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You Have Gotten an Offer on your MLS Listing. Now what?

Congratulations! You have prepared your real estate for sale and now you have received an offer to buy your home. But what exactly comes next and how should you respond? In this edition of our blog, FlatFee.com will give you some helpful reminders and tips to hopefully seal the deal quickly and allow you to change the status of your listing to pending sale.

When you find a serious buyer of your Alabama or Florida real estate listing, you will receive a written offer to purchase your home. Depending on where you live, this is referred to as an "earnest money contract," "sales contract," or a "residential purchase agreement." Normally this offer will have a written request for you to respond within a certain amount of time, usually 24-48 hours. This is not a lot of time to decide whether you wish to accept the offer or to make a counter offer, so you need to remain informed and ready to negotiate.

You Have Gotten An Offer. Now What?

Do remember that you do not have to accept this offer, especially if it varies greatly from what you have stated in your Flat Rate MLS listing. It is especially important to stay cool, calm and collected if this happens. Try not to allow your excitement or possible stresses to distract you from your end goal – the actual sale of your home.

What Should You See in the Contract Details?

When you receive your residential purchase agreement, you should expect to see a legal contract with a few terms to consider beyond just the actual monetary offer for your Flat Fee MLS listing. You should consider reviewing this agreement with a real estate attorney. These terms may be included:

  • How long the offer will be open to consider
  • Earnest money amount and down payment amount
  • Specific items not included in the MLS listing
  • The street address and legal description of the property
  • The closing date for the sale, as well as your move out date
  • Items to be included in the sale, such as carpeting, lighting fixtures, appliances, etc
  • Terms for the buyer's final walk-through to inspect the home's condition immediately before closing
  • An inspection clause allowing the buyer to have a professional home inspection within several days of the contract date
  • Assurance that you will provide clear title to the property, through an abstract of title, certificate of title or a title insurance policy
  • Who holds the earnest money (usually an escrow agent) and who will be the closing agent and/or escrow agent for closing
  • Terms that you must pay an amount if you do not move out as scheduled; it's usually called "liquidated damages" or payment for use and occupancy of the property
  • Terms for who is responsible for paying expenses related to the property such as utilities, property taxes and homeowners' association fees through the closing date (usually the seller)
  • Contingencies such as the sale depends on the buyer obtaining financing, with return of earnest money if he or she cannot obtain a mortgage, or the sale of the buyer's current home

After you have reviewed the residential purchase agreement, you should also have a real estate attorney available to answer any technical questions you may have and better review if the offer you received is the best one for you.

Counter Offers on Homes for Sale

After you've received the offer to purchase and reviewed the terms, you may propose a counter offer. This can happen for various reasons that we will discuss in a separate blog entry. There usually are a few rounds of counter offering to be had if both the buyer and seller are serious about coming to an agreement. After a few phone calls back-and-forth to your real estate agent and potential buyer, you may move on to the closing on your property.

In summary: After you have found a serious buyer, you will receive a written offer often known as an "earnest money contract," "sales contract," or a "residential purchase agreement." You can either chose to accept the offer, propose a counteroffer, or outright reject the offer. As with any real estate legal situation, be sure to contact a real estate attorney.

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