It never hurts to ask

By Will McCullough
Deena and I have two kids, a daughter named Keara and a son named Cooper. Being kids, they’ll often ask for something that catches their mom and me a bit off guard. For example, one of the above recently asked if they could walk downtown with their friend from our house. As we live on Lady’s Island, the answer was “heck no.” The catch was, by even asking, the kiddo in question got something pretty close. We agreed to drive them downtown, drop them off, and pick them back up an hour later. The morale of the story is that it never hurts to ask and, in real estate, we call this making an offer. There’s a reason it’s called an “offer” as opposed to a “demand.” A potential buyer can ask anything they wish and should know that a seller’s agent is obligated to present all offers regardless of whether they personally feel the offer is good or bad. Obviously, the price you wish to purchase the property for is part of the offer, but potential buyers of local property should know in advance that there are other components of an offer as well. A few examples of these components can be found below.

Closing Date: In addition to price, local offers also normally contain the date the potential buyer wishes to “close,” or make final, the actual sale of the property. Sellers stereotypically will consider a slightly lower offer with regard to price if they are offered a contract with a closing date that is sooner as opposed to later.

Method of Payment: Another component of a standard offer locally is informing the seller if the buyer intends to purchase via cash or financing.  If the property is to be purchased via financing, some details of the hypothetical loan are also normally provided. For example, it’s normal to share in an offer if a loan is to be conventional, VA, FHA, etc. Regardless of how a buyer intends to purchase, it can greatly increase a buyer’s chances for an offer being accepted if they include proof of their ability to buy with the offer. This can be via a pre-qualification letter from a lender if home is to be financed or documented proof of funds if a cash purchase is intended.

Closing Costs: In a nutshell, closing costs are the accumulation of many smaller fees considered normal during a transaction for both the buyer and the seller.  These include, but are not limited to, attorney’s fees, processing fees and inspection costs.  These fees are normally paid “out of pocket” (outside of financing the acquisition cost of the property) and, especially for first time homebuyers, asking the seller to pay the buyer’s portion of these costs can be a crucial aspect of a transaction.
Inspections: There are several types of inspections that a buyer should consider having before they close on the sale of a property.  These include, but are not limited to, a home inspection, a survey, an appraisal, a termite inspection and more. Part of the initial offer not only contains notifying the seller, in advance, what inspections you intend to have but also what will happen if something negative is discovered during the course of a given inspection. While these inspections do cost money, it is unquestionably money well spent. Ask your agent for specific guidance but, as a general rule, always have your inspections.

Contingencies/Addendum: Think of these as “extras” not covered in the standard contract wording. Need to sell your current home before you buy but really want to try and secure the new home of your dreams? Want to ask the seller if they’d be willing to include that nice Pioneer boat with the sale of the home? Curious if the seller would replace the carpet? Want to live in the home as a rental while waiting for the closing date? All of those items and more can be asked in an offer and this section of the document is the place to do it.
When it comes down to it, everything in real estate is negotiable. While a good buyer’s agent will help guide you through the options to consider when making an offer, the bottom line is that you can offer, or ask for, just about anything. That does not necessarily mean that you’ll get it but you may get something close to it. Once again, don’t be afraid to ask.

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