The dreaded “terms” of an offer

Real Estate Agent with Hodnett Cooper

Your real estate agent just called to tell you that’s someone’s made an offer on your house! Hooray! Your first question is: how much are they offering? It’s an important question, of course, but it covers only part of the offer; the rest of the offer, called “the terms” can be just as critical, or even more so.

If the buyer is seeking a mortgage, there may be financial contingencies: the offer is contingent upon the buyer getting a loan at a certain rate. (This also usually includes an appraisal contingency, during which the lender will have the property appraised, and the buyer may terminate the contract if the property isn’t valued as high as the agreed-upon price.) Even if the buyer is offering cash, there may be a due diligence contingency, which creates a period during which the buyer may have professionals inspect the property, and the buyer may terminate the contract if things aren’t up to snuff, or for any other reason, actually.

The buyer may be requesting that you, the seller, cover some or all of the closing costs, or may be asking that you buy a home warranty. The buyer may make the offer contingent upon the sale of his or her own house, or may ask for a closing date that is months away.

Your real estate agent will go over all these terms with you so that you understand what is being offered. If there is more than one offer, you might choose the one that has a lower price, but terms that are more palatable to you. If you decide to make a counteroffer, you may decide to negotiate some of the terms, and your real estate agent will help you with this. You might even reject the offer completely because the terms are too onerous.

I tell my sellers to get excited about an offer only when they understand everything that it entails!

Comments (1)

Dan Tabit
Keller Williams Bellevue - Sammamish, WA

Hi Anne Peck You're right, the devils in the details.  I've encouraged sellers to accept or counter a lower offer with fewer (or no) contingencies over a higher one.  It's not just about price.

Jun 20, 2016 11:12 AM
Anne Peck

I had an offer just yesterday that contained a 45-day financing contigency with an interest rate so low that essentially the person making the offer was giving themselves a 45-day period in which to terminate for any reason! I just returned from Seattle, where I had never been before. The whole area is stunningly beautiful! My daughter has a (low-paying) job out there, and is going to be renting a house with some friends, and is looking for a reasonably-priced sublet for a few months. I don't think that "reasonably-priced" exists in your market! :-)

Jun 20, 2016 11:46 PM