Making it real

Daryl Jasperson, president of Re/max International in Denver, has a list to help home sellers decide whether to take their house off the market after receiving an offer.

Many buyers already own a home when they make a bid and few can afford to carry two mortgages. So it's critical to make sure your buyers are close to selling their other house. The farther down the list your buyers are, the better their offer:

1. The buyers are selling their home themselves instead of through a broker.

2. They have listed their home for sale with a reputable real estate agent. This should carry more weight than a for-sale-by-owner effort, Mr. Jasperson says, who has an understandable bias in favor of using an agent.

3. They've accepted another buyer's offer on their house.

4. They have a buyer who has removed all contingencies on the sale of their old home, and increased their deposit on yours. But even then, Jasperson warns, contracts can fall through unexpectedly.

5. The buyers have pre-approval, not just pre-qualification, for a mortgage to buy your house. Pre-approval means a bank has promised to write a mortgage, pending only a purchase-and-sale agreement, and an appraisal to make sure the house isn't overpriced. The bank has already checked the buyers' credit rating and employment. Pre-qualification means only that they meet the income limits needed for a loan.

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