It’s not always about the money (except when it is).
The day will come — and it will be a wonderful, joyous, do-a-happy-dance day — when you receive an offer, or multiple offers, for your home.
And on that day, you’re going to face a question you may not have previously considered: How do you know if an offer is the best one for you?
Your listing agent will be a big help here. They will understand and help you suss out the merits and faults of an offer because — believe it or not — it’s not always about price.
One buyer’s beautifully high offer might not look so good anymore, for example, if you discover that it’s contingent upon you moving out a month earlier than planned. Or, conversely, you may prefer speed over price, particularly if you’re moving to a new city.
Your listing agent will have a sense of what you want financially and personally — and can help you determine whether the offer at hand satisfies those goals.
Before the first offer rolls in, here’s what you need to know about the offer evaluation process, including the main factors that should go into making a decision — accept or reject? — with your agent.
5 Important Things — Other Than Price — to Consider When Evaluating an Offer
Want to fetch top dollar for your home and walk away with as much money in your pocket as possible? Of course you do. You’ve gone through the time-consuming process of setting your asking price, staging your home, promoting your listing, and preparing for open houses — and should be rewarded for your efforts.
Your first instinct may be to just pick the highest bid on the table. But the offer price isn’t the only thing worth considering.
When vetting offers, evaluate these five areas in addition to price:
1. The earnest money deposit. One important consideration when weighing an offer is the size of the earnest money deposit. The EMD is the sum of cash the buyer is offering to fork over when the sales agreement is signed to show the person is serious (i.e., “earnest”) about buying your home. This money, which is typically held by a title company, will go toward the buyer’s down payment at closing.
A standard EMD is 1% to 3% of the cost of the home (so, that would be $2,000 to $6,000 on a $200,000 house). If a buyer tries to back out of an offer for no good reason, the seller typically keeps the EMD. Therefore, the higher the earnest money, the stronger the offer.
2. The contingencies. Most offers have contingencies — provisions that must be met for the transaction to go through, or the buyer is entitled to walk away from the deal with their earnest money. Contracts with fewer contingencies are more likely to reach closing, and in a timely fashion.
Here are five of the most common contingencies:
That being said, contingencies are always negotiable. (The caveat: Mortgage lenders require borrowers to have appraisal financing contingencies, or they won’t approve the loan.) It’s up to you to decide what you’re comfortable agreeing to, and your agent can help you make that decision.
3. The down payment. Depending on the type of mortgage, the buyer must make a down payment on the house — and the size of that down payment can affect the strength of the offer. In most cases, a buyer’s down payment amount is related to the home loan they’re taking out. Your chief concern as a seller, of course, is for the transaction to close — and for that to happen, the buyer’s mortgage has be approved.
Generally, a larger down payment signals the buyer’s financial wherewithal to complete the sale. The average down payment, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, is 10%. Some mortgage products, such as FHA and VA loans, allow for even lower down payments.
If, by chance, the appraisal comes in higher than your contract’s sale price, the buyer with a higher down payment would more likely be able to cover the difference with the large amount of cash they have available.
4. The all-cash offer. The more cash the buyer plunks down, the more likely the lender is to approve their loan. That’s why an all-cash offer is ideal for both parties. The buyer doesn’t have to fulfill an appraisal contingency — whereby their lender has the home appraised to make sure the property value is large enough to cover the mortgage — or a financing contingency, which requires buyers to obtain mortgage approval within a certain number of days. As always, having a sales contract with fewer contingencies means there are fewer ways for the deal to fall through.
5. The closing date. Settlement, or “closing,” is the day when both parties sign the final paperwork and make the sale official. Typically, the whole process — from accepting an offer to closing — takes between 30 and 60 days; however, the average closing time is 42 days, according to a report from mortgage software company Ellie Mae.
Three days before closing, the buyer receives a closing disclosure from the lender, which he compares with the loan estimate he received when he applied for the loan. If there are material differences between the buyer’s loan estimate and closing disclosure, the closing can’t happen until those amounts are reviewed and approved. But this is rare.
