6 things to expect after you make an offer on a house (2024)

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6 things to expect after you make an offer on a house (1)

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  • The timeline between making an offer and closing on a home is typically about 45 days.
  • The seller accepts your offer and takes the house off the market when you make an earnest money deposit.
  • You'll schedule an inspection while the lender takes care of the appraisal and title search.
  • This article is part of "The Road to Home" series focused on helping first-time homebuyers navigate the daunting and exhilarating process of purchasing a home.

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Making an offer is one of the most exciting parts of buying a home, but it's not the end of the line. You, the seller, and your mortgage lender still have to take several steps before you can close on the house and receive the keys.

1. The seller responds to your offer

The seller should get back to you within a few days, and there are three potential responses: an acceptance, rejection, or counteroffer.

The seller might ask for more money, a larger earnest money deposit, or a specific date for the buyer to take ownership. If you aren't happy with the seller's counteroffer, you can respond with your own counter-proposals until you reach an agreement.

Christian Ross, managing broker for Engel & Völkers Atlanta, says any counteroffer negotiations should take one or two days, but it could be longer if there's a lot of back-and-forths. When the seller accepts your offer and everyone signs the documents, then you have a binding contract.

2. Make an earnest money deposit

You'll make an earnest money deposit, also called a good faith deposit, after signing the contract.

An earnest money deposit is like a security deposit. You put an agreed-upon amount — usually 1% to 2% of the home purchase price — into an escrow account, and the seller will take the house off the market.

If all goes according to plan and you end up closing on the house, your earnest money deposit will go toward your total down payment. For example, you put 2% toward the earnest money deposit, then pay 3% at closing for a 5% down payment in total.

Under certain circumstances, you may be able to keep your deposit if you decide not to close. Your contract likely has home-buying contingencies or standards that must be met for you to close on the home. An appraisal contingency might state that you can legally pull out of the contract if the appraisal shows that the home is worth less than the purchase price. In this case, you would walk away with your deposit.

However, if you decide not to buy for a reason not covered in the contract, you might lose your earnest money.

3. Schedule a home inspection

After making the earnest money deposit, you are responsible for scheduling a home inspection. An inspector does a full assessment of the home's condition, from the roof to the HVAC system, to the foundation, and everything in between. They'll tell you about any issues so you can decide whether you still want to move forward in the homebuying process.

Some people may waive the inspection, particularly in a competitive market, to make their offers more attractive to the seller. This is a valid but risky option. An inspection may reveal large-scale problems that would cost you time and money.

Ross says that large firms typically get to your home within a couple of days. They should submit the report the same day or morning after their walk-through.

"Inspections are usually three hours," Ross says. "If you can, go at least for the last 30 minutes or hour, just so you can get an idea of what they think are the challenges with the property or things that they want you to be mindful of."

4. A professional appraises the home

An appraisal is different from an inspection. Appraisers determine the value of a property by looking at the location, size, and safety issues. While an inspection is mainly for your benefit, an appraisal helps the lender know how much the home is worth.

The lender sets up an appraisal around the same time that you schedule an inspection. However, it will probably take longer for an appraiser to get to your house.

"As soon as you go under contract, because appraisals are so backed up, your lender is already scheduling your appraisal," Ross says. "As soon as you're putting your earnest money down, the lender's going to ask for payment for the appraisal."

Ross says four days is the quickest an appraiser can complete their report after the appraisal, but it will probably take several days longer.

5. The lender schedules a title search

While you're scheduling an inspection and waiting on the appraisal, the lender contacts a title company to complete a title search.

A title search is the process of looking at historical records of the seller and their property to ensure the seller has the legal right to transfer the home to you. For example, if the owner hasn't been paying property taxes or homeowner's association dues, they need to resolve the problem before you can close.

6. Close on the home

Once you've settled any issues revealed by the inspection, appraisal, or title search, the lender approves you to close on the home.

You'll usually sign closing documents in person, although some lenders allow you to close digitally. The process should take a couple of hours. You'll bring cash for the remainder of your down payment and any closing costs. You'll receive a closing disclosure three days before closing, which will include the amount of money to bring.

How long does it take to close on a house?

The amount of time it takes to buy a house can vary quite a lot depending on how competitive the market is.

"From the offer to closing — in a typical market — I would say it takes 45 days," says Ross.

In a highly competitive market, however, it could take much longer because you might have to make multiple offers before one is accepted. From the time you make your first of several offers, Ross says it could be as long as five or six months before you finally close on one.

