Welcome to Centers and Squares

As a Cambridge real estate agent, the city squares of Cambridge, Somerville and Medford and the town centers of Arlington, Watertown and Belmont, Massachusetts are my home turf. And as a lifelong New Englander who’s lived within twenty miles of Boston most of my life, I can introduce you to other nearby towns as we search for your new home. If you’re planning to sell your home in Cambridge, MA or nearby you’ll find plenty of info about the home selling process here too. Questions? Send me an email or call me at 617-504-1737.

How To Make An Offer On A House Or Condo

Making an offer to buy a home

Making an offer to buy a home

How To Make An Offer On A House Or Condo   You’ve found the property you really like, the one that seems just about perfect, the one that feels like home when you open the door.  What happens next? 

How do I make an offer to buy real estate in Massachusetts?

We’ll want to meet in person, if at all possible, when you’re ready to make an offer.  It is possible to put in an offer when you’re out of state or out of the country – using email or fax and phone we’ll be able to fill out the forms.  However, if you’re local it’s definitely best to meet in person for about an hour or so – longer if we get to talking at length- or stressing! – about the many details.

You’ll need to bring two things to our meeting – a copy of your lender’s pre-approval and a check.  The seller expects to see evidence that you qualify for a mortgage sufficient to purchase the property so a current pre-approval letter needs to be submitted. The offer is accompanied by an initial deposit, also called an earnest money check.  In the Cambridge area a $1000 deposit is customary.  In a multiple bid situation you may decide to increase that initial deposit.  Your check cannot be cashed unless and until your offer is accepted.  That $1000 will go towards your down payment on the property.

In Massachusetts, the home buying process has two steps – the initial offer and the Purchase and Sale contract or P & S, typically signed about 10 to 14 days after the initial offer.  The P & S is drafted by your attorney and the seller’s attorney.  When you sign the P & S you’ll be putting down an additional deposit, typically enough to equal a total deposit of 5% that goes towards your down payment.  Sometimes that deposit amount will vary and we can talk about your situation and strategy when we meet. 

In Massachusetts the Offer to Purchase real estate is typically a one-page form.  Not that you’re going to get off that easy – there are a number of other required forms but the main details can be spelled out on one page.  On that main page we’ll specify the amount you’re offering to pay for the home, the amounts of your deposits, the contingencies of the sale, and the dates for the transaction.  When we meet we’ll talk about what’s customary, what if anything we know about the seller’s desires, and what works for your schedule and write the offer accordingly.

We’ll decide on a deadline for your offer.  In Cambridge it’s customary to ask for a response within 24 hours, or sometimes even more quickly.  Again, it’s a strategy and something we’ll talk about when we meet.  It’s not uncommon to learn after we submit the offer that the seller needs more time to respond and you can opt to extend the deadline.  Customarily the sellers will respond in a timely fashion – so you won’t be on the edge of your seat for too long!


Have more questions?  Feel free to email me or call me at 617-504-1737.  And if I can help with your real estate search I’d be delighted.  My coverage areas include Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, Belmont, Medford, Watertown and nearby communities.  If you’re moving out of the area I can refer you to a great agent who can help you find your next home.

Categories: Buyer Info

  1. Marte Cliff

    This is so interesting! In Idaho it’s a one-step process. The buyers and their agent meet and fill out many, many pages on a purchase and sale form, which is presented to the seller.

    Attorneys very rarely get involved unless the closing is done at an attorney’s office instead of a title company.

    It’s no wonder that people moving from one part of the country to another tend to be confused about the process, the people involved, and even the terminology.

  2. Elizabeth Bolton

    Hi Marte ~ So true! State by state things can be quite different. Years ago my parents made a move from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. After their offer was accepted my mother kept waiting for the second step (truth be told because she was having second thoughts) that never came. And we’re what they call an “attorney state” – almost always each party will have an attorney – ideally a real estate attorney. When you see the piles of documents you have to sign at the closing you realize why.


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