HOW TO MAKE AN OFFER & SAVE £1000’s ON YOUR HOUSE
First time buyers are in a great position, no chain and flexible with completion dates.
Once you know how, you can save £1000’s on the price of your first home!!
Always start off with a bid lower than the asking price – the agent is obliged to inform his client of the offer made.
House prices are on the rise so know your limits before you start to bid. If you can’t afford to go beyond £200,000 then you need to be looking at houses in the £150,000 to £175,000 price bracket so that you can afford to bid up to a certain amount and still be able to factor in stamp duty and professional fees.
Before you make your opening bid ask if there is an offer already made on the house and what that offer is.
Bidding on a house is like playing a game of poker – you don’t want to reveal your hand too early. Remember that it is the agent’s job to get as much money as possible, for the property, on behalf of their client.
When the agent comes back to you asking for a counter offer don’t respond immediately, leave it a few days and don’t bid with your heart. Go through the figures and if the price is too rich for you then say so and stick to your previous offer. If there really is a counter offer the property has become out of your reach. If, however, there isn’t, it shows the agent that you can’t be pushed any further.
Don’t dismiss homes that have been on the market a long time – rather ask what the most recent offer on the property was. If you think it is worth it, offer a small amount more.
Don’t presume that once you’ve been outbid that’s the end of the story. Keeping on an agent’s books is vital, particularly if you have been making offers but losing out. Often offers that have beaten you can fall through in the end and it’s important that agents have the contact details of the next bidder in line ready and to hand.
WHAT TO FACTOR IN WHEN MAKING A LOW BID
While negotiating for a house can seem daunting, keep in mind that the seller is also probably pretty worried about getting the price they want. Circumstances can be in your favour, making it more likely the seller will accept a bid lower than the asking price – sometimes much below. This is especially the case:
- If the house has been on the market for a long time, which suggests they are having problems selling and other people think it is overpriced. Has the asking price dropped since it was put on the market?
- If the seller wants to sell quickly. For example, this would be the case if they are looking to buy a specific new house but are caught in a chain, or if they are having to move to follow a job
- If you are the only person who has expressed interest in the property – the seller will realise you are probably their only hope
- If you suggest a completion date that works for the seller
- If you can show you can act quickly, and are a more certain buyer. The seller will be less interested in someone who will take a long time, may not be able to raise the funds, and could pull out later. If you have your finances in place with a large deposit, then you will be much more attractive to the seller.
- Similarly, you are not in a chain because you are a first time buyer or have already sold your home. The seller will then not have to wait for you to sell your house before you can buy theirs, with the accompanying risk it might all fall through.
- If the estate agent is keen to get a quick sale. While the agent works for the seller and is looking to sell for as much as possible, they are often looking for a quick sale without too much effort, so that they can collect the commission and move on to the next job.
- If the seller is using multiple agents. The estate agent will then be more likely to want to persuade them to accept a lower price, to guarantee they get the commission rather than another agent
As with all negotiations, start low. A good rule of thumb though is to offer 5% to 10% lower than the asking price
- Don’t forget that sellers often take this into account and deliberately put their house on the market for more than they expect or would accept.
- The agent will normally tell you of any bids that trump yours, and give you a chance to offer a second or even third bid.
- You should only offer more than the asking price if you know the seller has already been offered that, or if you are really worried about not getting your once-in-a-lifetime dream home and you think there are lots of other buyers
- Stay polite and calm at all times. You’ll only alienate everybody if you get irritated
- Play hard to get, but stay realistic. If you think the seller is desperate, it is not in your interest to appear too keen
- Perhaps contact the seller directly and negotiate in person. But remember they could be harder to negotiate with that the estate agent who wants to close the deal as soon as possible
- Don’t be overly influenced by other things thrown in with the deal. For example, unless very new, second hand white goods are usually worth very little and its often less hassle to sell them with the house than move them
- While it is very tempting to offer an amount over what you would otherwise have paid to ensure you win the bid, it is important to stick to your budget
- If you do end up bidding more than the asking price your mortgage company may not cover you, so make sure you have adequate finances in place before bidding.
