Selling Real Estate: The Basics of Making an Offer

the walsh team - william raveis - Wellesley - real estateA written proposal is the foundation of a real estate transaction. Oral promises are not legally enforceable when it comes to the sale of real estate. Therefore, you need to enter into a written contract, which starts with your written proposal. This proposal not only specifies price, but also all the terms and conditions of the purchase. For example, if the seller offered to help with $2,000 toward your closing costs, make sure that’s included in your written offer and in the final completed contract, or you won’t have grounds for collecting it later.

REALTORS® have standard purchase agreements and will help you put together a written, legally binding offer that reflects the price as well as terms and conditions that are right for you. Your REALTOR® will guide you through the offer, counteroffer, negotiating and closing processes. In many states certain disclosure laws must be complied with by the seller, and the REALTOR® will ensure that this takes place.

If you are not working with a real estate agent, keep in mind that you must draw up a purchase offer or contract that conforms to state and local laws and that incorporates all of the key items. State laws vary, and certain provisions may be required in your area.

After the offer is drawn up and signed, it is usually presented to the seller by your real estate agent, by the seller’s real estate agent, if that’s a different agent, or often by the two together. In a few areas, sales contracts are drawn up by the parties’ lawyers.

What is in an Offer?
The purchase offer you submit, if accepted as it stands, will become a binding sales contract (known in some areas as a purchase agreement, earnest money agreement or deposit receipt). So it’s important that the purchase offer contains all the items that will serve as a “blueprint for the final sale.” The purchase offer includes items such as:

address and the legal description of the property
sale price
terms: for example, all cash or subject to you obtaining a mortgage for a given amount
seller’s promise to provide clear title (ownership)
target date for closing (the actual sale)
amount of earnest money deposit accompanying the offer, whether it’s a check, cash or promissory note, and how it’s to be returned to you if the offer is rejected – or kept as damages if you later back out for no good reason
method by which real estate taxes, rents, fuel, water bills and utilities payments are to be adjusted (prorated) between buyer and seller
provisions about who will pay for title insurance, survey, termite inspections, etc.
type of deed to be given
other requirements specific to your state, which might include a chance for an attorney to review the contract, disclosure of specific environmental hazards or other state-specific clauses
a provision that the buyer may make a last-minute walkthrough inspection of the property just before the closing
a time limit (preferably short) after which the offer will expire
contingencies, which are an extremely important matter and that are discussed in detail below
Contingencies – “Subject to” Clauses
If your offer says “this offer is contingent upon (or subject to) a certain event,” you’re saying that you will only go through with the purchase if that event occurs. Here are two common contingencies contained in a purchase offer:

The buyer obtaining specific financing from a lending institution: If the loan can’t be found, the buyer won’t be bound by the contract.
A satisfactory report by a home inspector: for example, “within 10 days after acceptance of the offer.” The seller must wait 10 days to see if the inspector submits a report that satisfies the buyer. If not, the contract would become void. Again, make sure that all the details are explicitly stated in the written contract.
Negotiating Tips
You’re in a strong bargaining position, that is, you look particularly welcome to a seller, if:

you’re an all-cash buyer
you’re already have a preapproved mortgage and you don’t have a present house that has to be sold before you can afford to buy
you’re able to close and take possession at a time that is especially convenient for the seller
In these circumstances, you may be able to negotiate some discount from the listed price.

On the other hand, in a “hot” seller’s market, if the perfect house comes on the market, you may want to offer the list price (or more) to beat out other early offers.

It’s very helpful to find out why the house is being sold and whether the seller is under pressure. Keep the following considerations in mind:

every month a vacant house remains unsold represents considerable extra expense for the seller
if the sellers are divorcing, they may want to sell quickly
estate sales often yield a bargain in return for a prompt deal
Earnest Money
This is a deposit that you give when making an offer on a house. A seller is understandably suspicious of a written offer that is not accompanied by a cash deposit to show “good faith.” A real estate agent or an attorney usually holds the deposit, the amount of which varies from community to community. This will become part of your down payment.

