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Step 1: What can I afford?
Step 2: Homebuyer counseling
Step 3: Making an offer
Step 4: Applying for a mortgage
Step 5: The home inspection
Step 6: The closing process

Frequently asked questions
Affordability Calculator


You’ve found a home that meets your wants, needs and budget. It’s time to make an offer.

The offer is a legally binding commitment stating that you will buy the property for an agreed-upon price provided that certain terms and conditions are met. An accepted Offer to Purchase Real Estate must be in writing and signed by both parties.

Considerations for the Offer
When you prepare your offer, consider the following points:

  • What is the age and condition of the home?
  • Are any repairs needed? What will they cost? Are the sellers willing to help pay for any repairs?
  • How long has the property been on the market?
  • How active is the market (i.e., buyers or sellers market)?
  • Is the property in a desirable location or school system?
  • Does the home meet many, most or all of the items on your wish list?

Preparing the Offer
The offer should clearly outline all terms and conditions of the sale, including:

  • Your name and the name of the seller
  • The property's address
  • Any special provisions regarding fixtures, appliances, etc.
  • The purchase price being offered (including the deposit put down to bind the offer and the deposit to be paid upon the execution of the Purchase and Sale Agreement)
  • Any additional riders and deadline dates
  • Any contingencies to which the offer is subject (e.g., inspection, securing financing)

Timing and Deadlines
Timing and deadlines are very important in real estate transactions. Allow yourself enough time in your offer to get an inspection, negotiate the Purchase and Sale Agreement, apply for and obtain mortgage financing, and set a closing date. Real estate deals can fail due to not meeting deadlines.

Negotiating the Offer
The seller may accept, reject or counter your offer. If there is a counter-offer, you may in turn accept, reject or counter that. Remember that regardless of the progress of your negotiations, the house remains on the market during negotiations.

The Purchase and Sale Agreement
Once your offer has been accepted, a Purchase and Sales agreement is drawn up by the realtor. This is likely the second contract between the buyer and seller, and it spells out the agreement in specific detail. This is a legally binding contract that you should review before you sign it.

Provisions and Contingencies
You can provide protections for you and your money by including provisions and contingencies in your offer. The Purchase and Sale Agreement should include a mortgage contingency clause, stating that your ability to buy the house is contingent upon your obtaining financing by an agreed-upon date. Such a clause ensures that you do not lose your deposit on the house if your loan is not approved.

Other contingencies should include acceptable home inspections. The loan closing date and occupancy date should also be indicated in the agreement.

Making An Offer

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Support provided by the  
Wells Fargo Housing Foundation