As a first time homebuyer in the Lake Norman area, you’ve decided how much house you can afford, and you’ve shopped for and found the home of your dreams. Now it’s time for making an offer on your first home.
A smart homebuyer knows that working with an experienced real estate agent is key throughout the process, but especially when it comes to making an offer on your first home. Trust us when we tell you, making an offer involves much more than a purchase price. A great real estate agent knows that.
As you begin the process of making an offer on your first home, you want to consider these key elements of the offer: the price, the terms, the inspection, and the money. Each of these elements is a critical piece of the home buying puzzle.
Key Elements of Making An Offer On Your First Home
Making an offer on your first home seems like a pretty straight forward process. The seller has listed how much they want to get for their home, and you know how much you want to pay for it. You make your offer, they accept it, deal done, now settle in and live the good life, right?
It’s a little more involved than that.
First and foremost, you want to work with a local area expert. In the Lake Norman area, that’s Cloninger Properties. A local expert knows the ins and outs of the local market, has readily determined comparable properties in the area, and knows exactly how much you should offer for your first home. There’s no real “general rule” as to how much less than the asking price a seller is willing to take, but your agent can help you make that determination.
In addition to comparable properties, there are certain conditions your agent can help you discover that will help you measure the seller’s motivation to sell. Examples include how long the property has been on the market, knowing why the seller is selling (have they already been relocated, have they already bought a new home, etc.), or discovering how much equity the seller may have in the home.
The more you know about the market, the property, and the seller, the more you know about what type of offer to make. Your agent can help you discover all this!
There is more to making an offer on your first home than just the price. Sellers are often very focused on getting as close to their asking price as possible. Their focus on that number is a bonus to you as the buyer. There are any number of requests you can make that are not related to the asking price of the home. Examples include:
- Seller’s contribution to closing costs
- Seller providing a home warranty for one year
- Asking the seller to include certain appliances or home furnishings
- Seller paying the first year’s HOA
We even know of a buyer who asked for all the furnishings in the home to be left, including the pictures on the wall and the dishes in the cabinets. (Talk about move-in ready!)
Every home you purchase, including a brand new construction home, should be inspected by a professional home inspector. There should be a contingency in the terms portion of your contract that allows you, the buyer, to either request the seller to make necessary repairs, or to walk away from the contract if the seller refuses to make necessary repairs (or at the very least this should be an area of negotiation).
As a part of these inspections you should receive a disclosure from the seller. They are required by law to tell you of any known defects in the home. Failure to be honest about their disclosure is an immediate opportunity for a buyer to walk away from a contract.
In this series on first time homebuyers, we have talked a lot about money and mortgages. For good reason—this is a very important part of the contract. As a buyer, you want to work with an experienced mortgage agent. On the contract, you will include how much money you plan to borrow, what interest rate you expect to pay, and how many years you expect your mortgage to last. If any of these factors cannot be met, your contract should include an opportunity for you to walk away from the purchase. Of course, if you’ve done your homework in advance, like we talked about here, there won’t be any surprises in this part of the contract.
As you are thinking about making an offer on your first home, we have one final piece of advice. Of course you are in love with the home. If not, you wouldn’t be buying it. Just make sure you don’t let your love for the property lead you into a purchase that may not be in your best interest long term. Choose an agent you trust, one whose advice you will listen to during this process, and then let them represent you well.
Keep it real,
The Cloninger Properties Team