As you go through this process, remember that everything is negotiable.
Everything should be in writing. You should be very specific when you prepare your purchase offer, and the seller should be equally specific when they issue their counter offer. Don’t make a verbal offer.
Don’t offer full price unless the home is a real steal. You need room to negotiate.
Make sure the contract includes an out in the event that you cannot secure financing.
Earnest money is typically between 6-10% of the purchase price, but less is possible. The money should be held by an attorney or title company in escrow. Such a deposit does not mean you’re bound to the contract. Your full deposit is credited toward the down payment and closing costs.
Once your offer is accepted, it becomes a binding contract, so be sure to include the necessary contingencies. Contingencies are clauses that, if not met, will render the contract null and void. Common contingencies are the sale being subject to approved financing, the sale of an existing home and/or a satisfactory home inspection.