Buying a home can be a long, multi-step process, and the waiting period between the time you make an offer and when you take ownership can cause quite a bit of stress and anxiety. Understanding the process involved and your role in it can relieve a lot of that. Then you can better enjoy the sense of pride and accomplishment that accompanies becoming a homeowner.

Laura Grace Tarpley, CEPF

Personal Finance Reviews Editor

Laura Grace Tarpley (she/her) is a personal finance reviews senior editor at Insider. She oversees coverage about mortgage rates, refinance rates, lenders, bank accounts, investing, retirement , and borrowing and savings tips for Personal Finance Insider. She was a writer and editor for Insider's "The Road to Home" series, which won a Silver award from the National Associate of Real Estate Editors. She is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF). She has written about personal finance for seven years. Before joining the Insider team, she was a freelance finance writer for companies like SoFi and The Penny Hoarder, as well as an editor at FluentU. You can reach Laura Grace at ltarpley@insider.com. Learn more about how Personal Finance Insider chooses, rates, and covers financial products and services »

6 things to expect after you make an offer on a house (2024)


What to expect after putting an offer on a house? ›

“If your offer is accepted, the sale process begins, a deposit is made within three days, and inspections and appraisal are typically completed within 17 days,” says broker Brandon Brown. “Loan approval is then completed before 21 days, with the closing of the property happening around day 30.”

What is the rule of thumb when making an offer on a home? ›

The rule of thumb is usually between 5 and 10 percent of the home price. Bear in mind that you could lose the money if the deal falls through, so it's important not to put up so much that you'd be ruined if you lost the cash.

What are the steps after offer? ›

11 Things To Do Once The Seller Accepts Your Offer
  • Deposit Earnest Money. ...
  • Secure A Home Loan. ...
  • Have The Home Inspected. ...
  • Have The Home Appraised. ...
  • Review The Title. ...
  • Transfer The Utilities. ...
  • Obtain Homeowners Insurance. ...
  • Schedule Home Repairs.
Feb 23, 2023

How long does it take to hear back from an offer on a house? ›

Legally speaking, there isn't a time frame sellers must respond to your offer. However, it's an unspoken rule in the industry that sellers and/or the listing agents should respond within a few days, with 48 hours the norm.

Can a seller ask for more money after accepting an offer? ›

Yes. Imagine a situation where the seller got multiple full-price offers and is setting up for a bidding war. That seller might counter all of the appealing full-price offers, asking each suitor for a best and final bid, or request a specified higher price.

Why do sellers wait to accept offers? ›

There are quite a few reasons why a seller might take longer than usual to respond to your offer. The first is if they received multiple offers. “Typically, response time increases if there is more than one offer on the table,” says Ross. “Sellers may take their time to choose which offer is best for them.”

What makes a house offer more appealing? ›

Make Your Offer As Clean As Possible

A clean, no-contingency offer means you're waiving all contingencies to make your bid a bit more competitive and appealing to the seller. A clean offer shouldn't be contingent on the sale of another property or have other financial constraints.

What two things should you do before you make an offer on a home? ›

9 things to do before making an offer on a house
  1. Have your cash ready.
  2. Get prequalified/pre-approved for a mortgage.
  3. Do some (more) research.
  4. Run the expenses through your budget.
  5. Take another walk through the house.
  6. Get a home inspection.
  7. Talk to the neighbors.
  8. Evaluate the commute to work.

How do I make my offer stand out when buying a house? ›

Once you find a property you want to buy, and draft your purchase offer, consider these things that could convince a seller to accept.
  1. Make sure the price is right. ...
  2. Show proof of pre-qualification. ...
  3. Offer more earnest money. ...
  4. Waive certain contingencies. ...
  5. Include an escalation clause. ...
  6. Limit your asks for extras.

What are the 3 requirements of an offer? ›

In order for an offer to be considered valid, it must meet the following requirements:
  • Must be communicated.
  • Must be made with the purpose of obtaining the assent of the other party.
  • Must be capable of establishing legal relation, meaning that consideration must be a two-way process.

What is the best date to close on a house? ›

If you need to be occupying your home by a certain date to save on rent, it's a much better deal to close at the end of the previous month (for example, January 30) instead of the beginning of the current month (February 1).

What comes after an offer? ›

After getting a job offer, you can immediately accept, immediately deny or you can negotiate. “What I recommend doing is asking the hiring manager or whoever you get your offer from for a day or two so that you can review the offer.”

