just get together with your agent, determine your offer price, sign all the paperwork, give your agent your earnest money check, get copies of your paperwork….and WAIT.

The seller will do one of 3 things; reject your offer, accept your offer or counter. When you get the price and terms all worked out, the clock starts ticking. Your real estate agent will likely suggest that you do inspections on the home. Your earnest money will be deposited into a trust account. Your lender will start working on your file. The real estate agent will be in charge of getting your contract to your lender and to the title company of your choice. You, as the buyer, will be in charge of choosing someone to do the inspections that you’d like to have done on the home. There’s all sorts of inspections for radon gas, termites, whole house, structural, etc. The inspection period is also the time that you should call your insurance provider and discuss your new home to be sure it’s insurable. In Missouri/Kansas, inspection periods usually consist of about 10 days, but can be more or less as agreed upon by buyer and seller. Your inspection will need to be paid for at the time the home is inspected ($300-$400) and be prepared to spend about 2-3 hours at the home with the inspector.

The inspector will point out serious issues if there are any, and also safety issues and minor concerns. Usually, you’ll have the chance to ask the seller to repair any major issues with the home. Sometimes homes are sold as-is, and if there’s a major concern you would just cancel the contract. Keep in mind that if you’re asking for something to be fixed, this is a re-negotiation period and the seller has the right to cancel the contract as well. Do your best to only focus on the issues that are of great concern to you and work with the seller on what needs to be repaired. If the inspector turns up something that makes you afraid to buy the home, you do have the right to cancel your contract and walk away. Our contracts state that you will get your earnest money back, but real estate agents don’t enforce the contract.

During the time between contract and close, your lender may be asking you for additional items for your file. Do your very best to get these to the lender in a timely manner. If you don’t have the ability to fax during the day, drop the documents off with your real estate agent and they will be more than happy to send them to the lender for you. Also, this is NOT the time to go and buy a new car or get furniture on credit. Everything you do between contract and close will be watched by the underwriter. Don’t run up those credit cards or take a bunch of money out of your checking account, etc. Wait until you’ve closed and gotten the keys to your home to do those things. We’ve watched buyers lose homes for years over something as simple as putting a refrigerator on a credit card before closing. If you have a question about anything like this, feel free to call your lender or real estate agent and ask their advice. This is what we’re here for.

Next blog: Buying your first home; Closing Day.

Disclaimer: We sell real estate in Missouri and Kansas. Laws and contracts will vary from state to state.