Buyers: the Seller’s Response to Your Offer
You will have a binding contract if the seller, upon receiving your written offer, signs an acceptance just as it stands, unconditionally. The offer becomes a firm contract as soon as you are notified of acceptance. If the offer is rejected, that’s that – the sellers could not later change their minds and hold you to it.

If the seller likes everything except the sale price, or the proposed closing date, or the basement pool table you want left with the property, you may receive a written counteroffer including the changes the seller prefers. You are then free to accept it, reject it or even make your own counteroffer. For example, “We accept the counteroffer with the higher price, except that we still insist on having the pool table.”

Each time either party makes any change in the terms, the other side is free to accept, reject or counter again. The document becomes a binding contract only when one party finally signs an unconditional acceptance of the other side’s proposal.

Buyers: Withdrawing an Offer
Can you take back an offer? In most cases the answer is yes, right up until the moment it is accepted, or even in some cases, if you haven’t yet been notified of acceptance. If you do want to revoke your offer, be sure to do so only after consulting a lawyer who is experienced in real estate matters. You don’t want to lose your earnest money deposit or find yourself being sued for damages the seller may have suffered by relying on your actions.

Sellers: Calculating Your Net Proceeds
When an offer comes in, you can accept it exactly as it stands, refuse it (seldom a useful response) or make a counteroffer to the buyers with the changes you want. In evaluating a purchase offer, you should estimate the amount of cash you’ll walk away with when the transaction is complete. For example, when you’re presented with two offers at the same time, you may discover you’re better off accepting the one with the lower sale price if the other asks you to pay points to the buyer’s lending institution.

Once you have a specific proposal before you, calculating net proceeds becomes simple. From the proposed purchase price you can subtract the following costs:

payoff amount on present mortgage
any other liens (equity loan, judgments)
broker’s commission
legal costs of selling (attorney, escrow agent)
transfer taxes
unpaid property taxes and water and other utility bills
if required by the contract: cost of survey, termite inspection, buyer’s closing costs, repairs, etc.
Your present mortgage lender may maintain an escrow account into which you deposit money to be used for property tax bills and homeowner’s insurance. In that case, remember that you will receive a refund of money left in that account, which will add to your proceeds.

Sellers: Counteroffers
When you receive a purchase offer from a would-be buyer, remember that unless you accept it exactly as it stands, unconditionally, the buyer is free to walk away. Any change you make in a counteroffer puts you at risk of losing that chance to sell.

Who pays for what items is often determined by local custom. You can, however, negotiate with the buyer any agreement you want about who pays for the following costs:

termite inspection
buyer’s closing costs
points paid to the buyer’s lender
buyer’s broker fees
repairs required by the lender
home protection policy
You may feel some of these costs are none of your business, but many buyers – particularly first-timer buyers – are short of cash. Helping them may be the best way to get your home sold.

Open House Schedule for Today

Open House Schedule for Today

Click Link and times will be located in the right hand margin.

Selling Real Estate: How to Set a List Price for Your Home


Setting the list price for your home involves evaluating various market conditions and financial factors. During this phase of the home selling process, your REALTOR® will help you set your list price based on:

  • pricing considerations
  • comparable sales
  • market conditions
  • offering incentives
  • estimated net proceeds

Pricing Considerations – Find a Balance Between Too High and Too Low

When setting a list price for your home, you should be aware of a buyer’s frame of mind. Consider the following pricing factors:

If you set the price too high, your house won’t be picked for viewing, even though it may be much nicer than other homes on the street. You may have told your REALTOR® to “Bring me any offer. Frankly, I’d take less.” But compared to other houses for sale, your home simply looks too expensive to be considered.

If you price too low, you’ll short-change yourself. Your house will sell promptly, yes, but you may make less on the sale than if you had set a higher price and waited for a buyer who was willing to pay it.

