Making an Offer

When you have chosen the home that you want to make an offer on, you first need to decide how much to offer. Then your buyer's agent will prepare a written contract that sets out how much you are offering, together with any other contingencies and conditions that you require.

It is important to be aware that this contract will be legally binding on you if the seller agrees to your terms and signs it. You do not have the option of withdrawing your offer later without losing your deposit, unless the contract includes contingencies that allow you to do so under certain conditions.

The main features of the offer, as set out in the contract, are as follows:

  • The price you are offering.

  • The amount of the good faith deposit that you will put into escrow.

  • The date that you wish to close on the purchase.

  • Any financing or other contingency - for example, if you want to make the purchase conditional on being able to obtain a mortgage at acceptable terms.

  • Any other conditions that you require, for example that the furnishings be included in the sale, that advance bookings convey, etc.

  • The amount that the seller will be committed to spend to put right any defects identified by the home inspection.

The contract that your buyer's agent will most likely use to present your offer to the seller's agent is a standard form, called the FAR/BAR Contract for Sale and Purchase.

This is a form of contract that has been approved by the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR) and the Florida Bar.

You should make sure that everyone whose name will appear on the title deed to the property is included on the contract, and that each purchaser signs the contract.

Your buyer's agent will work through the contract with you, explain what each section means, and make sure that you understand everything that you are committing yourself to by signing it. You should not sign until you are sure that you understand every aspect of the contract.

When you have signed the offer, your agent will transmit it to the seller's agent, who will in turn make the seller aware of it. The seller then has a period of time as specified in the contract (usually two days) in which to respond by accepting the offer, rejecting it, or coming back with a counter-offer.

If the seller does not accept your offer within the stated time, or if he comes back with a counter-offer, the original offer is 'dead'. If the seller has put a counter-offer on the table the ball is now in your court. You in turn can reject it, accept it, or counter back with a compromise offer.

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