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Should You Take The First Offer On Your House?

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home seller holding keys of his house in palm with key lock in background

Selling your home is a big step to take in life. It can mean that you are ready to take your career in a different direction, you want to be closer to a loved one, or maybe you are trying to move on to the next chapter of your life. 

Regardless, if this is the first time that you are selling a home, you may not know what to expect from the first offer on your house. You also may not be prepared for the process it takes to sell your home. 

The first right offer is something that you should be looking for in this situation. Houses tend to get taken off the market very quickly, with the average time in the United States being just 18 days

But, how do you know if your first home offer is the best that you are going to get? When selling a house, should you take the first offer? 

This guide will explain to you when the first offer may be the right offer for you. 

Personal circumstances 

The first factor that you have to consider when selling your home is what your personal circumstances are. Once you go over why you are selling your home, you should have a better idea of how quickly you will need to do so. 

Certain factors are going to motivate a seller to speed up the process more than others. 

A big example of this is people who are moving a considerable distance for a new job or a step up in their career. Of all of the reasons that Americans have for moving out of state, 42% of those people said the primary reason for moving was because of their job and/or career. 

If you are moving to start a new job, you may only have a few weeks or even a few days before you have to show up to your new city or state to start your job. That means that you are more pressed for time and will probably be less likely to want to deal with a lengthy sales process. 

In this situation, you probably will want to part ways with your original house as fast as possible to make your new move smoother. Any situation that involves you having to be in a new destination sooner rather than later is likely going to motivate you to cut ties with your old town or city as fast as possible. 

Having another mortgage 

One thing that you need to consider as a seller is what your financial situation is. The reason for this is that most people who are selling a house are looking to buy a new house to live in. 

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule such as if someone is selling an inherited house or if they are moving in with a spouse. 

However, let’s assume that you are looking to buy a new home while trying to sell your original home. Let’s also assume that this new home is going to be around the same price range as your original home. 

You could find yourself in a situation where you find the new home that is perfect for you and you are in a competitive housing market. That means that you are going to have to make a lucrative offer quickly and be ready to pounce on it. 

If your bid wins for the new home, that means that you are going to have to come up with the money to buy that home as soon as possible. With your old house still being on the market, that could force you to have to take out a second mortgage. 

Taking out a second mortgage could cause problems such as adding more interest to your debt that you are going to have to pay off later. Even worse, you may not financially qualify for another mortgage and you could potentially lose your dream home because everything could be delayed by your original house. 

If a seller is actively looking for a new home, they may be more likely to accept a quick sales process for their old home. 

Time of year 

Believe it or not, the time of year that you are trying to sell your house matters a lot. The toughest time of year to sell a house tends to be during the winter. To be even more specific, December is regarded as the toughest month to sell a home. 

So, let’s say you listed your home for sale in the beginning of November. From there, you played the house offer waiting game and have not seen an offer that you found acceptable for about three weeks. 

Thanksgiving is fast approaching in this situation and after that, a lot of buyers are going to be focused on Christmas activities. During the holidays, buyers tend to be too distracted to give 100% of their focus towards buying a new home. 

With that said, this could leave a seller in a really bad spot. It can force them to have to take some money off of their asking price or even force them to hang onto their old home a lot longer than they may have wanted to. 

If you find yourself trying to sell a home and are quickly approaching a colder season for home sales, you may want to consider an early offer that is reasonably close to your asking price. 

The right buyer 

As a new seller, you are probably wondering what the right buyer even is? Well, the right home buyer is someone who has as few of hurdles as possible to jump through in order to close this transaction. 

Let’s say you get two different offers for your home. The first offer is about $10,000 below your asking price but the second offer matches your asking price. 

On paper, you are probably thinking that there is no doubt that you should take the higher offer. Well, this is not always the case. 

In this scenario, the first buyer is coming in with a cash offer while the second offer is pending a mortgage approval. What this means is that a seller would not have to wait at all to complete a deal with the first buyer but with the second buyer, they run the risk of the mortgage not being approved. 

If the latter happens to the seller, it can set them back a lot of time and they may lose out on a legitimate buyer. 

Another example is if the seller has a buyer that offers less money but with no contingencies versus another buyer that comes in with a higher offer but more contingencies. These may include a house inspection, removal of a pool or trampoline, or fixing some holes in the wall. 

Some sellers may be willing to meet these contingencies but for others, they may not find it to be worth the time to do all of that work themselves. If you fall into that category as a seller, perhaps accept the first reasonable offer that does not include any contingencies. 

Time on the market 

Finally, take into consideration how long your house has been on the market. If it has only been on the market for a week or two, it may not seem like a big deal to reject an offer you felt was low and to wait. 

However, there is no guarantee when the next offer is going to come and you run the risk of giving the impression that there is something wrong with the house. This tends to happen when a house has been on the market for a few months without being sold. 

Most of the time, this means that buyers believe that there is either something wrong with the home or that the asking price is way too high. That can give a buyer some leverage if they have that mindset and it can result in you getting not only lower offers than you deserve but lower offers than you may have had before. 

Keep track of how long your house has been on the market and if you get one close to asking price after a few weeks, consider accepting it. 

Know when to accept the first right offer

These are five of the biggest examples of when you should accept the first right offer for your home. If you keep all of these scenarios in play, you are more likely to get the fairest value on your home as possible. 

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