Your first-time homebuyer’s guide (part three)

4 min read


Welcome to Your First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide, Part Three!

If you’ve completed parts one and two of the series, you’re practically a first-time homebuyer pro as we’ve covered a lot, including: financing, how to find your home, partner with a real estate agent, and more. In the third installment of this series, we’ll continue to add to your homebuying knowledge base with tips featured in Your First Home (Second Edition), written by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

Making an offer

No matter the market, there are three basic components of any offer: price, terms, and contingencies (or “conditions” in Canada).

  • Price: The right price fairly reflects the market value of the home you want to buy. To find this price, your agent will pull together a competitive market analysis (CMA), which is a set of recently sold homes that resemble one you want in size, condition, location, and amenities. These records are also called “comparables” or “comps.” You’ll get the best market insights from the homes most similar to the one you’re looking for. Your set of comps will enable you to determine an average cost per square foot, which forms the basis of a competitive offer.
  • Terms: You and the seller have to agree on many details, such as when the deal will close, whether the seller will keep any of the decor (such as window treatments or appliances), and who pays for closing costs. (Though, in Canada, the buyers always pay the closing costs.) These factors are called “terms,” and they give buyers and sellers additional flexibility in crafting a winning deal. When it comes to terms, remember that everything is negotiable. However, different markets have informal rules governing the kinds of requests you can make of sellers. Your agent will let you know what the seller will probably expect, as well as the pros and cons of deviating from market norms. The six basic terms in a real estate offer are: schedule, conveyances, commissions, closing costs, home warranty, and earnest money
  • Contingencies (or Conditions): These clauses let you out of the deal if the house has a problem that didn’t exist, or about which you weren’t aware, when you went under contract. They specify any event that will need to take place in order for you to fulfill the contract.

Common contingencies include:

  • Inspections - protecting you from paying too much for a home that’s hiding MAJOR problems.
  • Financing - letting you out of the contract in the event you don’t qualify for a mortgage
  • Appraisal - guarantees that the home will be professionally appraised and you will only purchase if the value of the appraisal is at least as much as what you agreed to pay on the home.


Once you and your agent have written a contract, your agent will submit it to the seller’s agent. The seller may write a counteroffer that, for example, asks for an earlier closing date and a slightly higher price. Then the ball’s back in your court to decide whether to accept their changes or to counter their counter. Your agent will do all the talking with the seller’s agent, providing a buffer between you and the seller and saving you the stress of in-person negotiations.

When you and the seller reach an agreement and both parties sign the contract, that check you wrote as earnest money will be deposited into an escrow account.

Your agent will do all the talking with the seller’s agent, providing a buffer between you and the seller and saving you the stress of in-person negotiations.


Do your due diligence with a home inspection

Next, it’s important to complete a home inspection. An inspection exposes your dream home’s hidden flaws, so you can go back to the seller to negotiate. Typically, sellers will either agree to fix the problems or reduce the sales price to cover the cost of fixing them.

Before you hire your inspector, review the seller’s disclosure (known as a “seller’s property information sheet” in Canada), a written statement of the owners’ knowledge of the property’s current condition. Your agent will get the disclosure from the seller’s agent. The requirements for what exactly must be shared in a seller’s disclosure vary state by state, but they usually must include any information about large repairs or structural issues.

Make sure to attend the inspection if you’re able and thoroughly read the inspection report after. Once you’ve reviewed and partnered with your agent to decide what to have fixed in order to make your purchase, your agent will convey your requests to the seller for final negotiations.

After the inspection and negotiation, the last few steps between here and closing – which include a survey, title work, and appraisal – are handled primarily by your agent and lender.

Head over to the fourth, and final installment of Your First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide to round out your knowledge on all things homeownership!

Begin your journey home with Keller Mortgage

From beginning to end, Keller Mortgage professionals bring clarity and ease to the homebuying experience. Contact us today to begin the process or request more information. We recognize how special purchasing your first home is and are committed to helping you every step of the way!

Keep learning


First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide (Part One)

First-time homebuyer fears can range from “I can’t afford to buy a home” to “I can’t buy a home because my credit score is too bad.” While it can be natural to have these thoughts, it’s important to face fears with facts. Let's take affordability, for instance.


First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide (Part Two)

In part two, we will explore three more components of the first-time homebuying experience so you can embark on it with ease and confidence. Each magnificent tip below is brought to you courtesy of Your First Home (Second Edition), authored by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

Equal Housing Logo

NMLS #1025894

Consumer Access

Keller Home Loans is a division of Mutual of Omaha Mortgage, Inc., NMLS ID 1025894. 3131 Camino Del Rio N 1100, San Diego, CA 92108. AL Consumer Credit License 22123; AK Broker/Lender License AK1025894. AZ Mortgage Banker License 0926603; AR Combination Mortgage Banker/Broker/Servicer License 109250; Licensed by the Department of Financial Protection & Innovation under the CA Residential Mortgage Lending Act, License 4131356; CO Mortgage Registration 1025894; CT Mortgage Lender License ML-1025894; DE Lender License 028515; DC Mortgage Dual Authority License MLB1025894; FL Mortgage Lender Servicer License MLD1827; GA Mortgage Lender License/Registration 46648; HI Mortgage Loan Originator Company License HI-1025894; ID Mortgage Broker/Lender License MBL-2081025894; IL Residential Mortgage Licensee MB.6761115; IN-DFI Mortgage Lending License 43321; IA Mortgage Banker License 2019-0119; KS Mortgage Company License MC.0025612; KY Mortgage Company License MC707287; LA Residential Mortgage Lending License 1025894; ME Supervised Lender License 1025894; MD Mortgage Lender License 21678; MA Mortgage Broker and Lender License MC1025894; MI 1st Mortgage Broker/Lender/Servicer Registrant FR0022702; MN Residential Mortgage Originator Exemption MN-OX-1025894; MS Mortgage Lender 1025894; MO Mortgage Company License 21-2472; MT Mortgage Broker and Lender License 1025894; NE Mortgage Banker License 1025894; NV Exempt Company Registration 4830. Licensed by the NH Banking Department, Mortgage Banker License 19926-MB; Licensed by the NJ Banking and Insurance Department. NJ Residential Mortgage Lender License 1025894; NM Mortgage Loan Company License 1025894; NC Mortgage Lender License L-186305; ND Money Broker License MB103387; OH Residential Mortgage Lending Act Certificate of Registration RM.804535.000; OK Mortgage Lender License ML012498; OR Mortgage Lending License ML- 5208; PA Mortgage Lender License 72932; RI Lender License 20163229LL. RI Loan Broker License 20163230LB; SC BFI Mortgage Lender/Servicer License MLS-1025894; SD Mortgage Lender License ML.05253; TN Mortgage License 190182; TX Mortgage Banker Registration 1025894; UT Mortgage Entity License 8928021; VT Lender License 6891; VA Mortgage Broker and Lender License, NMLS ID #1025894 (; WA Consumer Loan Company License CL-1025894; WI Mortgage Banker License 1025894BA; WY Mortgage Lender/Broker License 3488. Toll Free #: (877) 978-1922. Subject to Credit Approval. For licensing information, go to: