Making an offer on a property you like
Once you have found the property of your dreams, the next step is to make an offer.
If you are submitting your offer to an agent you can usually do so verbally, either in person or by phone, or in writing. If you initially submitted your offer verbally, you may be asked to send a confirmation across in writing, usually by email these days, for their records.
The agent is then obliged to pass the information to the vendor (the current owner) for consideration.
It helps to tell the story of what makes you a good buyer, highlighting why a seller should choose you, and don’t always assume that just paying the asking price will be enough.
- Be Ready – knowing how much you can afford and being able to supply the evidence to confirm it (your mortgage agreement in principle) will show that you are a reliable, organised and serious buyer. Have your solicitor in place so you can give the agent their details at the same time as submitting your offer.
- Chain free – First time buyers, buyers with no chain and buyers who have pre-arranged mortgages will often have a head start on most of the competition, especially where the seller is in a chain.
- Speed – if you are chain free and organised you should be able to complete the transaction quickly. Be sure to check if the current owners are in a hurry to sell or have been trying to sell for a long time. If so, they may be willing to accept a lower offer to make the sale.
- Price – Some vendors are not in a hurry and simply want to maximise the price that they can achieve. Sellers who are not in a hurry to move are more likely to hold out for a higher price or asking price offer.
- Be confident – Even if your offer is not at the asking price, don’t apologise. The offer is what you are prepared to pay for the property.
If your initial offer is not successful, there could be a couple of rounds of offers and counter-offers back before an agreement is made. An agent is required to be transparent with you and will let you know if there are other people that are interested.
Knowing your budget ceiling is crucial so decide your maximum limit from the start and stand firm. If the seller refuses to budge, you need to think very carefully if the property really is worth the extra money and of course, what you will have to live without over the long term.
Do your homework and check what the property is truly worth. Whilst sold house prices can help give an idea of recent sales, it’s better to see what the competition is like now. If there are few similar properties for sale in the area, chances are the seller has the upper-hand. Also, if there are any faults or repair work required, use this to justify a lower offer. In tougher times when there are fewer buyers, sellers may be more willing to negotiate on price.
Once you make an offer make it clear that it is:
- Subject to contract (STC) – the final sale takes place only when lawyers have exchanged legally binding documents
- Subject to survey – this allows for the cost of any faults or issues to be taken into account once your surveyor has checked the property out
Once your offer has been accepted, make sure the estate agent has taken the property off the market and is no longer advertising it for viewings.
If someone else is interested and views it, you risk someone else coming in with a higher offer, which is known as gazumping.
You should receive a letter from the estate agent confirming your offer. If you don’t receive this then make sure to ask for one.