TIP: Never say “asking” price, which implies you don’t expect to get it. (read on)

Open House Schedule for This Weekend


2 Thurston Place and 54 Brook St. in Medfield, MA

Open Sat. 3/9 1:00 – 3:00

What you have been waiting for- “Thurston Place”, an enclave of 11 luxury new Townhomes on a lovely side street in downtown Medfield. Attractively priced and constructed by respected local builders, each Townhome features a spacious fireplaced living room open to a gracious dining area with attractive tray ceiling and lovely wainscotting, a wonderful granite and stainless kitchen with center island/breakfast bar, deluxe master suite with beautifully tiled bath and walk-in closet, as well as a second en suite bedroom with walk-in closet. Complete with the potential for a third second floor bedroom, large lower level ready to be finished, two-car attached garage, patio and lovely landscaping, these Townhomes are definitely a “Must See”! There’s NO AGE RESTRICTION and still time to make personal selections. Reserve your new home today (More Photos)


20 Crest Dr. Dover, MA

Open Sun. 3/10 1:00 – 3:00

Lots of space in this attractive Multi-Level style home with its versatile floorplan. Features include kitchen w/granite countertops & sunny breakfast area, expansive skylit master suite w/vaulted ceiling, 2 walk-in closets & Jacuzzi, possible in-law/au pair suite w/separate entrance, lower level game room w/kitchenette & screened porch for summer enjoyment. Roof- 2yrs. Furnace 3 yrs. Popular Dover neighborhood setting convenient to shopping and major routes. #1 Rated School System! (More Photos)


6 Stop River Rd. Norfolk, MA

Open Sun. 3/10 1:00 – 2:00

Welcome to this distinctive and spacious 6,000+sf residence in Norfolk’s premier Stop River Estates neighborhood! Featuring generous, sun-filled, open living spaces, wonderful curb appeal and space galore, this expansive home offers five large bedrooms, four full and two half baths and three finished levels. Highlights of the home include a lovely two-story entrance foyer, spacious kitchen with center island, dining area and gleaming birch floor open to family room with gorgeous woodstove and access to a delightful screened porch, a handsome, wood-paneled, fireplaced library and huge 1st floor master suite with cathedral ceiling and whirlpool bath. Upstairs you will find 4 generous bedrooms, a cedar closet and convenient 2nd floor laundry. The home is complete with a large, game room with wet bar, enclosed, glassed hot tub room, steam shower & exercise room. The 3-car attached garage and lovely,landscaped 1.4 acre private setting complement this fabulous property. Definitely a Must-See and Tremendous Value! (More Photos)

Want to know what your home is worth? Click the link below to schedule a free Comparative Market Analysis!


NEW CONSTRUCTION: 14 Bristol Rd Wellesley, MA


List Price: $3,095,000     Address:  14 Bristol Rd  Wellesley, MA

5 Beds, 6 Baths, 6700sq.ft., .46 Acres

New Construction from Wellesley’s award winning builder. Both grand & welcoming, this meticulously handcrafted home offers traditional design w exquisite materials, superior craftsmanship, & attention to detail. A state of the art Chef’s kitchen, a cherry paneled library w built ins & fireplace, a large private backyard w bluestone patio & exterior fireplace, a finished lower level w future wine cellar & smart house technology – this house has it all! Spring 2013 occupancy.

(More Photos)



Listing Office Information
Office: William Raveis R.E. & Home Services
Agent: Barber Real estate Group

FOR SALE: 194, 200 Pond Rd. Wellesley, MA


194, 200 Pond Rd. Wellesley, MA

Exquisite Georgian Colonial on coveted scenic Pond Rd majestically set on 11+ secluded acres 1 mile from Wellesley Center. Magnificent 10,000+ sq. ft. brick residence decorated by nationally awarded designers. Appointed w/ unparalleled custom detail & quality of construction. Grand 2-story reception foyer w/ bridal staircase. Formal & informal rooms overlook impeccable grounds, pool, tennis court & putting green. 5 en-suite bedrooms & separate 2-bed au-pair apt. Includes buildable 1.74 acre lot.

