After you make your offer on a home, the seller or their agent will typically get back to you within 24 to 72 hours. You and your agent can also set a contractual time limit on your offer. If the seller surpasses this limit, the contract becomes void and the buyer must present a new offer if they wish to continue the process.
Putting an offer on a home is exciting, but also anticlimactic: once you submit an offer, you have to play the waiting game. No one likes to sit by the phone anticipating for an important call, especially if it’s unclear just how long they’ll have to wait.
To help excited buyers set expectations, we will answer your top offer questions — like how long sellers have to accept an offer — and break down the general timeline from offer to closing.
Buying a home is an exciting and often stressful process. You want to find the perfect house, but you also want to make sure your offer is accepted. So, how do you know the seller will accept your offer? Look out for these signs.
While these signs do not guarantee that your offer will be accepted, they may give you an indication of how willing the seller is to negotiate and accept an offer. Remember, it's important to work with a qualified real estate agent and to do your research to ensure that you are making a competitive and reasonable offer.
The amount of time it takes for an offer to be accepted on a house can vary depending on the seller and the terms of the offer. In some cases, offers may be accepted within 24 to 48 hours, while in other cases, it may take a week or more for the seller to respond. Generally, after making an offer on a home, the seller's agent will respond to you within one to three days. If it does take longer than that timeframe, don’t stress about it too much, there are plenty of factors that may lead a seller to be slow to respond to your offer.
Certain states, like California, allow you to set time limits that determine how long the seller has to respond to your offer. This may appeal to those in a rush or who have a few different homes on their wishlist. If you find yourself interested in more than one home, you need to know where you stand so you can make other offers if necessary. Your real estate agent should know how the ins and outs of these laws in your state.
To keep things moving along and help get an answer on your offer more quickly, you can set a contractual time limit on your offer. This “time limit of offer” period is when the offer is active and the seller can respond. If the seller surpasses this limit, the contract becomes void and the buyer must present a new offer if they still wish to continue the process.
It’s important to be strategic when you set a time limit, as too short of a limit may make the buyer feel rushed or annoyed, which isn’t likely to work in your favor. On the flip side, if your time limit is too lengthy, that gives other buyers a chance to swoop in and make an offer.
No, sellers don't always accept the first offer on a house. While some sellers may be willing to accept the first offer if it meets their asking price and terms, others may wait to see if they receive more competitive offers. Additionally, some sellers may be more motivated to sell quickly and may accept the first offer they receive. Ultimately, it depends on the seller's individual circumstances and priorities.
It's common for seller comes to you with a counteroffer, and the timeline to nail everything down will vary as you may volley the offer back and forth while you work together to find an offer that satisfies both parties. Price isn’t the only detail you may need to work out during a negotiation. Timelines for contingencies, closing dates, the amount of money you put into the earnest deposit, and the ability to purchase some of the seller’s furniture are just a few of the details you’ll need to iron out.
Usually the seller is just as eager to move the process along as the buyer, so any delays tend to come down to how quickly the two real estate agents coordinate communication with their clients and each other.
To speed up the negotiation process, know what your priorities are before you even begin. Choose one or two must-haves before you start so you can act swiftly and confidently when it comes time to form counter offers and can focus on getting what you truly want.
Once you finish negotiations and the seller accepts the buyer’s offer, they’ll move onto the closing process, which is typically the stage that takes the longest.
Let’s say the seller doesn’t reject your offer — what happens next? There are two potential outcomes: They accept, or they counter your offer.
The best-case scenario is that they accept your offer, and then you quickly move onto the home inspection stage.
If they counter your offer (which is more common in a seller’s market), the seller may come back to you with a proposed price or terms change. Maybe your offer price was too low or they want to agree to an earlier closing date. The reasons sellers have for countering depend on their unique needs and preferences.
If the seller submits a counteroffer, you typically have around 72 hours to respond, but the seller will note the exact amount of time you have to respond in their official counteroffer. The seller may only give you a chance to accept or deny the offer, or they may allow you to re-counter.
Unfortunately, you may not hear back at all after you submit an offer to a seller. This may be because they had many other (and perhaps better) offers to consider, or because your offer was so low they didn’t think that a counteroffer would be worth their time. If the seller doesn’t respond to your offer in the designated time frame, your offer becomes void.
There is no surefire way to know if your offer will be accepted, but there are some signs that can indicate a strong likelihood of acceptance. For example, if the home has been on the market for a long time or if the seller has already purchased a new home, they may be more motivated to sell and more open to negotiation. Additionally, if your offer is close to or above the asking price and you have a pre-approval letter from a lender, it may be viewed more favorably by the seller.
Typically, closing on a house takes about 30 to 45 days, so if you add on a week or two for the seller to consider an offer and to work through any counter offer negotiations, it can take around two months to complete the offer to closing process.
The negotiation process doesn’t stop once the seller accepts the offer. Even once you sign a purchase offer that agrees to a certain price and terms, there is still room for negotiation. This is because you’ll begin the inspection and home appraisal process which may bring attention to issues with the home.
The process of buying a home often takes longer than we’d like, so be patient and know that it will all work out.
If your offer is rejected, it's important to understand the reasons why and to work with your real estate agent to revise your offer and make it more competitive. In some cases, it may be necessary to increase your offer price, waive certain contingencies, or adjust other terms to make your offer more attractive to the seller. Alternatively, you may need to move on and continue your search for a different home.
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