Last week we talked a bit about keeping safe when showing your home. One of the points made was that you're going to be pretty excited about someone being interested in your home. The key is to not get so excited that you forget about keeping yourself safe. Today we're going to talk a bit about a different kind of safety. It's the safety (or caution) you need to exhibit when you finally get that offer (or offers!) for your home. The goal is to keep your emotions in check. Keep your head on straight and make an informed, well-thought-out decision.

For the past 10 years I have run a web development company. For the past two-ish years we actually started doing some marketing. Turns out when you tell people what your business does (and your business produces awesome work) the phone starts to ring. Last week that all came to a head when someone (a client of mine, actually) offered to buy my company. The money, benefits, and equity are attractive and the lessening of the stressload of running a business sounds great. And that's where today's article comes in.

When you are selling your home, you need to carry the same caution with those offers you are receiving. First and foremost you should conjur up your best Jerry Maguire and scream "Show me the money!" Well, maybe don't scream that. You'll freak people out. Depending on the type of offer, you have a couple different methods of ensuring that the buyer is capable of completing the transaction. I tend to think the best of people and honestly enjoy living my life that way. In this case, you're not implying that you don't trust the buyer. You're just doing your due diligence to ensure that this deal is in your best interest.

If it is a standard mortgage, you should get your hands on the pre-approval letter. You are making sure that some lending institution has already approved them for that amount. There is not much "private" about this letter, especially if you are at this point in the negotiation. It will be an expected request. If it is a cash offer, it's a little different. There is no third party involved in this one so it is just the buyer proving that they have the funds in some available account somewhere. Yes, this sounds personal, but you need the confidence to walk away from all the other offers and this will give you that peace of mind.

While we're on the money train, the earnest money deposit is (and really should be) a big deal. When I purchased my duplex down in Somersworth, I was able to provide the smallest down payment possible (3%) and everything went through just fine. If you have multiple offers, it is worth considering the one with the most money invested. This is a financial symbol of their seriousness and interest in your property. Remember, if they back out, you keep the deposit. A large financial investment into their offer (read: big deposit) indicates they are very serious and will very likely take this deal across the finish line.

The next consideration is contingencies. I'm only slightly embarrassed to admit I included an offer to purchase land (up in Whitefield) with about 12 contingencies. The agent was being particularly difficult to work with (which was quite dumb're selling land in Whitefield, dummy) so I wanted to overly protect my buyer. The additional research and paperwork (and headache) I sent his way was worth it. For you, being much more mature and less spiteful than I was at the time, you are just looking to protect yourself.

"Contingencies are simple but effective ways for the buyer to protect themselves from "unknowns" at the time the offer is made," notes Badger Realty agent, Don Lapointe. Don is right. The most popular and almost "required" contingency is for the inspection. This doesn't necessarily mean that anything the slightest bit "off" in the inspection will kill the deal. It just gives the buyer the right to back out if anything that comes out of the inspection is unsatisfactory to them. It is a pretty broad and safe way for buyers to keep their earnest money safe.

Lastly is the timeline. You are not always in a hurry to sell, but in general the sooner the better. Sometimes the buyers are waiting for their own property to sell and that will (or could) hold up the deal. Other times, the buyers are super motivated and their timeline is based on a move to your city or some other circumstance. At the end of the day, this is entirely up to you. I know sellers who have moved into a short-term rental in order to satisfy the desires of their buyers.

The key point from today is to evaluate all the different factors of an offer. Even if one offer is a larger dollar amount than another, the other factors involved may make it less attractive overall. You need to focus on what is important to you and your family and make your best decision from there.

Jason Robie works for Badger Realty.

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