Here's How to Determine Offer Price When Buying a Home

How to Determine an Offer Price When Buying a House in MN

The moment you have been waiting for has arrived. The home you want to buy has come on the market. You feel like Goldilocks when she lays in the baby bear’s bed. That felt just right.  Unlike Goldy, who proceeded to take a nap, you are ready to rock and roll. It’s time to write an offer, also known as writing a purchase agreement.

The central theme of the offer is the amount you agree to pay to the seller for the property. Your goal is to reach that magical place where deals come together. It’s that sweet price point where the seller receives the amount he wants, and the buyer knows she is not paying too much.

The starting point is the seller’s asking price. Your real estate agent’s job is to help you decide if it is reasonable or too high. Several factors to consider affecting your offer price include a comparable market analysis of homes that have recently sold, market conditions, property conditions and updates, length of time on the market, and seller motivation.

The Comparative Market Analysis or CMA

Your buyers’ agent will pull several months of data on homes that have sold in the exact general location to help you determine a range where your offer price should fall.  Comparison factors will include the number of bedrooms and baths, price per square foot, age of the home, and condition.

When you find comparable properties, you want to compare the sold price to the listing price. Did most homes sell above, below, or at the listing price?

While it is critical to know what comparable properties sold for, it is also essential to look at those that did not sell. Was the price too high for the market? Were alterations made to the home that affected salability?

Another vital piece of data is the number of days comparable properties were on the market before going under contract. Did a home sell quickly at a particular price point or languish on the market for weeks or months?

Local Twin Cities Real Estate Market Conditions

Have your Realtor pull a list of comparable homes on the market in real-time. Consider those that have recently sold and those under contract and pending. Even though this will not tell you the agreed-upon selling price, it will show how fast homes are selling in your area of interest and price range. If few homes are available to purchase, you can conclude the market is competitive, and there may be other offers and a bidding war.

Remember, if you fell in love with this home, chances are others did too! Securing a deal under these circumstances may require you to offer a price on the high end of the range, even if it is above the asking price. The general rule, if it is a seller’s market, you should expect to move quickly and make an offer on the high end of the price range. If a buyer's market offers a price on the low end of the spectrum might be enough for an opening bid.

Condition of the Property

The condition of the home you want to buy strongly influences the price. If it is in move-in condition with an updated kitchen and bath, expect there will be other offers, so come out with your best opening bid. You may not get a second chance.

If you find a fixer up that has good bones and meets all your criteria, you will have an opportunity to purchase it at a lower price than reflects that condition and might be the perfect deal for you. A word of advice, make sure you know what you are taking on and be sure the house is structurally sound.

Length of Time on The Market

When you look at a listing on most real estate websites, you can discover when a property has been on the market. But what you won’t find out is if it has been listed previously, either with the same agency or a different one. Your agent can get that information for you.

If the home you want to buy has been on the market for a long time, you may wish to bid on the lower side of the price range. If it has been previously listed and didn’t sell, you know it is overpriced. In situations like this one, your agent’s experience and knowledge are invaluable. Seek guidance.

How Motivated is the Seller

There are times when the homeowner has a solid motivation to sell quickly. For instance, perhaps they are moving out of town or state for a new job. Maybe they already bought their next home and want to avoid paying two mortgages or maintaining two residences. Perhaps there is a divorce or financial problems that make it necessary to sell quickly.

Those factors mentioned above may inspire a seller to take a lower offer and sell sooner than later. Or it may not. Each situation is unique. However, knowing more is better than not knowing enough about the sellers and their reasons for listing their homes.

As you work through writing your offer, always remember the goal is to put together a deal that benefits you and the seller. Final thoughts; analyze the data, ask the right questions, consider your options and make an offer that fits into your predetermined budget. Most importantly, listen to your agent and let him guide you through the process so you can sleep in the house that is just right for many nights to come! 

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