Making an Offer on a House: A Guide to Keeping Your Sanity


We have an accepted offer on a house! It’s a 1988 square foot two storey house in a suburb outside of Nashville, Tennessee. While we’re excited, the process of making an offer and waiting to hear back from the seller was excruciating! It took me to the limits of my sanity, I lost sleep over it, and it was just brutal. Here’s how it all went down, and how we remained (somewhat) calm and got through it.

We made the offer: We viewed the home on Tuesday, and made the offer on Wednesday afternoon. We offered $15,000 lower than asking price, because of the comparibles in the neighborhood (your Realtor will find similar houses that recently sold and base the offer on the price of those houses). Coming up with a price was difficult, but it seemed like we were right on with the other prices in the ‘hood. Here’s some more information about coming up with the right offer price.

The “counter-offer process”: This part is all about waiting – and guessing. We didn’t hear back until late the next night (even though the offer expired at noon that day), and the seller countered at full asking price but was willing to pay closing costs. Because we felt that would still be overpaying, we countered back at $10,000 less than asking price, with closing costs. We had no idea what he was willing to get for the house, so it was a best guess.

We gave him 24 hour to respond. Finally, his Realtor emailed our to say he’d “verbally countered” with our $10,000 less asking price, but no closing costs. So we said “OKAY!” and signed an offer on Saturday afternoon. We had agreed to all of his demands, and all he had to do was sign.

Waiting for final offer acceptance: This, by far, was the worst part. We had to wait almost four days to hear if our offer had been accepted. I had a good meltdown during that time, because we were pretty much powerless as we waited. It’s an awful position to be in! On Tuesday morning, we got confirmation our offer was accepted. Hurrah!

Why the seller isn’t getting back to me: Firstly, it’s a Realtor’s legal obligation to present an offer to a seller. So never think “They never got the offer.” That’s rarely the case. Chances are, they’ll eventually get back to you either way. Our Realtor told us that the “it’s my house, you’ll work on my time” attitude is pretty common. A seller may not be getting back to you because they’re waiting for:

  • A better offer to come along
  • An open house to happen (that happened to us, they waited the full weekend to get back to us)
  • Another showing to happen
  • Still making their mind up
  • Finding a chance to sign the paperwork and send it back
  • Just making you wait, because they feel like it (which is the worst) 

We coped with the stress of waiting for the contract to be signed by doing a few different things.

  • Looking for other houses: Yep, we still looked every day on MLS to see what else was out there. It helped us to know that there were other houses available if this one didn’t come through.
  • Keeping in contact with our Realtor: We didn’t want to bug her daily, but I feel like that’s what we probably did. I’m okay with that, I’m not good at waiting and communication was key to me feeling calm and confident about our offer. Sometimes it’s just good to hear someone say “This is normal.”
  • Talking to friends and family: It was great to vent our frustrations to friends and family. My dad said “You should tell the seller that every day he makes you wait, you’ll take $1,000 off the price.” While not at all realistic, it was funny and made me feel better. It’s good to have other people in your corner, and being a voice of reason.
  • Go drive around the neighbourhood: We spent one afternoon just driving around the area, getting to know the back roads and seeing what was around. It really just gave us something to do, instead of sitting around waiting.

Waiting for an offer to close is brutal, and it’s really only the first of a few steps in homeownership. But it’s well worth it. Check out the first step in first time home buying here.


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