Do sellers have to respond to an offer? ›

Although it may seem like a bad way to do business, the fact is that a seller doesn't have to respond to an offer. The seller or the seller's listing agent may “acknowledge” receipt of your offer, but that's not the same thing as responding to it.

What happens when a seller rejects an offer? ›

Typically, when a seller rejects your offer they come back with a counteroffer to potentially negotiate a deal what works better for them. If your offer is rejected without counter, it might mean that your offer was too low to be considered by the seller.

How long should I expect to hear back after a counter offer? ›

A reasonable amount of time to respond to a counter offer is within 24-48 hours. This allows the employer to make a well-informed decision and also shows respect for the candidate's time. It might take a few days in certain situations, like when a budget needs to be approved.

Do sellers ever accept first offer? ›

Real estate agents often suggest that sellers either accept the first offer or at least give it serious consideration. Real estate agents around the world generally go by the same mantra when discussing the first offer that a seller receives on their home: “The first offer is always your best offer.”

Do sellers always go with the highest offer? ›

No, the seller is under no obligation to accept any offer. And if the market is a strong seller's market, they are likely to wait for offers that are above asking price. Can a seller counter a “highest and best” offer? Yes, the seller can counter at any time during the negotiation process.

What happens if a seller accepts two offers? ›

Are they accepting two contractual estate offers and negotiating two contracts in parallel? The issue is not legal or illegal in the home-buying process: it's meaningless. A seller cannot get another offer if the listing becomes “in contract.” A home is “in contract” after the buyer and the seller signed the contract.

Is the first offer always the best offer? ›

Casey Napolitano, real estate agent, broker and founder of NDA Real Estate in Southern California, says the first offer is usually the best, but every situation is unique and sellers should assess the strength of the offer before making a decision. But there could also be drawbacks.

When should you not accept an offer? ›

When to Turn Down a Job Offer: 11 Red Flags
  1. The Salary Isn't Right. ...
  2. It Takes Forever to Get Benefits. ...
  3. It Doesn't Offer What You Want. ...
  4. There's No Clear Path. ...
  5. The Job Duties Are Mysterious. ...
  6. There's a Revolving Door. ...
  7. You Don't Like the Mission. ...
  8. The Hiring Process Was Subpar.

Why are sellers not accepting my offer? ›

If your home purchase offer was rejected, it was likely for a reason involving money. Your offer price may have been too low or too high, or they may have simply received a better offer. Other reasons could include the listing agreement commission structure, specific contract requirements, or personal reasons.

How do you win the highest and best offer? ›

5 Tips For Home Buyers Submitting Their Highest And Best Offer
  1. Enlist The Help Of A Skilled Real Estate Agent. ...
  2. Make Your Offer Irresistible. ...
  3. Get Your Initial Mortgage Approval. ...
  4. Consider Including An Escalation Clause. ...
  5. Respond As Quickly As Possible.
Jun 8, 2023

Can you ask what the highest offer is on a house? ›

Asking for a highest and best offer might push the buyer closer to your target sales price, because it shows there's real interest in the property. In negotiations, buyers won't typically start with their highest offer with the goal of leaving a little wiggle room.

How do you win a house negotiation? ›

Real Estate Negotiation Tactics
  1. Show Your Cards Second. ...
  2. Use Inclusions. ...
  3. Connect Personally Through Letter Writing. ...
  4. Use Affirming Language. ...
  5. Facial Expressions and Body Language Will Set the Tone. ...
  6. Start Close to the Market Value. ...
  7. Research Everything. ...
  8. Control Emotions and Stay Positive.

How do you know if a house is overpriced? ›

5 Signs That A House Is Overpriced
  1. It Doesn't Match The Price Of Similar Listings. ...
  2. It's Been On The Market For A Long Time. ...
  3. The List Price Doesn't Align With The State Of The Home. ...
  4. The Price Doesn't Match Your Calculations. ...
  5. The Home Hasn't Received Much Attention.
May 9, 2023

How do you make the best offer on a house with multiple offers? ›

How to Get an Offer Accepted on a House with Multiple Offers
  1. Present an offer with no contingencies. ...
  2. Offer a larger down payment and earnest money deposit. ...
  3. Add an escalation clause. ...
  4. Waive the appraisal contingency. ...
  5. Present an all-cash offer. ...
  6. Position yourself as flexible. ...
  7. Write a personal letter to the seller.
Jul 8, 2022

How to make an offer on a house without insulting the seller? ›

Lowballing 101: How to Avoid Insulting a Home Seller when Making a Low Offer for Their House or Condo
  1. Make a List of Necessary Improvements. ...
  2. Explain Any Issues with the Location. ...
  3. Provide Pricing for Comparable Homes in the Area. ...
  4. Consider the Seller's Reasons for Selling.

