How Do I Write A FSBO Offer Letter?
June 6, 2005 10:42 PM   Subscribe

So, I'm thinking of putting an offer an a "For Sale By Owner" (FSBO) house. Having never bought a house without the assistance of a realator, and being interested in trying it out alone, I find myself in need of writing an "offer letter." Anyone have any example offer letters, or know where I could find some on the internet?

Things I know I need to have in there:
the offer price
how much the earnest money is going to be
contingencies (home inspection, and possible underground oil tank are the only ones I'm really worried about...)
the fact that I'm pre-approved and going to pay for the house with a loan
the closing date

If you don't have examples for me to go off of, is there anything else I've forgotten. I sure wish I could find the previous offer letter I used in the past that my realator wrote for me. I'll give him a call tomorrow but thought I'd check with you guys. Google isn't helping me... Thanks.
posted by pwb503 to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here are some.
posted by agropyron at 11:18 PM on June 6, 2005

Don't do it alone, there are too many liabilities that you don't know about. Usually sellers pay an agent's commission, not buyers. So Hire a Good agent, and let him negotiate & work for you - at no cost to you
posted by growabrain at 12:54 AM on June 7, 2005

A buyer's agent may or may not be willing to help. In my experience the buyer's agent negotiates to be paid a portion of the commission from the seller's agent. They are free to come up with whatever deal they want. If the FSBO seller does not want to pay any commission, then you'd have trouble finding an agent to do the work.

Add to your list of things to include in the offer sheet a real description of the property. In case it's not obvious, I don't mean "really nice 3br with a gabled roof" - by description I mean the lot number and location information from the registrar's office or whoever it is who keeps that information where you live.
posted by mikel at 5:08 AM on June 7, 2005

And even if you don't use a realtor, please please still use an experienced real estate lawyer. It's too eassy to get screwed without proper legal assisstance.
posted by raedyn at 6:13 AM on June 7, 2005

I second the suggestion of getting a real estate lawyer. Or else find a realtor that will do the paperwork for an hourly fee instead of a commission (ask the realtor you worked with last time).

There are a lot of technicalities about how forms need to be filled out and what the legal language needs to be. Also, the rules vary greatly by locality, so if you find a sample offer letter that isn't tailored for your state, it probably won't be acceptable. In some places, you have to fill out a form, not write a letter.

And if you make a mistake in your offer letter, you could risk losing your earnest money if the sale doesn't go through.
posted by clarissajoy at 10:24 AM on June 7, 2005

I bought FSBO without a realtor, and although there were no legal or money problems there were later issues over stuff like utilities (plumbing & electric), septic tank access, etc that would probably not have been issues if a realtor had been on my side.

Although it's FSBO that doesn't mean _you_ have to do without professional help, just that the seller is trying to save the fees they'd pay for professional help

Iirc here in CA the seller pays both their and your realtor fees which are 3% each, so your realtor would be paid by the seller, i think... so no reason to go without.
posted by anadem at 10:50 AM on June 7, 2005

Of course if your using a realtor and that 3% in unacceptable to the seller he may refuse your offer.
posted by Mitheral at 2:32 PM on June 7, 2005

Get an experienced local realtor. His/her fees will more than pay for itself out of the discount you're likely to get on the property with proper help.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 6:16 PM on June 7, 2005

A Good agent will be able to get the Fisbo to accept your offer and get paid at the same time, And close the escrow without getting sued or creating a mess that needs to be cleaned later, even when the Fisbo claims that he doesn't want to pay. (I've done it hundreds of times)
posted by growabrain at 7:38 PM on June 7, 2005

Get a real estate lawyer... just for the paperwork. I believe they charge flat rates based on the paperwork filled out, as opposed to a commission based on value of the house, so you will save money but will be sure everything is done proper and legal.
posted by Doohickie at 8:16 PM on June 7, 2005

You might want to check what's available from Nolo Press - both general advice on making an offer and a complete book on buying a house (specifically in California, but Oregon, where you are, is unlikely to be that different for the basics, like getting a home inspection).
posted by WestCoaster at 8:31 PM on June 8, 2005

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