You've spent the last few months scouring local real estate listings for the perfect home for you and your family. Your agent has likely taken you to dozens upon dozens of homes, and none of them were quite what you were looking for until you saw THE ONE. You've made up your mind that you must have this house. So what's the next step? Making an offer, of course! We'll familiarize you with this process and what you can expect from it so that things go as smoothly as possible for you.

The first and most important thing to remember about making an offer is not to get your hopes up too high. There's always a chance that the seller will reject your offer or will refuse to consider any price except what's beyond your budget. There's also the possibility that the home inspection could turn up a deal breaker and you'll be back to living in your previous home. If you're too emotionally invested, you could end up making a decision that gets you in over your head financially.

Because your offer is a legal document that could become a binding contract the minute the seller accepts it, you should never rush the process of making an offer, especially if you don't have a realtor or a real estate broker there to advise you. Decide the maximum ceiling you are willing to negotiate up to and bid lower so there's some wiggle room. You don't want to do too low, however, because then you risk having the seller reject you outright instead of coming back with a counter offer.

An offer isn't something you make to the sellers over the phone. An offer needs to be drawn up by a legal professional and that means hiring a real estate lawyer. Lawyers are non-negotiable. They're not like realtors. You can buy a house for sale without a realtor if you're savvy but you cannot avoid hiring a real estate lawyer unless you want to leave yourself open to possible legal trouble down the road. Luckily most of them charge by the hour and the average offer doesn't take a lot of time to draw up.

Along with the actual amount of money you're willing to trade for the house there are a lot of other things that need to go into the offer. You need to outline when the closing date will be, who will be expected to pay the closing costs, whether your offer has any conditions attached to it (such as that the house passes a home inspection first), what you want included with the house (for instance most Arlington houses for sale include large appliances like fridges), and how long the seller has to respond to your offer.

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