Let's Make a Deal

You've got an offer from a buyer. Now what do you do?


For sale sign by house exterior

Photo by: Jupiterimages


By: Tammy Stoner

A buyer makes an offer, and you have accepted! This moment might bring more tears than the day you got engaged. And like an engagement, you may have the ring but you ain't married yet.

Earnest Money

Another similarity to an engagement: If things don't work out, you may get to keep the ring. In this case the ring is the "good faith" or "earnest" money. This money is held in a neutral account called an escrow for a specified period. If the deal goes through, the money is applied to the purchase price at closing. If the deal does not go through, it's possible the seller can keep the earnest money. There is no set amount for this nonrefundable earnest money, though it's often in the thousands of dollars.


Finally, escrow! Escrow is very much like Limbo --- a place where souls wait nervously with their prayer beads until they can make passage to their eternal reward. In this case, the payoff is a completed real estate deal. Passage to the better place occurs when the buyer can pay for the house and the seller can transfer title.

A person called an escrow officer handles the details on your (the seller's) end, including title search, record disbursement, paper statements, and the payout of fees and other costs.

Should You Get a Lawyer?

Even if you have a Realtor --- but especially if you don't --- consider hiring a real estate lawyer to look over the details of the deal. Or, at the very least, take a day to look over and question anything that seems odd on your reports before signing off. This is a big, big purchase.

Then, with pen held firmly in hand, sign on the dozens of dotted lines and Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! You win the grand prize --- your house is sold!

Keep Reading

Next Up

Consider Buyers’ Motivations When Making an Offer

Put yourself in a position of strength in multiple offer situations.

Build or Buy? Making the Right Decision

It's more than deciding on the right carpet-tile combination. Before you hire a builder or sign on a dotted line, read these tips to make sure you're getting the best house for your buck.

Anti-Checklist: What Not to Do When You're Making an Offer or Negotiating

Don't even bother trying to justify a lowball offer. (Believe me, the seller and their agent were well aware that there's an electric tower in the backyard when they set the asking price.) Avoid these buyer faux pas when offering on a house.

When Should I Make Major Home Updates?

Before taking on major remodeling projects, you may want to give yourself -- and your wallet -- time to recover from the homebuying process.

Making the Most of Your Home Warranty Coverage

Follow these three strategies to get the most from your home warranty.

How to Make an Offer for a House

Making an offer on a house isn't a total roll of the dice. There are some basic steps you and your Realtor can take to arrive at a price range and other terms that make sense.

10 MORE Ways to Make Your Home Worth More

Part 2: Ten more surefire ways to get the most bang for your buck.

How to Make the Most of Your Open House

Set your house apart with these simple tips.

Real Estate Survival Guide: Buyer's Checklist

Refer to this 10-step checklist to get you through the homebuying process.

Misuses and Misconceptions of Foreclosure

Foreclosure is a process, not a thing. These are the biggest misconceptions you need to know that can help you prevent actual home foreclosure.


Mexico Life

6:30am | 5:30c

Mexico Life

7am | 6c

Mexico Life

7:30am | 6:30c

Desert Flippers

8:30am | 7:30c

Desert Flippers

9:30am | 8:30c

Desert Flippers

10:30am | 9:30c

Desert Flippers

11:30am | 10:30c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Caribbean Life

1:30pm | 12:30c

Caribbean Life

2:30pm | 1:30c

Caribbean Life

3:30pm | 2:30c

Caribbean Life

4:30pm | 3:30c

Bahamas Life

5:30pm | 4:30c

Bahamas Life

6:30pm | 5:30c

Bahamas Life

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

My Lottery Dream Home

8pm | 7c

House Hunters

10:30pm | 9:30c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

My Lottery Dream Home

12:30am | 11:30c

House Hunters

1:30am | 12:30c

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.