10 Things to Do Before You Make an Offer on a House

Before You Make an Offer on a House

Are you ready to make an offer?

Are you about to make an offer on a new home?

We just made a successful offer on a new home purchase.

Before we made the offer, however, we made sure to consider a few final details.

If you are about to make an offer yourself, here are to things to do before you get going.

This article assumes you are ready to buy a house based on your stage in life and financial status.

It also assumes you’ve properly narrowed down your choice of house based on your needs, wants, and understanding of the available homes and neighborhoods.

Double check the school situation. Don’t assume your new home will always be in the school district or specific school that you are looking to get into. Double check with the district that they aren’t about to re-zone or open a new school close by.

Ensure the price is right. Before you started your home search you hopefully got a pre-approval letter showing how much mortgage you could take on. You also hopefully ran the new mortgage payment, taxes, hoa dues, and insurance through your monthly budget to ensure you are not buying too much house. The question to ask now is, does the house you are making an offer on fit within your initial financial guidelines?

Take one more walk-though. You’ve seen the house at least once. Before you get official with your offer take one last look through the house to make sure it’s exactly what you want, and to also check for anything you may have missed in your initial casual walk-through. Look behind doors and under furniture. Notice the details. When you know you may own a house soon, you view it differently.

Review the seller’s disclosure. Here in Texas we are given a seller’s disclosure that we must review before making an offer. It contains all of the upgrades and repairs done on the house by the previous owner. This information is key for making estimates of what kinds of repairs you may need to do in the next year or two.

Review the utility bills. You may be able to afford the new mortgage payment, but can you afford the new electric bill? Most sellers these days will prepare a utility estimate for you to review prior to making an offer. Study this carefully and make sure it fits well into your budget.

Talk to the neighbors. The house might be your dream home, but the neighbors might be questionable. Make an effort to ask around about the neighborhood. Drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day. See who’s out and about. Stop and talk to them and see if they are the type of people you want to be living next to.

Research your “comps”. Your real estate agent should be able to pull real estate comparables. These are recent sale prices in the area for houses with similar square footage. This will give you confidence that you are making a good offer.

Google the address. Spend some time online researching your property’s address. Simply perform a basic search in Google and click the “news” results link to look for any troubling news about your future house. Do the same for your neighborhood.

Understand how the rest of the process works. Once you make the offer you’ll typically have just a few days to get an inspection and get estimates on remodeling, repairs, etc. Talk to your agent about what other steps you’ll need to take once your offer is accepted.

One final note about making the offer itself. They say you make your money on a home when you buy it, but don’t let that rule your thinking when it comes to making an offer. A home is mostly just a nice, big expense. If you luck up and make some money on appreciation that’s great, but don’t sweat it too bad if you feel like you have to offer what the seller is listing the house for.

If it’s just come on the market and you’d feel really bad if you lost the home to another buyer, then make a high offer and be happy with your new home.

What advice do you have for anyone considering an offer on a new home?

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About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon.

He created Part-Time Money® back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. We were burned by a lousy home inspector that was recommended by the realtor. They were working together to make sure the home sold. So many things were answered incorrectly or not disclosed at all. So my advice is to never use the home inspector recommended by the agent.

  2. Long Pham says

    To add to the Google results. Do some map reconnaissance of your potential neighborhood. You’d be very surprised how many homes are very close to train tracks. You’ll want to know how close you are to neighborhood parks (some people don’t like the noise of early morning softball games on weekends). Being within a few miles of a fire station will actually lower your home insurance costs too.
    I would also recommend in addition to the home inspection, to bring in your own termite inspector. My experience is that termite inspectors often have different opinions and if I had brought in my own before I put in an offer on my house, I could have gotten the homeowner to pay for tenting in addition to the other repairs and spot treatments they did.

  3. Philip Taylor says

    We didn’t contact the inspector until after we signed the sales contract to purchase. They were able to schedule a time 5 business days later. This gave us time to also schedule contractors for estimates on work we might want to do.

  4. And don’t assume anyone else will do the research for you. We waited while our realtors stalled, and I did my own comps. Sadly, we didn’t check everything, and ended up with a pool that didn’t hold water. Our realtors thought it  was no big deal, but in taking it down I tore cartilage in my knee, so not only did I have the inconvenience, but injury too. You can’t be too careful with the details!

  5. SpringCoin says

    I think reviewing the seller’s disclosure is huge!  Sometimes you think certain appliances are included, but if you don’t read the fine prints, you might walk-in to a nice little surprise.  
    One other tip is to factor in moving costs + furniture costs.  When someone buys a new home, they’re overjoyed and can get a little crazy when it comes to interior furnishing!  I don’t blame them, it’s definitely exciting!  

  6. Mike Dean says

    I think another frame of mind you have to go into with is that there are other nice homes.  You can’t become so locked on one that you have to outbid others.  I guess it depends on your need to hurry or not, but not having to hurry is huge and you can walk away from sellers that really don’t want to sell.

  7. Smart Military Money says

    Great list here, especially the “Ensure the Price is Right” graf. Double checking all the numbers never hurts.
    When do you recommend at least having a home inspector ready to check out the house?