How to buy a house Making an offer on a property
You may be desperate to secure the home of your dreams but, if you need to bring the price down to your suit your budget, it will take time and effort.
Deciding on your house offer
In a slow property market, it can be tempting to make a cheekily low offer. But be fair – you can slash the asking price dramatically but unless you give a good reason you risk losing the property you want. Value the property properly (see our guide to working out your house price) as this will either give you grounds to offer less or reassure you that the house is worth the asking price.
Understand how motivated the seller is – do they need to sell up sooner rather than later or do they have the luxury of being able to wait for top dollar?
Consider what the property is worth to you
Once you have some idea of the seller’s circumstances, consider what the property is worth to you. Does it tick all the boxes on your ‘needs and wishes’ list? If not, what would you have to change and how much would that cost? Can you legitimately reduce your offer? If it’s exactly what you are after it may be worth offering the asking price, especially if you don’t intend to move for several years.
You should also consider your budget.
Ask the estate agent whether any other offers have been made. The agent is not legally allowed to tell you how much any other offers were but may indicate whether or not they were close to the asking price.
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 are all invaluable.
You can make your offer to the agent either over the phone or in person at their offices. If you're offering the asking price, ensure they take the property off the market immediately and agree 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. If you require mortgage advice, the Which? Group offers an independent mortgage advice service that looks at every mortgage from every available lender. You can also find an independent mortgage adviser using Unbiased.co.uk.
Making an offer below the asking price
If your offer is below the asking price be sure to justify your decision. Examples of acceptable reasons for a reduced offer include:
- A similar property sold a few weeks or months ago at a lower price and the market hasn’t changed and the property doesn’t have everything you need.
- As you will be spending money on improvements, you can argue that you must save that amount on your initial outlay.
For more property advice, see our book Buy, Sell & Move House which contains everything you need to know to navigate the property maze.