Some transactions can take more time, depending on the buyer’s financing. For example, the average closing time for a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan is 43 days, according to Ellie Mae.
Whether you want a slow or quick settlement will depend on your circumstances. If you’ve already purchased your next home, for instance, you probably want to close as soon as possible. On the other hand, you may want a longer closing period — say, 60 days — if you need the proceeds from the sale to purchase your new home.
When Should You Make a Counteroffer?
Depending on the circumstances, you may be in the position to make a counteroffer. But every transaction is different, based on the particular market conditions and your home. In some circumstances, you can be gutsy with your counteroffer. In others, it might serve your goals better to give in to the buyer’s demands. Your agent can provide helpful insight about when and why a counteroffer will be the right thing for you.
For instance: If you’re in a seller’s market — meaning that homes are selling quickly and for more than the asking prices — and you received multiple offers, your agent may recommend you counteroffer with an amount higher than you would have in a buyer’s market.
If you choose to write a counteroffer, your agent will negotiate on your behalf to make sure you get the best deal for you.
A caveat: In many states sellers can’t legally make a counteroffer to more than one buyer at the same time, since they’re obligated to sign a purchase agreement if a buyer accepts the new offer.
Do you have any questions? I can help!
Have a Great week!
Do you have any questions? I can help!
Ever get the itch to do a DIY project? Whenever we do, our favorites involve getting outdoors and mixing up our landscaping features. Whether its as simple as installing some lighting or a little more time-consuming like re-plotting plants, a fresh look for the lawn always gives your home a fresh look as well. Here are our top five easy landscaping projects!
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It's universally accepted that home staging will help your home sell faster or for the best price—it’s been the common practice in the real estate business for a long time. Sixty-two percent of sellers' agents say that staging a home decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market, according to the National Association of Realtors® 2017 Profile of Home Staging,
"Realtors® know how important it is for buyers to be able to picture themselves living in a home and, according to NAR's most recent report, staging a home makes that process much easier for potential buyers," said NAR President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California and founder of Investment Properties. "While all real estate is local, and many factors play into what a home is worth and how much buyers are will to pay for it, staging can be the extra step sellers take to help sell their home more quickly and for a higher dollar value."
Realtors® representing both buyers and sellers agreed that the living room is the most important room in a home to stage, followed by the master bedroom, the kitchen, and then the yard or outdoor space. The guest bedroom is considered the least important room to stage.
Beyond staging, agents also named the most common home improvement projects they recommend to sellers: Ninety-three percent recommend decluttering the home, 89 percent recommend an entire home cleaning, and 81 percent recommend carpet cleaning. Other pre-sale projects include de-personalizing the home, removing pets during showings and making minor repairs.
Real estate trends vary greatly from market to market. If you have questions about staging, talk to me. I can help!
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Closing costs are fees associated with a home purchase that are paid at the closing of a real estate transaction. In other words at the moment when the title of the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer. Closing costs are incurred by either the buyer or seller. These costs vary widely based on where you live, the property you buy, and the type of loan you choose. Here is a list of fees that may be included in closing. This is a general list and this may change depending on the type of loan or type of property.
Application Fee: It covers the cost for the lender to process your application. It can often include things like a credit check for your credit score or appraisal as well. Before submitting an application, you should ask your lender what does this fee covers. Not all lenders charge an application fee and it can often be negotiated.
Appraisal: This is paid to the appraisal company to confirm the fair market value of the home.
Attorney Fee: This fee pays for an attorney to review the closing documents on behalf of the buyer or the lender.
Closing Fee or Escrow Fee: This fee is paid to the title company, escrow company or attorney for conducting the closing. The title company or escrow oversees the closing as an independent party in your home purchase. Some states require a real estate attorney be present at every closing.
Courier Fees: This covers the cost of transporting documents to complete the loan transaction as quickly as possible.
Credit Report: A credit report is pulled to get your credit history and FICO score.
