Making an offer on a house: Key things to consider


Sandra RinomatoSandra Rinomato, Canada AM real estate expert


Published Wednesday, July 30, 2014 7:44AM EDT

What are some of the key things one should consider before they make an offer?

Some people think that because it’s a home they are buying they can easily change their mind and be released of any obligations of the deal. “If I don’t want to buy that house anymore they can’t make me, right?” Actually, they can sue you, big time! Contracts are very serious, including the Agreement of Purchase and Sale for a home. Contracts have very clear requirements including time, terms and consequence. You should make certain that you fully understand all of your obligations before you sign anything.

Your licensed realtor will lead the way and explain everything you need to know, long before you ever sign the document. They will also make sure that you are aware of and fulfill each and every requirement on or before the deadline, and will serve notice appropriately.

A contract is not something to enter into lightly or half-heartedly. Don’t think you can just test the market, or see what the other side says without consequence. The process is an emotional one and involves vast amounts of money. What if they accept your half-hearted offer? You may be stuck with it! Never go to paper unless you are sure of what you are doing.

Don’t offer on two properties at once, as you may find yourself locked in two deals. That’s very dangerous, unless of course you intend to buy both places. For most of us, that would be a disaster.

Make sure to include, in writing, everything you think is important to the deal. If the other party promises to do something or not to do something, you had better put it in writing. If it’s not in writing, it’s not part of the deal. If it is part of the deal, you can’t change it later-well, don’t count on it, anyway.

Have your financing sorted before you start, don’t guesstimate!

If your bank approval is conditional, fulfill the conditions before you get going, it can take time, and you may not have time. Sometimes you will have to work to secure documentation on old loans that were long paid off, or clear up an issue on your credit file.

Have the deposit liquid in your account in a bank that you can walk into. In other words, make sure you can write a cheque today and it will clear.

If you should find yourself in a position where you cannot complete the transaction you must seek legal advice immediately. Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Failing to close on a property could cause a domino effect in failed transactions.  Your lawyer and realtor may be able to help you find a solution, negotiate your way out of it, or save you from being in court cases (plural!) for years to come. In the long run, you might even lose a few bucks but considering the alternative, that’s peanuts.

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