Evaluating the Offer

Welcome back to our in-depth look at – “The Offer.”

If you’ve ever sold a house, you know that the offer represents the most dramatic moment in the entire transaction.

The phone rings. It’s your REALTOR®. And they say – “we have an offer!”

And you say – “how much?”

It’s just human nature. I was that way every time I sold a house. I wanted to know the price! Whether I was going to make a handsome profit. Whether I’d have enough money to make a huge down payment on my next house. Whether all my hard work getting the place ready for sale – paid off.


But after selling two or three houses, I learned something. And that is – price isn’t everything. Your REALTOR® will tell you the same thing. Because even though price is at the top of the list in every real estate transaction, it’s not the only thing on that list.

It’s just like reading an article in the newspaper. First you see the headline – and that would be the price. But then you read the article…and that’s where all the details are.

So when you get an offer – you should expect to sit down with your REALTOR®, over several cups of coffee, and together, go through the offer, paragraph by paragraph…beyond the headline. And deep into the fine print.

One thing to look for? Anything that could cost you money. Because after all, if you have to sock a lot of money into the deal to make it happen – there goes your nice profit. So talk to your realtor about whether there’s anything in that offer that could make you start writing checks. The number one issue here? Is usually the home inspection.

If the buyer asks for a home inspection contingency, you can either agree, or not. But be aware that denying a home inspection sends up a big red flag. As a compromise, you could ask for a general inspection – in which they check out the house, to see if it’s sound…but they don’t ask you to do any repairs. Talk to your REALTOR® about that option.

Next up? The buyer might ask you for a subsidy. For closing costs, or down payment assistance. If you’ve had trouble selling your place – you might want to consider it. But remember – every dollar you give the buyer comes out of your bottom line.

Another thing to look for…the buyer might ask you to leave some items behind. That brand new grill. Those expensive curtains. And maybe even that great big flat screen TV. So make sure when you go through that contract you’re aware of – what they’re asking for.

Some things don’t cost you money but instead they cost you time. So look very carefully at the closing date. Make sure that figures into your plans. Because again even if they’ve offered the best possible price you need to know for sure that the closing is going to happen within a reasonable amount of time rather than let’s say, late summer!

And remember one other thing. Even if a buyer offers you a sky high price, if they need a mortgage the lender will call in an appraiser. And if the offer is ridiculously high, the place might not appraise. There goes part of that profit, and maybe the whole deal, right down the drain.

So again, price is important. Price is number one on every list. But as I said, it’s not the only thing on that list.

Talk to your REALTOR®. They will guide you through every offer you receive. They’ll look for anything that might cost you money or time. And help you completely understand whether the offer is a good one – or not.

Because even though the headline catches your attention, sometimes the highest offer is not the best. And sometimes the best offer it’s not the highest. You’ll never know until you go through every word – on every page – of “The Offer.”

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