Who Delivers Your Offer to the Seller, And What Happens Next?

If you are thinking about buying a home, and you found the perfect place, and received pre-approval for your mortgage financing, then it is time to submit your offer. But how does this happen? What does it look like? And who submits it?

Buying a new home is stressful no matter how prepared you are for the process. You don’t always know what’s happening behind closed doors, on private phone calls between other parties, or during those long days without any word from anyone. It’s normal to have questions. 

Who are the key players in a real estate offer?

In a real estate offer, who delivers the offer to the seller relies heavily on who the key players are in the offer process. The key players in this process typically involve, much like a legal case, representation from both sides. Only, when it comes to buying a house, the key players are two real estate agents and not two attorneys. Each side usually has an agent: the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent. 

  1. Buyer’s Agent

The buyer’s agent is the person there to help you find your home, prepare your offer, negotiate the final agreement, and close the sale on your behalf. 

  1. Seller’s Agent

Seller’s agents are there on behalf of the person selling the home, and their job is to be the listing agent, market the home, and negotiate with potential buyers like you. 

There are a few situations in which the same agent works for both parties. However, this is not legal in some states. 

How do you prepare an offer?

Preparing an offer takes time. Your offer to the seller is your opportunity to leave a good impression with the seller and the seller’s agent. Remember, the seller’s agent represents the seller and their job is to get a good deal for the seller, and offer market-based advice on buyers. 

In your offer you typically have:

  1. The purchase price, or the price you are proposing to the seller;
  2. Any contingencies related to the sale
    1. This can include a sale contingency for financing approval from a third-party financial institution.
    2. It might include a sale contingency related to inspections, especially if you are buying free standing property and want inspections of land, structures, and so forth.
    3. You could also include a sale contingency on appraisals, making sure you have a third party appraise the property’s value to ensure it matches the proposed purchase price.
  3. Requests from the seller
    1. This can include the amount you want the seller to pay for the closing costs, especially if you’re buying from co-op apartment listing agents or condo listing agents who have a high closing cost in addition to the upfront HOA (homeowner’s association) fees. 
    2. You might request that they leave behind specific appliances – usually this is when they move everything but not unattached furniture, or they leave the washer/dryer or maybe the refrigerator or stove. 
    3. Other requests might include making repairs or replacements on things that are visibly damaged, such as holes in the roof, broken door trim, a sagging front porch, or old carpet. 
    4. A home warranty might also find its way into your requests. 
  4. A timeline
    1. Here you might include a date the seller must respond to the offer.
    2. You can highlight the date you plan to close on the property.
    3. Include the date your current home will close if the sale of your current home is a sale contingency.
    4. Note when the seller must leave the property.

You might also want to include in the letter a personal touch to incentivize your offer to the seller. You can include something about who you are and what the property means to you. Maybe you can say how you grew up in this particular town and now that you’re starting a family of your own, you want to return to raise your children in the same supportive and community-based environment. Remember, they are getting a lot of offers, maybe dozens, and you should do what you can to stand out. 

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How do you present an offer to a seller?

There are different ways to send the offer. Most of the time, it’s emailed to the listing agent or the seller. A real estate agent might call or text the other agent to inform them the offer is being prepared so they know to look for it. In some cases, it gets handed to the listing agent or seller in person. 

Who delivers my offer to the seller?

This depends entirely on whether you’re working with an agent or doing things yourself. 

  • If you have a professional working for you, then they submit the offer to the listing agent for the home you want to buy. 
  • If you are handling the sale entirely on your own, then you can submit your offer to the listing agent. 

What does your real estate agent include in your offer to the seller?

If you have a real estate agent, then they deliver the offer. They email (or use some other electronic means) it with any supporting documentation to the listing agent. After that, the listing agent reviews it and sends it to the seller. 

If you are working without a real estate agent, then you do the same. You submit your offer to the listing agent who then sends it to the seller. 

Now, there are situations when you are handling things yourself or you have a real estate agent, but the seller does not. This is referred to as an FSBO, or “For Sale By Owner” situation. If the seller is working on their own, then you (or your agent) would submit directly to them. 

The real estate offer process

The process of submitting your offer can be done with an agent or on your own. 

Step 1: Gather any supporting documentation

This includes financial statements, a pre-approval letter from a bank or a mortgage company for your financing of the mortgage (pre-approval means your financial institution has looked at your finances and agreed to a loan if you purchase the home), and proof of funds like a personal financial statement if you are instead purchasing without a lender.

You might want to include a short biography so the seller gets an idea of who you are, especially if you are not there to meet with them in person. You can include a letter to the seller if you want as well. 

Step 2: Work with an attorney or agent

Have your representative look over all the documents, including your offer. Some states, like New York, require a real estate attorney for contracts like a housing offer. 

Step 3: Submit the offer

Only after all the supporting documents are together do you submit the offer. 

What is the next step in the real estate offer process?

After you submit your regular or customized offer submission form, or your agent does it on your behalf, then you wait. 

Now, part of the reason you want to customize your offer is so that it includes a timeline so your seller will respond within your timeframe. This creates a sense of urgency. Under normal circumstances, a seller should take up to two days to review your offer, think about it, and either accept it or submit a counteroffer. However, if there is a housing shortage, then you might hear back within hours. 

For example, in Northern California, there is typically a housing shortage after a major fire, because people have lost their homes in the fire. As such, after the fire season, people often move to a nearby town. There is also high employment in the area and large incomes in the electronics industry, which lead to extremely competitive bidding. Also, those who are retiring or moving into assisted living will sell their homes to new buyers as soon as possible.

For many people entering assisted living, they want to sell their homes quickly because they often get put on a waiting list, and once they are picked, they need to move into the facility ASAP, which is often contingent on the sale of their home. So, if you present a decent offer at the asking price, they are likely to accept immediately and might have already started the process of moving out. 

If they accept your original offer, then you are officially under contract, which means the offer becomes a purchase agreement and is considered a legally binding document. You schedule a home inspection, finish securing your financing, and then move into your new home. 

Now, things might not be that advantageous for you. Under less stressful market conditions, your seller might take two to three days to respond and instead of accepting your offer, they might send a counteroffer, or a counter-proposal to what you sent. 

If this happens, the seller prepares the counteroffer, gives it to the listing agent, and their listing agent gives it to you or your agent. Then, you get to review the details and discuss whether you accept. 

Why would they submit a counteroffer?

There are plenty of reasons why a seller might submit a counteroffer. For example, you might have sent an offer based on an appraisal of the property’s value that was lower than the listing price. In this case, the seller might have a reason for wanting, at minimum, the listing price and the counteroffer might include that.  

It’s quite common for people to get very attached to the list price, especially if they have lived in that home for a long time, made modifications over the course of a lifetime, raised their kids in it, or have some other emotional connection. Don’t take it personally, feel free to withdraw your original offer or to counter the counteroffer with something that is still less than the asking price  but perhaps higher than what you originally proposed. 

Similarly, one of your sale contingencies might have been that the seller pay for the taxes and fees, but they are proposing you pay the taxes and fees in exchange for their repairing minor damage to the property.

Conclusions: So, who delivers the offer to the seller?

In the end, who delivers your offer to the seller comes down to whether you are handling the process on your own or with help. On your own, then it is your job. With help from an agent, then it is their job. 

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