You’ve decided to buy a house, you’ve found the house of your dreams, and now it’s time to sit down and write up a formal offer.

Contracts can be intimidating when you’re making the purchase of a lifetime. What can you expect? Here are some of the details you’ll see when you sit down to buy your house.

The standard offer form will vary from state to state, depending on your laws.

The first thing on the offer will reference the property you want to buy. It will include the address, town or city, book and page number of the deed and sometimes the MLS number for reference.

It will ask what you’d like to include. Do you want the stove? Refrigerator? Washer and dryer? Write it all in. Maybe you like the window treatments, write those in as well.

Next will come the important part, the price. What do you want to offer to the sellers? How much money are you willing to put down now, with the offer? And how much with the Purchase and Sales agreement? Your total deposit will be reflected in two different payments, one at offer and one at the Purchase and Sales agreement, your deposit amounts will be deducted by your lender off of your total down payment needed.

How long is your offer good for? Are you going to give the sellers 24 hours to respond? 48 hours? Don’t stretch it out too long, but give them ample opportunity to consider your offer.

The offer will ask about your Purchase and Sale date. Typically it will be between 10-18 days after the offer has been accepted, but can vary depending on your circumstances. This will give you time to get through your home inspection before you need to put your second deposit check down.

When do you want to close? This will all depend, again, on your circumstance. Do you need to give a landlord a 30-day notice?

Keep all of these in mind when you set your closing date.

Who is holding your money in escrow? Typically, it will either be the seller’s real estate agent or attorney. Your initial deposit will go into an escrow account to be held against the house. Make sure you know where your money will be.

There will also be certain things spelled out on the offer, stating that you’ll need to sign certain paperwork that goes along with buying a house. A Lead Paint Transfer Notification is one, stating if there is, isn’t, or unknown lead paint in the house. It will also mention that real estate agents, and sellers cannot be discriminatory.

The big section at the end will include contingencies, and more often than not, you’ll need another section just to cover those to make sure your interests are protected. Make sure you have ample time to conduct a home inspection; usually it will fall between 10-14 days from acceptance of the offer.

You’ll want to have a mortgage contingency in there so you can secure your financing without risking your deposit. Spell out when you need to apply by, and when to receive your commitment.

All of these dates will become important.

There will also be lines to add in your own contingencies. Make sure you write everything down that might be an issue with you buying the house. If you have a house to sell, write it down. If you want the seller to assist with closing costs, write it down. These will all be very personal, so it would be impossible for me to go through a complete list.

After all this is filled out, take your time and read the completed offer over. Make sure everything you want, and need is in there. This is a legally binding contract, so you want it to be right the first time. If it looks okay, then you can sign it and your agent will get it to the sellers.

It can be a scary process to write up an offer, and many people are frightened and emotional. Both of those feelings, mixed with a contract can add to the fear unless you know what to expect.

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