Selling a Home? 3 Things to Look for in a Buyer

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 19, 2021 - First published on April 1, 2021

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A realtor shakes hands with a senior couple in front of a For Sale sign and house.

Image source: Getty Images.

Here's how to find a buyer you can be happy with.

Given that housing inventory is at a record low and attractive mortgage rates have created a surge in buyer demand, now's a good time to be a seller with a home on the market. But while sellers may have the upper hand, it's still important to find the right buyer for your home. Here are three factors to consider when deciding whether to accept an offer.

1. An attractive purchase price

In today's housing market, many homes wind up in bidding war situations, where multiple buyers duke it out, driving up the price. Your home may not necessarily wind up in a bidding war, but in this market -- if you've priced your home reasonably -- you can, for the most part, expect to get your asking price. So if a buyer makes an offer below your listing price, you may want to look for another buyer who offers your full listing price or even a little more.

Say you've listed your home for $350,000, and that's a reasonable price given your home's size and condition. A buyer who comes in at $340,000 in today's market may be wasting your time. On the other hand, if a buyer offers your asking price, or comes in even higher at $355,000, that buyer is worth considering.

2. Mortgage pre-approval

You may find a series of buyers who offer you well above your home's asking price. But if those buyers' mortgages fall through, they won't be able to buy your house after all.

A better bet may be to focus on a buyer who has been pre-approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval doesn't guarantee that a mortgage will close without a hitch, but it does mean a lender has verified a buyer's financial information and has determined that the buyer is qualified to borrow a certain amount, provided nothing changes (meaning, the buyer doesn't lose a job or take a credit score hit).

3. Flexibility on a closing date

You may want a certain amount of flexibility with your closing date. For example, if you list your home in March but don't want to close until June because you have children and don't want to disrupt their academic year, you will need a buyer who will accommodate that. And a buyer willing to work around your schedule is one worth taking seriously.

In today's housing market, you may be lucky enough to find buyers willing to throw money at you to purchase your home. But not all buyers are created equal, so take all of these points under consideration when deciding whose offer to accept. An offer that's $5,000 higher than everyone else's may not be your best bet if the buyer behind it isn't flexible on a closing date, or isn't pre-approved for a home loan. Take a look at the big picture, so you can wind up with the right buyer and a smooth transaction from start to finish.

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