Buying a house Making an offer on a house or flat
How do you decide how much to offer when buying a house - and when is it appropriate to offer below the asking price?
When you make an offer on a property, it is more likely to be accepted if it's based on your knowledge of the seller and the local market as well as the house itself.
While a bit of haggling is often to be expected, don't offer so little that you enter a lengthy negotiation process, as you might lose the property altogether if someone else makes a higher bid.
If there have been other offers on the property, the estate agent can't legally tell you how much they were for, but they may indicate whether they were close to the asking price, which will also help to inform your own offer.
- Before making an offer on a property, you should consult a mortgage adviser to find out how much lenders might be prepared to let you borrow. You can speak to an expert at Which? Mortgage Advisers for independent, tailored advice by calling 0808 252 7987.
Expert video: how I decided how much to offer
Which? mortgage adviser David Blake and property surveyor James Rangeley explain how they used their industry knowledge to decide how much to offer when buying their own homes.
Comparing properties to calculate a suitable offer
In order to work out what would be a sensible offer for a property, make sure you compare multiple properties in the neighbourhood.
It's worth writing down the vital statistics for each property you visit - dimensions, condition, number of rooms etc - in order to get an idea of whether its asking price represents good value.
Our checklist details each of the factors to take into consideration when assessing the value of a property, making it easy to compare each home you view.
Making an offer below the asking price
The asking price does not always reflect a property's worth. Be proactive and research the local market to get an accurate picture of what the house or flat should really cost.
Common reasons for offering less than the asking price include:
- a similar property recently sold at a lower price and the market hasn’t changed
- there are some repairs or improvements that would need to be carried out for you to be happy in the home
- the seller has a motive to complete the deal as soon as possible, for example if they need to move quickly due to a pregnancy or job
- the property has been on the market for a while and no one else has made an offer recently.
It's worth bearing in mind that many people find selling their home very emotional and you risk insulting or upsetting them if you go in too low. Before putting in that cheeky offer, think carefully about whether the saving is worth risking losing your dream home over - and whether you're being fair.
Find out more: how to value a property - read our sellers' guide to understand how asking prices are calculated and whether the home you're viewing is worth the price tag
When to offer the asking price (or more)
If the property ticks all the boxes on your ‘needs and wishes’ list and isn't overpriced, it may be worth offering the asking price straight away - especially if you don’t intend to move again for several years.
Those competing with lots of other bidders might even want to consider putting in an offer above the asking price, especially if you’re likely to be waiting a while for another property of that type to come onto the market. When we surveyed 1,990 recent home buyers in 2015, a third of those who paid over the asking price cited competition as the primary reason.
In fact, in thriving property markets where bidding wars are common, it's more than likely you'll have to bid above the asking price to land your dream home, so make sure you factor this into your budget.
Find out more: gazumping and sealed bids - tips on how to cope in competitive buying situations
Making an offer to an estate agent
When it’s time to make your offer, your research into the value of the property, your understanding of the seller’s circumstances and being clear about your own position (especially if you're chain-free or are a cash buyer) are all invaluable.
You can make your offer to the agent either over the phone or in person at their offices. Either way, it's worth also putting your offer in writing and agreeing a provisional timescale to work towards for completing the purchase.
Make sure that the price you're offering is subject to a survey and getting a mortgage, so that after your offer is accepted there is still the opportunity to revise the amount you pay, and also state that it's subject to the property being taken off the market and not being shown to anyone else.
Find out more: buying through estate agents - learn more about your rights and the fees involved.
- Mortgage reviews - find out which are the best and worst lenders
- Buying and selling a property - our hub contains all the information you'll need
- Which? Money Helpline- get advice on property sales and purchases
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.
Which? Limited (registered in England and Wales number 00677665) is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited (registered in England and Wales number 07239342). Which? Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited. Registered office: 2 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF.