A Buyer Has Made an Offer On Your Home. Now What?: Home Selling Series Pt. 6

August 21, 2020

What a relief, when your broker notifies you that a buyer wants to make an offer on your house. You’re nearing the end of the often-complex real estate sales process, but there are still many steps to complete the sale, and you should keep the home in showing shape until the contract is signed.

The presentation of a contract comes next, with your listing agent presenting to you (their client), an offer submitted by the potential buyer or their agent.

Your broker is there to advise you on the offer (or multiple offers) and determine whether the buyer is qualified to make the purchase. If the buyer’s financing checks out and the offer is acceptable, you will sign off on it, and it becomes a ratified contract. The offer will include:

Price. The price being offered.
Property and Parties. Legal description of the property, and names and addresses of buyers and sellers.
Earnest Money. Amount of earnest money deposit, which will be held in an escrow account by the broker, unless otherwise noted.
Down Payment. Amount of down payment and details about the financing of the purchase. The buyer should indicate the maximum interest they would be willing to pay and the right to cancel without penalty if such financing is unavailable.
Important Dates. Proposed settlement and occupancy date, and daily rent provision if the seller can’t vacate and becomes a temporary tenant of the buyer.
Contingencies. Anything that could delay or stop the sale, such as satisfactory review by an attorney, home inspection, appraisal or sale of the buyer’s current house.

Your broker may advise you to make a counter offer, or even to reject the offer if it seems unreasonable. Once the terms are agreed upon by both buyer and seller, the sales contract is considered “ratified.” Then the home is under contract, and you’re on your way to the finish line. Other offers can be considered as back-ups, but be sure not to sell the house twice.

After this, generally here are the steps to complete the sale, from Long & Foster’s Home Seller’s Guide:


You can see why a professional real estate agent working on your behalf will make this process go a lot more smoothly. Plus, a professionally marketed home often sells for more money. The median price in 2019 among for-sale-by-owner homes was $200,000, compared to $280,000 for broker-represented sales, according to the National Association of Realtors.

This is the sixth in a series of articles about selling your home. Read additional posts in the series here.