Great news! You have a contract on your house. Do you take it?
So…your house is on the market. You’re ready to sell. You have done your homework. You have decluttered it and cleaned it up. You have staged it and had great pictures taken. Now it’s show time. More good news. You just received your first signed offer to buy your house. You’re thrilled. Right? So, what’s the problem? Should you take it?
This is part of our on-going best-in-class series of real estate articles by Nick Santoro and Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers who service Pennsylvania and New Jersey and specialize in buying and selling homes, the real estate industry, home content downsizing, property management and estate sales. These tips and insights are especially important and true in the environment we are in today, with the global economy turned upside down, massive job losses, and the need for extreme social distancing due to the Corona Virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.
Naturally, if you have received an all cash, as is, quick close, full price offer, you should jump on it. But, as we all know this rarely happens. In this brief article, we’ll share with you some things to consider when a buyer makes an offer on your home.
After the initial excitement of receiving a written offer, home sellers need to take a close look at the details. We are talking about looking beyond just the offer price.
Nick Santoro says, “You should look at every offer the same way, whether you have one offer or multiple offers.” Nick points out that anyone can write anything in a contract, so it’s up to your listing agent to check out whether the buyer is truly qualified.
Sellers automatically look first at the purchase price. Nick shares that other factors should have equal weight. Financing is an important consideration.
“A lender letter should be attached to every offer, so your agent can contact that lender and ask about the buyer’s qualifications,” Santoro says.
A home sellers listing agents will want to know if the loan is fully documented; if the lender foresees any credit problems and if the buyer’s cash is in the bank. Joe Santoro recommends requesting a document called a BFI or buyers financial statement, which includes income, debt and assets, including the cash needed for the purchase.
Nick suggests that you compare the mortgage preapproval letter and the buyer purchase offer to make sure the buyers are fully approved to borrow as much as they need.
Joe Santoro, co-founder of Personal Property Managers points out that virtually all buyer offers include contingencies on the buyer’s financing, home inspection and appraisal. Joe points out that the more contingencies there are, the more opportunities there are for the buyers to walk away.
Here are four Buyer and Seller contingencies that should be reviewed carefully:
Buyer Financing. The financing contingency should be 21 days or less, If someone makes a full-price offer but they need 60 days to tie up their financing, they’re asking you to take your home off the market while they figure out how to buy it.
Buyer Home inspection. The home inspection contingency should take place in 7 to 10 days at most. A seller can choose to sell their house “as is” and agree to an inspection that allows the buyer to walk away if they don’t like the report but doesn’t allow negotiations for repairs. Buyers who bid up the price on a house sometimes try to use the inspection as a way to lower it back down by having the seller subtract the cost of repairs from the price. Joe Santoro points out that often times, a buyer home inspection, done by a third party is often where a deal breaks down. Every seller thinks their house is perfect and nothing needs to be done to it, and certainly does not want to pay for any repairs as they are leaving anyway. Conversely, every buyer wants to buy a house that they feel is perfect and wants all home inspection issues addressed in fully. This is not always possible or particle. If you have never sold a house before, a buyer home inspection report often is about 40 pages in length and can scare away both buyers and seller. It is not meant to be this way, but is often taken as an insult. Diplomacy and negotiations are the key here.
Buyer lender appraisal. The appraisal contingency should be 21 days or less, An agreement of sale can be fully accepted by both buyer and seller but it can fall apart if the buyers lender when conducting a market analysis and appraisal feels that the house is worth less than it may be listed for and agreed upon. No bank or lender will lend mortgage money on a property that is valued less than the home purchase price. We recommend making sure the buyer has enough cash to bring extra money to closing if the appraisal comes in low. Otherwise, the seller would have to reduce the price or split the difference with the buyer.
Settlement date. Typically, closing is set for 30 to 45 days after the contract is accepted. If a buyer asks for a longer term, it could be that they are not financially ready. A longer settlement gives the buyer more time to back out, which could force the seller to put their home back on the market. If the seller is moving into a new house, the settlement date is crucial. A seller doesn’t want to be caught between two houses with furnishings in storage or paying two mortgages at once.
A substantial deposit shows the buyer’s desire for your home, while a small deposit makes it easier for them to walk away. It also may signal that they have very little cash and that they’re stretching to buy the house.
Some sellers are so relieved to receive an offer that they say yes to the first one they get. That’s not necessarily bad, depending on the market.
Some sellers are afraid they won’t get another offer, but if it’s the first weekend on the market, they may want to wait a few days.
For multiple offers, such as is the case in todays market, compare prices and terms to determine which one makes the most sense for your situation. Your agent will negotiate with the buyer’s agent, but you decide what to haggle over.
“It’s always best to negotiate on the least amount of details,” Joe says.
Nick says that if the price is lower than you want, we recommend that your agent go back to the buyer’s agent with a comparative market analysis (CMA) and specifics about your home to show why it’s priced as it is.
“Sometimes sellers think they need a perfect offer and won’t accept one if it’s slightly under the asking price,” Santoro says.
Nick said that he has had sellers who refused to accept an offer very close and or just under list price, only to have it sit on the market for a much longer time than anticipated, only to have an anxious seller panic and accept less money. Time is money as taxes, insurance and utility bills keep mounting. All these things need to be factored into the decision to accept or decline all reasonable offers.
“It’s possible to end up with nothing if a seller gets too greedy,” says Santoro. “If you have a willing and able buyer who can afford to buy your house and is within reason of your listing price, you should try to make it work. If you don’t, you could end up with a lower offer later.”
So all buyer offers are dependent upon many factors as noted above. In addition, there are many factors to consider on the seller side too. Factors such as how long the house is on the market. The amount of work that will need to be done to the house. Market comps. Whether or not the seller is carrying two mortgages or not; their new house and the one they are trying to sell. All of these factors must be considered when making your decision to accept a buyer offer or not.
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For more information on real estate or home downsizing please contact Nick Santoro or Joe Santoro of Personal Property Managers at 215-485-9272 or 908-368-1909. Personal Property Managers specializes in helping home owners transition from their home of many years into a new community. Personal Property Managers services Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers downsizing services, estate sales services, home staging, discount full service real estate services via its association with EveryHome Realty. Learn more about Personal Property Managers from our recent News Stories.