Fabulous! You’ve found the perfect home and want to put in an offer. Before we can put an offer in on a home, there are a few things we need you to email to us:

Full legal name:   Please email us the full legal name of anyone who will be on the contract as well as their phone number and email address.  The legal name has to match what is on your driver’s license as you’ll need to show your driver’s license or passport at closing and this name needs to match what is on the contract.

Initial offer price:  What initial price do you want to offer for the home?  Let’s have a discussion about the sale to list price in the neighborhood if we haven’t already as that will tell you a lot about whether you should expect to pay below asking price, asking price, or above asking price based on today’s market. I will also email you comps to review and give you my opinion as to what the home is worth.

Your walk away price:   Don’t expect to pay your initial offer price as it’s extremely rare for a seller to accept your initial offer without some negotiating back and forth.  That’s why it’s called an initial offer.  In addition to deciding what offer you want to put in to start, you need to decide now how much you’re willing to pay for this property and what your walk away price is before thing get heated and emotional.

Closing date:  Typically in Chicago, closing takes place around 45 days from contract acceptance. Closings can only take place Mon – Fri; they cannot take place on weekends or bank holidays when the banks are closed. 

Sometimes you can ask for a longer closing date (60 – 90 days) depending on the seller’s needs, but don’t expect it to be granted.  Therefore, if you want to move around July 1, plan on putting in offers May 10 – 15. While some local lenders we use can do closings faster (usually 21 days is the fastest a closing can be done with a mortgage), most lenders can’t close that fast and need 30 – 45 days.  If you want to close faster than 30 days please let me know as we’ll need to direct you particular lenders in town who are capable of closing quickly. 

If you’re not getting a loan and are paying 100% cash you can close as quickly as 14 days. 

Before putting in an offer, please email me what exact date you want to close on the home (remember it has to be a Mon – Fri). We don’t recommend closing on a Monday as Monday closings increase your chances of wire fraud issues.  Usually we cannot specify a specific time for the closing as that depends on when the attorneys and title company are available so plan to take the entire day off of work as a closing time won’t be assigned until 2-3 days before closing. Closings can take place anytime from 9am – 4pm and usually take 2-3 hours. If you cannot attend closing, we need to know that 2-3 weeks in advance so we can ask the lender to approve a Power of Attorney so a family member or your attorney can sign the documents on your behalf.

Earnest money:  How much earnest money are you comfortable putting down on this property? Typically, contracts in Chicago ask for 10% of the purchase price as earnest money if the property is over $1M and 5% of the purchase price if the property is less than $1M. 

This earnest money is broken up into two payments. Generally the first payment is due 1 business day after you and the sellers have signed the contract and is typically $1,000.  This money is refundable if you do the inspection and decide to walk away from the contract based on the inspection results.

The second earnest money payment is due 2 business days after the inspection and attorney review is completed, which is generally about 1 – 2 weeks after everyone has signed the contract, depending on how long the inspection negotiations take. 

The earnest money is part of your down payment.  Therefore, if you’re planning to pay $40,000 for a down payment and you’re paying $15,000 in total earnest money then at closing you would owe an additional $25,000 for the remainder of the down payment since you already paid $15,000 up front.

Down payment:  For the contract, we need to know how much you’re going to put down for your down payment.

Closing cost credits:  Do you want to ask the sellers to pay any of your closing costs? Generally the sellers pay their closing costs and the buyers pay their own closings costs, however, we can ask the sellers to pay some of your closing costs on top of theirs, if needed.

Home warranty:  Do you want to ask the seller to provide a home warranty on the property? If the property doesn’t have multiple offers, we always recommend asking the seller to provide you with a one year home warranty.  Depending on the type of property you’re buying, this usually costs the sellers between $500 – $800.   Here’s more information on what a home warranty is

Contingencies:  Any other contingencies we need to be aware of? Do you need to sell your current home before we can buy this home? 

Lastly, buyers sometimes want to know what happens if the contract is accepted and they have a change of heart or the inspection reveals a huge problem.  Read here for information on getting out of a signed contract

Want to review the contract in advance?

Click here to read the Chicago condo contract

Click here to read the Chicago single family home/townhouse contract

Click here to read the suburb contract

Once we’ve talked through the above and you’ve emailed us your answers, we’ll write the contract and have you sign it via a program called DocuSign.  Click here to watch a video on signing documents electronically via DocuSign.  We’ll then submit it to the seller’s agent.  While negotiations sometimes go quickly, be prepared that it often takes 2-4 days to negotiate the purchase price and terms of the contract.  Every seller is different and some people can make decisions quickly whereas others need time to think things through. Patience is the name of the game once an offer has been submitted as we don’t want to look too eager as it weakens our negotiating position!

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.