Step 7: Making an offer to buy the home

When you find a house that you like and want to buy, it’s time to make an offer. The reason it’s called the “offer” is that, most of the time, you offer to pay less what the seller is asking or you want different terms. Making an offer on a home can seem like a mysterious and intimidating process. And while there can indeed be many ups and downs along the way, most home offers follow a similar pattern.

Initial Offer: Once you find the right home, you’ll make an offer on the property. Usually, the offer paperwork will be drawn up by your agent or attorney. Most sellers will not accept an offer unless you’re pre-approved for a loan. Your agent will perform a comparative market analysis to help determine an offer price.

Seller Response: Your initial offer will usually include a deadline by which the seller must respond. This deadline may vary from a few hours to 1-2 days, depending on how aggressive your offer is. The seller may respond by agreeing to your offer, making a counter-offer, or rejecting your offer outright.

Negotiations: If the seller counters your original offer, it’s usually because they want more money or a faster timeline for closing the deal. Your agent or attorney will negotiate on your behalf to get you the best deal possible. You may come to a quick agreement, or you may go back and forth with the seller for many rounds of negotiations. During this stage, either party may walk away from the deal at any time.

Mutual Acceptance: Once you and the seller agree on price and terms, you’ll both sign the purchase contract. In most locations, you’ll now submit a check for your earnest-money deposit. You and the seller are now contractually obligated to complete the deal, unless a contingency of the sale is not satisfied.


Rejection: Home offers do get rejected, and many buyers go through multiple rejections before finally landing the right home. It can be demoralizing to lose a home, especially if you’ve already gotten emotionally attached to a home you tried to buy. But these experiences can be an important opportunity to learn, refocus on what’s important, and refine your offer process.

Deciding on an Offer Price

When you work with a real estate agent to buy a home, they will help you decide on an opening offer price. In most cases, your agent will do a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) on your behalf to make sure the offer you submit is fair, competitive, and in line with your negotiation strategy. However, anytime you are seriously interested in a home, you can do a CMA of your own to decide if its current market value is within striking distance of what you’re willing to pay.

Negotiating Your Offer

When you make an offer on a home, it can pay to have a clear idea of your strategy from the very beginning. Do you start low and let the seller try to talk you up? Do you fight for every little point, never yielding an inch? Is there such a thing as a guaranteed winning strategy?

When it comes to buying a home, there are never guarantees. Every home purchase is different, and even the best negotiators get outmaneuvered once in a while.

Remember: Your Agent is Your Negotiator

If you’ve done your homework selecting an agent, you should have faith in his or her ability to carry out negotiations on your behalf. An experienced agent has dealt with hundreds of negotiations, and may have worked with the seller’s listing agent on several occasions. You should be clear about your desired outcome, but you’ll ultimately be trusting your agent to protect your best interests.

How We Can Help

Buying a house is the largest financial investment you will probably make, so you want to make sure you’ve done your homework and are prepared to take that next step. It may be a great option and a good long-term investment, but only if you’re ready for the financial commitment and responsibility of homeownership.

Homeownership has changed and every homebuyer needs to know the new rules. Whether you are looking for a first home or getting back into the market, today’s homebuyers have to be more prepared and armed with information. The Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) is here to help as you navigate through this complex process. Our housing counselors provide pre-purchase counseling and homebuyer education.


Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) can connect you with a HUD approved housing counselor that will conduct an analysis of your financial picture, help you understand the financial requirements and responsibilities of homeownership, and advise you on affordability and mortgage readiness. If you are financially ready to purchase a home, the counselor can guide you toward resources that can help you in the process. If you are not financially ready the counselor can help your prepare for homeownership.

Homebuyer Education

Quality homebuyer’s education is the foundation of successful homeownership. It explains the entire process in easy-to-understand terms and provides you with a basic level of understanding of the home purchase process, the steps involved and the requirements and responsibilities of homeownership. Either in-person or online, taking a homebuyer education workshop helps prepare you for long term homeownership success! People who complete a homebuyer education course are 10 times less likely to go into foreclosure.* They are empowered to ask the right questions, they understand what they can afford, and they recognize their responsibilities.

HPF is happy to partner with the Minnesota Homeownership Center and the Housing Partnership Network to offer you Framework—an online homebuyer education program. This high quality, interactive experience will ensure that you are a smart, confident and successful homeowner. Framework provides the facts you need to become well-informed about every step in the process. It also meets National Industry Standards and all HUD Housing Counseling Program requirements.

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