Home Matters with Yvonne
Selected A Home, Let's Make An Offer
By Yvonne Hefner
Mar 1, 2003 - 3:12:00 PM

LOS ANGELESDuring the month of February, in Canyon News territory, approximately 140 single-family homes were listed for sale and approximately 1,016 closed escrow. Also, during this time period there were approximately 140 properties listed for lease and approximately 540 residences were leased. Economists continue to expect 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates to average 6.2 percent during the first half of 2003 before rising to 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter. January home sales in Southern California were strongest in 1989 and up 3.4 percent from last year. Million dollar home sales in California rose to record levels last year. Several reasons contributed to the surge. Many homes that would have sold for less than a million dollars a year or two ago are now selling at prices above the million dollar threshold, pushing the statistics up. However, fewer Californians can afford houses. The percentage of households in California able to afford a median-priced home decreased by five percentage points in December compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, apartment rents are expected to increase about 12 percent through mid 2004.

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Photo by Kibiwot Limo

Although the real estate market is still fast paced, make your offer carefully. Have your Real Estate Agent do a Comparative Marketing Analysis to see if the house is priced fairly and also to know the approximate limit if you offer over the asking price. Read the Purchase Contract thoroughly. While it is perfectly acceptable for the Real Estate Agent to fax the contract to the buyer and you are excited and anxious, READ, READ. January 2003 the California Purchase Contract was revised. The purchase contract is legally binding and every statement must be understood by the buyer. Any questions or any points that are unclear, ask your Agent before signing or inquire to a legal representative. Have a complete understanding of the contract. The contract includes but is not limited to the purchase price offered by the buyer, length of the escrow, when the buyer will take possession of the property, buyer financing details, contingencies which the buyer and seller must adhere to, determinations as to what the buyer will pay for and what the seller will pay for including termite work. The contract also gives options for resolving disputes and damages possibly incurred. While your Agent should be able to explain the Purchase Contract, your Agent cannot advise the buyer or seller, only an attorney. In the new Purchase Contract, the buyer's lender or mortgage broker must verify in writing to the seller the buyer's down payment and closing costs within a specified number of days after acceptance. It is advisable for the buyer to sign a termite work addendum, which will clearly explain what the buyer intends to pay for and not pay for. The buyer must also sign a Buyer's Inspection Advisory, which advises the buyer to have varied types of inspections for the property.

When submitting the offer, the offer must be accompanied with a deposit of money, which would be, at the very least, three percent (3%) of the offered purchase price. This deposit must be made in the form of a signed check, which can be a personal check. This deposit is needed for the Purchase Contract to be a valid offer. It is advisable that the offer also be accompanied by a letter from the buyer's lender or mortgage broker stating that the buyer is pre-approved for financing. A seller wants to be as certain as possible prior to accepting an offer that the buyer is financially able to purchase the property. A contract negotiation may involve several counter offers. The Counter Offer replaces the original offer with changes in terms. Rather than preparing a whole new Purchase Contract, most sellers prefer to use a standard Counter Offer form. This form allows the seller and buyer to accept the remaining agreed to terms and conditions of the original agreement. The seller can never change the Purchase Contract on its face by crossing out sections or adding new information. The counter offer must contain a clause stating that all of the conditions of the original Purchase Contract are acceptable except for the listed new terms in the Counter Offer. The original Purchase Contract and the Counter Offers will have definite stated response dates and times for both buyer and seller. Should the seller not respond to the buyer's original Purchase Contract within the stated date and time, the Purchase Contract is deemed null and void. Should the buyer not respond to the seller's Counter Offer (if any) within the specified date and time, the Purchase Contract and Counter Offer is considered null and void.

Time is of the essence during contractual negotiations. Acceptance of an offer, meaning an agreement of terms between the buyer and seller, cannot be interpreted by silence. Acceptance of an offer must be absolute with signatures dates and times by both buyer and seller. Until next time, home matters.

Yvonne Hefner, a licensed Real Estate Agent, can be reached at 323-650-8812 or at yvonne@canyonnewspaper.com



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