Which offer would be the most appealing to a seller? ›

All-Cash Buyer

A cash offer is usually more appealing than a finance offer as the seller doesn't need to worry about whether the bank will approve your loan,” says Sam Heskel, president of Nadlan Valuation, an appraisal management company in Brooklyn, New York.

How do you make an attractive contingent offer? ›

Make an Offer Like a Boss
  1. #1 Know Your Limits. Your agent will help you craft a winning offer. ...
  2. #2 Learn to Speak "Contract" ...
  3. #3 Set Your Price. ...
  4. #4 Figure Out Your Down Payment. ...
  5. #5 Show the Seller You're Serious: Make a Deposit. ...
  6. #6 Review the Contingency Plans. ...
  7. #7 Read the Fine Print About the Property. ...
  8. #8 Make a Date to Settle.

What are the 4 items an offer should contain? ›

There are four elements of a contract, in order to have a valid contract, all four must be present:
  • Offer.
  • Acceptance.
  • Consideration.
  • Capacity.

What are the two rules of offer? ›

There must be communication of acceptance from the offeree's side. You can withdraw an offer any time before it's accepted. Only the person to whom the offer is made can accept it. You are not bound by an acceptance made by someone else on behalf of the offeree without his authorization.

What are the five requirements of a valid offer? ›

The five requirements for creating a valid contract are an offer, acceptance, consideration, competency and legal intent.

What not to do while closing? ›

5 Things NOT to Do During the Closing Process
  1. DO NOT CHANGE YOUR MARITAL STATUS. How you hold title is affected by your marital status. ...

How long after closing is first payment due? ›

When Is Your First Mortgage Payment Due After Closing? The first mortgage payment is typically due on the first of the month, one full month (30 days) after the closing date. Monthly mortgage installments are paid in arrears, meaning you'll be making payments for the month prior rather than the current month.

What not to do the week before closing on a house? ›

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Closing on a Mortgage
  1. Opening a New Line of Credit.
  2. Making a Large Purchase on Your Credit Card.
  3. Quitting or Changing Your Job.
  4. Ignoring Your Closing Schedule.
  5. Forgetting to Pay Bills.
Jun 29, 2022

What is the first offer rule? ›

A right of first offer (ROFO) is a contractual obligation that allows the holder to purchase an asset before the owner tries to sell it to someone else. If the right holder is no longer interested in the property, the seller can then sell it to a third party.

What is an offer rule? ›

A promise to do or refrain from doing something in exchange for something else. An offer must be stated and delivered in a way that would lead a reasonable person to expect a binding contract to arise from its acceptance.

What should an offer include? ›

An offer letter typically includes the following information:
  • Job title and description.
  • Salary or wage range (and annualized salary)
  • Benefits (including health insurance) and other perks (like paid time off or bonuses)
  • Signing bonus amount (if applicable)

Can a seller reject a full price offer? ›

A seller is not bound to accept any offer, even at full price. However, your seller could be in breach of your listing agreement by refusing to accept the full-price offer.

Do sellers always counter offer? ›

When a seller gets a lowball offer, or an unreasonably low offer on the house, they should always counter. For the seller, the act of countering an offer tells the buyer that they're still interested in selling to them if they improve the terms of their deal.

Can a seller change their mind if they accept your offer? ›

Can a seller pull out after accepting an offer? If there is an available contingency in the contract, the buyer can't secure funding, or there is fraud on the part of the buyer, the seller may usually cancel the contract. You may also cancel the sale during the attorney review period.

Can a seller change their mind after refusing an offer? ›

Yes, a seller can back out of a contract under certain circumstances. But you must show that you've upheld the conditions in the purchase agreement or face consequences.

What happens to earnest money if seller rejects offer? ›

It's held in escrow as a show of good faith that you're interested in purchasing the home. If your bid wins, your earnest money is deducted from the amount you owe at closing. If the seller rejects your offer, your earnest money should be returned.

How do you respond to a house offer? ›

How to Successfully Respond to Home Offers
  1. Consider the Buyer's Situation. If a buyer makes an offer below your asking price, consider the situation from their perspective before deciding how to respond. ...
  2. The Best Buyer Isn't Always the Highest Offer. ...
  3. Try to Get More Than One Offer. ...
  4. Emphasize What's Positive.

What should I ask for in a counter offer? ›

Ask if there is any flexibility in the starting (or future) salary. Consider perks you may be able to negotiate in addition to or instead of extra salary. Turn down the offer, realizing that the company may not make a counteroffer. Create an opportunity for more discussion.

What do you say when accepting a counter offer? ›

Tips for accepting the counteroffer
  1. Say thank you and let them know that you appreciate their consideration.
  2. Acknowledge the time the organization invested in reviewing your application and in including you in the interviewing and hiring process.
  3. Briefly explain why you decided not to accept the job offer.
Mar 29, 2023

Should you counter offer immediately? ›

Making a counteroffer to the first job offer is generally a good thing. As long as you don't fold at the first No, you don't issue ultimatums or make threats and the counteroffer isn't a surprise after the prospective employer already thinks you've accepted, then you will be OK.

Can you walk away after putting an offer on a house? ›

Can A Buyer Back Out Of An Accepted Offer? As a home buyer, you can back out of a home purchase agreement. However, with no contingencies written in the contract, you may face costly consequences such as losing your earnest money deposit. As a buyer, the ability to back out of an accepted house offer is good news.

How much should you lower when putting in an offer on a house? ›

“The rule I've always followed is to never go more than 25% below the listed price,” he says. “Chances are, after fees, commission, and sentimental value, the sellers are already hurting. If you dip below that point, they may disregard your offer entirely.”

Can you put an offer on a house that already has an offer? ›

Can you put multiple offers on houses? You can put multiple offers on houses – and it's a common practice amongst buyers. There is no law against making offers on more multiple houses.

What do I need to know before making an offer on a house? ›

Here are some things to research again, or for the first time:
  1. The neighborhood.
  2. Comparable sales.
  3. The home's history and number of days on the market.
  4. Utilities estimate.
  5. Property taxes.
  6. Schools in the area.

Can a seller change their mind after accepting an offer? ›

Yes. A seller can back out of an accepted offer or before closing, as long as there are no specific clauses that state otherwise. That being said, whether or not a seller can back out of a contingent offer depends on the contract that was written and what is mentioned in it.

Can a buyer change their mind after closing on a house? ›

Yes. For certain types of mortgages, after you sign your mortgage closing documents, you may be able to change your mind. You have the right to cancel, also known as the right of rescission, for most non-purchase money mortgages. A non-purchase money mortgage is a mortgage that is not used to buy the home.

Is it rude to offer less on a house? ›

A low offer may be upsetting to the sellers, but if you and your real estate agent present the offer along with an expression of your appreciation for the property, it's more likely to be accepted than a low offer accompanied by a half-complete contract or an insult about the property's condition.

What is a lowball offer? ›

A lowball offer refers to an offer that is far less than the seller's asking price or is deliberately too low, as a means of starting negotiations. To lowball also means to throw out a purposely lower than reasonable number to see how the seller will react.

Is 20% off a lowball offer? ›

Typically, a lowball offer is considered to be at least 20% below the asking price. If you're offering 10% below, the property should be in a good condition but may just need some cosmetic work done.

What is a strong offer on a house? ›

If you're ready to buy a home, you're probably wondering about how to write “a strong offer.” When we say “strong offer,” we're talking about writing the best offer – an offer that's going to have the best chance of getting chosen by the seller.

How do I convince a seller to accept my offer? ›

Once you find a property you want to buy, and draft your purchase offer, consider these things that could convince a seller to accept.
  1. Make sure the price is right. ...
  2. Show proof of pre-qualification. ...
  3. Offer more earnest money. ...
  4. Waive certain contingencies. ...
  5. Include an escalation clause. ...
  6. Limit your asks for extras.

Should you ever take the first offer on a house? ›

Real estate agents often suggest that sellers either accept the first offer or at least give it serious consideration. Real estate agents around the world generally go by the same mantra when discussing the first offer that a seller receives on their home: “The first offer is always your best offer.

How do you beat a contingent offer? ›

Here are just a few strategies that can help you beat out the competition:
  1. Get approved for your mortgage. ...
  2. Waive contingencies. ...
  3. Increase your earnest money deposit. ...
  4. Offer above asking price. ...
  5. Include an appraisal gap guarantee. ...
  6. Get personal. ...
  7. Consider a cash offer alternative.
Apr 12, 2022


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