Accepting an Offer

You’ve opened the doors to your well-prepared, well-marketed home, and now you have an offer (or multiple offers). In Hawaii, the offer must be in writing. And if you are using a real estate agent, they must present you all written offers, even if you already are considering an unaccepted offer.

Written Purchase Contract

In Hawaii, an offer will typically be written with the Purchase Contract. This Purchase Contract includes information about the following (and more):

  • Agents who represent the buyers and the sellers
  • Initial earnest money deposit
  • Offer price
  • Description of the property
  • Closing details
  • Title issues
  • Financing information
  • Inspection, maintenance, and survey information
  • Termite provisions

The Purchase Contract should be thoroughly reviewed when accepting an offer, and your real estate professional or an attorney can assist you in understanding the legal terms. But for now, here is some important information that you will need to consider before accepting an offer on your Hawaii home.

What are the sellers main responsibilities in the purchase contract?

While the buyer often has financing and inspection contingencies, the seller’s responsibilities in the purchase contract include the following:

  • Passing a clear title during escrow
  • Maintaining the property in the present condition until closing
  • Doing a professional cleaning before closing
  • Making agreed-upon repairs

What are the secrets to good negotiating?

If the offer isn’t quite what you are looking for, write a counteroffer, which can be completed on the Purchase Contract. This may take some negotiation, but with a few strategies and some persistence, you could walk away with your desired price – or more.

To negotiate well, here are a few tips to follow:

  • Do your homework by learning as much about the buyer as you can. Some information, like whether they need to buy right away, can help sway whether you will accept the offer or try for some more money.
  • Don’t reveal too much information about yourself. While you must disclose material defects, you don’t need to tell the buyer that you are in a rush to sell or that you are willing to take a lower price.
  • Don’t rush into a decision. Home transactions are a huge decision with a lot of financial and social implications, take the time you need to be sure you make the right decision.
  • Have someone help with the negotiation. If you don’t feel confident in your negotiation skills, have a real estate professional help you. They negotiate all the time, and in Hawaii, it is often helpful if the real estate agent knows the other agent and how they operate.

Does a seller have to consider buyer contingencies?

In Hawaii, buyers often don’t often make many contingencies, as there is a limited supply of housing and it’s generally a sellers’ market. However, considering contingencies, such as installing new appliances, may make sense if the purchase price is right and the market is slower. Remember that contingencies are written into the purchase contract and are only negotiable before you accept the offer.

Should I accept the offer?

If a house is priced right and presented well, multiple offers within the first few days of listing are not uncommon in the Hawaii housing market.

If you receive a full price or above-asking price offer that puts at least 20 percent down and includes a mortgage pre-qualification letter, it might be wise to accept the offer; this offer gives you the price you want, and the buyer should have a fairly easy mortgage qualification process.

However, there are other times when you might be asking yourself if you should accept the offer. Here are some thoughts to consider when deciding whether to accept an offer:

  • How is the real estate market? Is it the middle of October and average median home prices are down? Then when you get a reasonable offer, you might want to consider accepting it. Houses typically sell faster in the spring and summer.
  • Has your house been on the market for more than a month? Since homes in Hawaii typically sell quickly, once a month passes, buyers will begin to become suspicious of the reason your home hasn’t sold, even assuming something is wrong. So accept an offer, if possible, before your house sits for sale for too long.
  • Is it an all-cash offer? Even if the offer is a little lower than you asked, an all-cash offer is enticing. You won’t have to wait on the loan approval process, and contingencies are often limited with a cash offer.
  • Are you going through a major life event? During a difficult transition, you may want to move quickly and accept an early offer. Closing your home sale might begin the process of regaining a peaceful life.
  • Do you have a new home? If you have found a new place to live before you sold your old house, you might want to accept an early offer so you don’t have to pay two mortgages.

If the offer amount is sufficient and the buyer is pre-approved for a mortgage with money down, sign on the dotted line. Now it is time to close the deal in escrow.