How Do I Buy A Home? (3 of 3)

In the real estate industry, talk is worth the paper it's written on. In the state of California, the Statue of Frauds mandates that any offer to purchase real property be made in writing.

Writing an Offer

How do you submit an offer, what form does it take, how much should you offer, what can the seller pay for, what can the buyer pay for, how long should you wait for an answer, what are Mediation and Arbitration, what is liquidated damages, do I need to make a deposit, how much deposit, how long should the transaction take to complete, do I need title insurance, do I need a pest control clearance, can I have appropriate professionals inspect the property, who will certify the well and the roof and the septic system?

All these items and more should be addressed in a properly drafted purchase contract. Typically I will give a copy of our purchase contract to my clients ahead of time for their review before writing an offer. Some clients will question every paragraph in the contract, others place their faith in my judgement. Each property is unique, even homes within a subdivision with the same floor plan. Therefore, each offer to purchase is unique. Feel comfortable that your agent is treating your offer as such. Many people in the business haven't kept their skills current and may not totally safeguard your interests. This is usually an error of omission rather than something more sinister.

Be comfortable with your offer before it is submitted. Before the offer is presented is the time to ask questions. If there is any disagreement later on, the purchase contract will govern what happens. Having said that, I must confess that any buyer so fluent with the purchase contract should be a real estate professional. The current (9/97) California Association of Realtors® (CAR) Residential Purchase Agreement is printed on five legal size pages in pretty small print. If you are interested in the obtaining this contract contact CAR at or call the local Association of Realtors® in your area.

Now you have written your offer, the offer has to be delivered to the seller. Many buyers agents are taught to personally deliver the contract to the seller and make a grand show about how WONDERFUL the buyers are and how GREAT their company is and how TERRIFIC they are as agents and how MUCH they love their kids. This is bunk, a seller only cares about two things, how much and when.

Once the offer has been presented to the seller the real fun begins. The seller has three choices, he can accept it as written (this is the worse for the buyers, they will think they paid too much), he can reject it (this is the result of either the seller or the buyer not being realistic), or he can Counter the offer (most likely).

Counter offers can be numerous, it is not unusual to have two or three Counters. Our practice is to write as many as needed to better define the wishes of the principles. Once we have a meeting of the minds, then we'll rewrite a contract to incorporate all the various clauses into one contract. This is done to make the transaction clearer to all involved and to save a tree or two.

Once the offer and any counters are accepted by the seller and delivered to the buyer it's time for the buyers to experience Buyers Remorse and the sellers to suffer Sellers Remorse.

Buyers Remorse takes many forms and stems from the fact the buyers are uncertain that they made the right decision. Sleepless nights and petty bickering are common symptoms. Nagging doubts about every aspect of the purchase are very common and your Realtor® doubles as a psychologist this time (and you thought this was an easy business).

Sellers remorse has similar symptoms and stems from the realization that sellers are really going to move and leave family and friends behind or that they sold too cheaply.

In any event, neither of these afflictions last too long. The deal has been struck and there's lots of work to do.

On to Escrow