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How to make an offer on a house
You’ve fallen in love with a property, but you want to get it for a good price. So, how do you decide what you should offer? And is it ever appropriate to offer the seller less than the asking price? Read our guide to learn more.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you can make an offer yourself just by calling the estate agent or popping into their office. However, if you’re buying in Scotland the process is a bit more complicated as you’ll have to hire a solicitor to do this for you.
Deciding what to offer
Before you put in an offer, you need to know how much you can afford to spend on a property. To get an idea, it’s a good plan to find out how much you’ll be able to borrow as a mortgage. Having a “mortgage in principle” will show the seller your offer is serious, but it’s by no means essential to have one.
Once you know roughly how much you can afford to spend, take a look at the asking price and decide whether you think it is reasonable. You can do this by comparing the price to other properties with similar features in the local area, such as the number of bedrooms it has and its general condition.
Remember, when you carry out a survey of the property – whether that’s the valuation offered by your mortgage provider or one of the more in-depth surveys – you’ll get a rough idea of whether the house is worth what you plan to borrow to pay for it. With the Homebuyer Survey and Full Structural Survey, you’ll also get details on potential issues and any urgent work that needs to be done to the property. This may influence how much you decide to offer.
If the property features everything you’re after, it hasn’t been on the market for long and the surveys don’t throw up any unexpected issues or faults, you may decide to offer the full asking price to give yourself the best chance of being accepted. In some cases, if there’s been a lot of interest in the property and it really is the home of your dreams, you might even wish to consider offering above the asking price – but only if you can afford to.
Offering below the asking price
After you’ve looked at the selling prices for similar properties in the area and carried out a valuation, you should get an idea of whether or not the asking price is too high.
If the survey uncovers faults or issues that will be costly to rectify, it’s a good idea to mention these when making your offer. The seller should be willing to negotiate on the price if you show them the proof there’s costly repair work that you’ll need to carry out.
It’s also worth considering at this stage how long the property has been on the market for. If it has been for sale for a long time and there has been little interest, the seller might be more willing to accept a lower offer so they can move on.
But, before you jump in with a low offer, it’s really important to consider the sellers of the property first. Offering drastically below the asking price can be quite insulting and may upset the seller, and if they have a few interested buyers you could lose out because of this. If you are going to offer below the asking price, try to reach a figure that is fair to both of you.
Manners go a long way
Alongside making a fair and reasonable offer, it also pays to be friendly and respectful to the seller when you’re in their home.
For example, if, when you’re visiting the property, it’s the sellers themselves showing you around, it really does pay to be friendly, interested and have a smile on your face. It may sound silly, but if there are two competing offers, how you came across during the viewing could be the deciding factor on the offer they decide to accept.
Remember, the seller may be finding selling their property and looking for a new home at the same time stressful, so a bit of care and consideration really could mean the difference between your offer being accepted or rejected.