- Manage the process post-offer
Your solicitor will receive a written acceptance (qualified acceptance) from the seller’s solicitor. Your solicitor will go through the details of the offer in detail with you before responding to the seller’s solicitors on your behalf. This will continue until there are no outstanding points (for example if a full survey needs to be carried out).
Now a binding contract will be created. Please note that once this has been signed, neither party can pull out without a penalty. The solicitor at this stage will check all ownerships documentation (title deeds etc.) and will go through these all with you. In Scotland, deposits are rarely paid by the purchaser.
A new title deed (disposition) is required to transfer the title of the property into your name. This is prepared by your solicitor, checked by the seller’s solicitors and signed by the seller.
- Complete the Purchase
This is settled on the date of entry. The deeds are delivered to your solicitor, the price is paid to the seller’s solicitor and you get the keys to your new home. Your solicitor will then deal with all the Stamp Duty and Land Register requirements. When the relevant certificates have been issued, your solicitor will keep them for safe keeping or, dependent on the lender, they will be sent to the mortgage provider.
- Before you make an offer, take time to consider all the factors.
- Does the property and it’s location meet your requirements?
- If the property needs a lot of work for example and you don’t feel this has been considered in the price, you could try and negotiate.
- Some buyers are in a more favourable negotiating position. So if any of the following applies, be sure and let the agent know. It could make the difference between whether your offer or someone else’s being accepted!
- You are a first time buyer
- You are not in a chain (you haven’t got anything to sell before you buy)
- You have a pre-arranged mortgage offer
- Before you make an offer find out the seller’s position.
- If they have had the property on the market for a long time they may be willing to accept a lower offer.
- On the other hand, a seller who is in no hurry to move may be more prepared to hold out for a higher price.
Once you have found the perfect property, you then need to decide how to bid for it. Do you put in a high offer to clinch it, and risk wasting money? Or a low offer and risk losing your dream home? What are the best tactics to ensure you get the perfect property at the best possible price?
- Maintain close surveillance of the property market, and in particular be aware how much similar properties in the area are selling for, and how quickly they are selling. If they are moving very slowly, and going below the asking price, then you are in a stronger position to put in a lower offer.
- Agree with the agent a written list of which fixtures and fittings will be included. Having it in writing reduces the chances of disagreements later in the process.
How do I put in an offer?
- Tell the estate agent. By law estate agents have to pass on every offer they receive to the seller, however ridiculous. Some buyers try and unnerve sellers by putting in very low initial offers.
- It is a good idea to put the offer in writing (a telephone call followed up by an email will be fine) in order to reduce scope for confusion or argument later.
- If the seller is interested in your offer then the negotiations start. These are conducted via the estate agent. Note that this puts buyers at a distinct disadvantage – the seller has a professional negotiator (the agent) working on their behalf, while the buyer is left to their own devices. If are you worried about this, you can appoint a buyer’s agent.
After the offer has been accepted
- Even after an offer has been made and accepted by the seller, it is not legally binding on either side (in England and Wales; there are different rules in Scotland). Until the exchange of contracts either party can still pull out (although the buyer might lose their holding deposit).
- 1 in 10 people have experienced the seller pulling out of the deal after accepting their offer because they have received a higher offer from elsewhere. This is called “gazumping”, which is more likely if your offer is on the low side
- If you are “gazumped” you can potentially lose hundreds or even thousands of pounds in pointless survey fees, land search fees and solicitor’s fees
- There is not much you can do about it apart from counter-gazump (putting in a higher bid than the gazumper)
- Once a seller has accepted your offer, ask them to take the property off the market, which they should do if they are serious about accepting your offer. They do not have to, but if they do this will prevent other potential buyers butting into your purchase. If they don’t, then ask why they are still marketing their property, and be careful about spending thousands of pounds on surveys, solicitors and arranging mortgage