Q.I'm looking to buy my first home, but I'm not sure how much to offer. Should I go straight in at the asking price, offer more to improve my chances, or offer less to give myself breathing space? There may be other interested buyers- I'm worried if I offer too littleI might miss out.
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There are some tell-tale signs, however, that can indicate whether you should play it cool or go in with a generous figure straight away.
Estate agents fight for commissions and sometimes a high valuation helps win over the client. This means houses often sell for less than the price they are originally listed at.
When Which? analysed 370,000 properties sold in England and Wales in the year to September 2016, we found the average sale price was £256,534 - significantly lower than the average listing price of £262,068.
You can get a sense of the property's true value by looking at the sale prices of neighbouring homes. Make sure to compare apples to apples by looking at properties with similar features, positions and upkeep.
It's worth considering a lower offer if the property has been on the market for a long time, or if it's in need of significant improvements. Check online to see how long the property has been for saleand whether it has been discountedin the past.
Speed can be a factor too. If the seller wants to move quickly and you're able to offer a purchase, it can be in everyone's interest to get the deal over the line. Chatting to the estate agent - or the owner directly, if possible - can help you get a sense ofwhat their priorities are.
Before going in with a lower offer, weigh up the risks involved. Selling a home can be an emotional process, and sellers may feel insulted if your offer seems cheeky. You also risk losing out to other buyers with more money to spend.
For desirable propertiesin sought-after areas, competition between buyers can be fierce.
In these instances, weigh up your options and stay level-headed. Going in with an over-the-top offer could cost you more down the line. If you pay above the odds, you may find your property's market value flatlines over the years, or even decreases.
Be aware that the bank's valuer may disagreewith the price you paid, in which case theymay not lend you the full amount. This may mean the sale falling through after your offer is accepted, a worst case scenario for everyone involved.
Try to find outfrom the real estate agent whether other buyers are considering an offer, and what their circumstances are.If a seller is choosing between two or more buyers, bidding more money is one way to setyourself apart.
However, also consider what else you can bring to the table. For example, do you have a higher deposit? Or have you already got your mortgage agreement in principle, meaning you can get the purchase through quickly?
If your offer is accepted, it's worth trying to get the agent to change the online listing and 'for sale' board on the property. They don't legally need to do this, but it can help reduce the chances of being gazumped.
In exceptionally competitive markets, all interested buyers may be asked to submit a sealed bid to the seller by a set date.
This usually involves providing a sealed offer letter with your highest bid and details of anything that makes you stand out as the best choice.
Alternatively, you might be asked to supplya 'best and final offer' by a set date. The main difference between these and sealed bids is that a best and final offer doesn't need to be formally submitted in an envelope, and can instead be sent by email.
Don't let the pressure get to you - submit the highest price you're comfortable paying, taking into account what you know about the property. Whilelosing to another buyer is always a risk, so is paying more than you can afford or than the property is worth.