When a buyer makes an offer on the home, his or her agent will contact us and make delivery of the offer. We’ll read over it carefully, making notes on anything we feel merits extra attention from you. Then, we’ll schedule a time to meet with you to go over the offer.

After you’ve read the offer and understand what the buyer is offering and any concessions requested, you’ll need to decide how to deal with it if there is anything in it that you won’t accept. You have four choices:

  • Accept the offer as it stands.
  • Counter the offer – A counter offer is a rejection of the offer as written but includes new terms for the buyer to consider. For instance, if the buyer asked for 30 days for the home inspection you may wish to counter with a shorter time limit. You will sign the buyer’s offer, subject to the counter offer, and the buyer can either accept, reject or counter your counter-offer.
  • Reject the offer – At the bottom of the purchase agreement is a space for the seller to reject the offer. It reads “Rejection of offer. No counter offer is being made. This offer was reviewed and rejected by seller on (the date you sign).” There is a space for your initials.
  • Ignore the offer — You are under no legal obligation to respond to an offer.

Of course we will be right by your side during this process. Should you decide to counter the offer, we will help you structure it so that your best interests are covered in full.

When the offer is finally accepted and signed by all parties, we have what is considered a ratified contract. We also have a ticking clock: time is of the essence here, but mainly for the buyer. You do, however, have some responsibilities.

If your home is in a managed community, you’ll have three days to request from the homeowners association a complete package of HOA documents for the buyer. We will assist you in procuring these documents.

You will also need to make the home available for the pest and home inspectors, for the lender’s appraiser and for the buyer to perform his or her final walk-through (typically within three days of closing). Ensure that the home is in the same condition at this point as it was when the buyer agreed to purchase it. If anything has changed, such as damage to the floors or walls, or items that you promised to leave are missing, it may hold up the closing until the problem is rectified.

You may also have to take care of state-mandated retrofits, if the home lacks them. These include the installation of additional smoke alarms and water heater bracing. We’ll need to provide the buyer with a written statement of compliance before the close of escrow, so the sooner these items are taken care of, the better.

If you will be selling the home vacant, all utilities must be left on.

Your mortgage company and any other lien holders will issue a payoff demand to the escrow company so that it is aware of how much to hold back from your proceeds to meet the demand.

The escrow company will then prepare a Closing Statement that outlines those payoff details and any other closing-related expenses and send it to you. All that remains for you to do is to sign the deed transfer and other closing documents. The seller will sign closing documents as well.

During the last few days you’ll be in the home, gather up all items that you’ll need to leave for the buyer. This includes the garage door opener, house, mailbox and pool keys, instructions for the pool, spa and irrigation system and any warranties with assignable rights.

When the escrow company receives the funds from the lender and you have received your proceeds, the sale is put on record at the Santa Clara County recorder’s office and it’s official – you can now move on to the next phase of your life.

All of this activity – from acceptance to closing – occurs during what is known as the escrow period.