(See more photos)

walsh team showing

Listing Office Information
Office: Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage – Wellesley
Agent: Jill Boudreau

Status: Active
List Price: $8,950,000
Total Rooms: 20
Beds/Baths: 7/7.5
Master Bath: Yes
Living Area: 10258sqft
Acres: 11.14 (485205 sqft)
Style: Colonial
Basement: Yes
Lender Owned: No
Short Sale With Lender Approval Required: No
Garage: 3  Attached, Garage Door Opener

FOR SALE: 145 Lee Street Brookline, MA – Reservoir


145 Lee Street  Brookline, MA – Reservoir

In Brookline’s premiere neighborhood, this prominent Georgian Revival estate was designed by Phillip Avery. On 3/4 of an acre, it is minutes to both the Reservoir & The Country Club, surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds. It creatively combines the elegance & grandeur of yesteryear w/a contemporary flair. Over 9000 sq.ft. of living space w/abundant light throughout. Large attached 3-car garage w/apartment above completes this spectacular offer.

(See more photos)

walsh team showing

Listing Office Information
Office: William Raveis R. E. & Home Services
Agent: Allen | Jacobson Team

FOR SALE: 64 Dudley Street Brookline, MA – Reservoir


64 Dudley Street  Brookline, MA – Reservoir

Spectacular Georgian Revival Estate overlooking the Brookline Reservoir. Combining the grandeur of yesterday w/ modern conveniences& updates for today’s living. Extensive renovations done to gourmet kitchen,baths, plumbing, electrical, windows. 7 fpl., period detail & soaring ceilings. Grounds professionally landscaped w/ tennis court & indoor pool w/ retractable roof. Carriage house w/gar. pkg for 3 cars. Potential living space on 2nd fl.Close to shops& public transportation. Minutes to Boston.

(See more photos)

walsh team showing

Listing Office Information
Office: William Raveis R. E. & Home Services
Agent: Robin Allen

Gearing Up for Spring Market! Everything a Seller Needs to Know!


The Basics of Marketing Your Home

Your REALTOR®’s marketing efforts and considerations will include advertising, showing the property, how long the house has been on the market and whether you’re buying another home. Your home should be listed, whenever possible, through a Multiple Listing Service (MLS)… (read on)

How to Set a List Price for Your Home

Setting the list price for your home involves evaluating various market conditions and financial factors. During this phase of the home selling process, your REALTOR® will help you set your list price based on:

  • pricing considerations
  • comparable sales
  • market conditions
  • offering incentives
  • estimated net proceeds

(read on)

Get Your House Ready to Show to Buyers

A house that “sparkles” on the surface will sell faster than its shabby neighbor, even though both are structurally well maintained.

From experience, REALTORS® also know that a “well-polished” house appeals to more buyers and will sell faster and for a higher price. Additionally, buyers feel more comfortable purchasing a well-cared for home because if what they can see is well maintained, they assume that what they can’t see has probably also been well maintained. In readying your house for sale, consider:

  • how much should you spend to prepare your house for sale?
  • exterior and curb appeal
  • interior appeal

Before putting your house on the market, take as much time as necessary (and as little money as possible) to maximize its exterior and interior appeal… (read on)

Why Use a REALTOR® When Selling a Home?

A real estate agent can help you understand everything you need to know about the home selling process.

Not all real estate licensees are the same; only those who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) are properly called REALTORS®. They proudly display the REALTOR “®” trademark on their business cards and other marketing and sales literature… (read on)

What’s My Home Worth?

Are you thinking about selling your home but you’re not sure what it is worth? The value of your home is determined by a number of factors, including the selling price of other homes in your area. To see what some houses in your area have sold for recently, enter your address in the space provided: (click here)

Community Information

Whether you’re buying a home, selling your home or relocating, the following tool will help to guide your decision. (click link)

Mortgage Information

If you’re like most buyers, a home is the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make, and you’ll probably need some form of financing.

There are many lending institutions that offer a variety of mortgage products. Financing options and rates can vary widely, so it is important to do your research and shop around to ensure you get the mortgage that most meets your needs.

We would be happy to refer you to some of the best mortgage contacts in the business, whether it be only for advice or to actually secure a loan for your home purchase. (mortgage calculator)

What’s Your Home Worth?

The value of your home is determined by a number of factors, including the selling price of other homes in your area. To see what some houses in your area have sold for recently, (click here)