Escrow Deposit for Property Taxes & Mortgage Insurance: Usually two months of property tax and mortgage insurance payments at closing.
FHA Up-Front Mortgage Insurance Premium (UPMIP): If you have an FHA loan, you’ll be required to pay the UPMIP of 1.75% of the base loan amount. You are also able to roll this into the cost of the loan if you prefer.
Flood Determination: This is paid to a third party to determine if the property is located in a flood zone. If the property is found to be located within a flood zone, you will need to buy flood insurance. The insurance, of course, is paid separately.
Home Inspection: You will likely get your own home inspection to verify the condition of a property and to check for home repairs that may be needed before closing.
Home Owners Association and Transfer Fees: The Seller will pay for this transfer which will show that the dues are paid current, what the dues are, a copy of the association financial statements, minutes and notices. The buyer should review these documents to determine if the Association has enough reserves in place to avert future special assessments, check to see if there are special assessments, legal action, or any other items that might be of concern. Also included will be Association by-laws, rules and regulations and CC & Rs.
Home warranty: Typically paid at closing, this fee is covered by the buyer, but may be included in the contract as the seller’s or Realtor’s responsibility.
Homeowners’ Insurance: This covers possible damages to your home. Your first year’s insurance is often paid at closing.
Lender’s Policy Title Insurance: This is insurance to assure the lender that you own the home and the lender’s mortgage is a valid lien, and it protects the lender if there is a problem with the title. Similar to the title search, but always a separate line item.
Lead-Based Paint Inspection:Covers the cost of evaluating lead-based paint risk.
Owner’s Policy Title Insurance: This is an insurance policy that protects you in the event someone challenges your ownership of the home. It is usually optional.
Origination Fee: This covers the lender’s administrative costs. It’s usually about 1 percent of the total loan but you can sometimes find mortgages with no origination fee.
Pest Inspection: This fee covers the cost to inspect for termites or dry rot, which is required in some states and required for government loans. Repairs can get expensive if evidence of termites, dry rot or other wood damage is found.Points: This amount is charged to reduce the interest rate through the life of the loan. One point is equal to one percent of the loan amount
Prepaid Interest:Most lenders will ask you to prepay any interest that will accrue between closing and the date of your first mortgage payment.
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): If you’re making a down payment that’s less than 20% of the home’s purchase price, chances are you’ll be required to pay PMI. If so, you may need to pay the first month’s PMI payment at closing.
Property Tax: Typically, lenders will want any taxes due within 60 days of purchase by the loan servicer to be paid at closing.
Recording Fees: A fee charged by your local recording office, usually city or county, for the recording of public land records.
Survey Fee: This fee goes to a survey company to verify all property lines and things like shared fences on the property. This is not required in all states.
Title Company Title Search or Exam Fee: This fee is paid to the title company for doing a thorough search of the property’s records. The title company researches the deed to your new home, ensuring that no one else has a claim to the property.
Transfer Taxes: This is the tax paid when the title passes from seller to buyer.
Underwriting Fee: This also goes to your lender, covering the cost of researching whether or not to approve you for the loan.
VA Funding Fee: If you have a VA loan, you may be required to pay a VA funding fee at closing (or you can roll this fee into the cost of the loan if you prefer). This is a percentage of the loan amount that the VA assesses to fund the VA home loan program, however some borrowers are exempt from this fee. The percentage depends on your type of service and the amount of your down payment. Here is a breakdown of the cost of the VA funding fee and a complete list of allowed fees for VA loans
Note : Standard practice is that the seller pays the real estate commission of both the listing agent and the buyer's agent. but if a buyer is in a tough seller's market or bidding war, offering to pay some or all of the real estate agent's fees can be a way to stand out from other offers. They can be up for negotiation, too!
Do you have any questions? I can help!
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The information on this site is intended to be a free resource to provide general information to the public. The information is intended to supplement instruction from your legal, financial or real estate adviser. The information contained on this site should never be taken as a substitute for legal or financial advice from a licensed professional.