Making an offer on a property

When you find a property that you really like, even love, it is time to make an offer.

Before you make an offer

Before making an offer on a house you should do some research and have some fundamental things in place:

  • A mortgage agreed in principle
  • Unless you are a cash buyer, you should have accepted an offer on the property you are selling – sellers won’t take you seriously otherwise (unless they’re desperate)
  • Find out how much similar properties in the local area have recently sold for
  • Ask how long the house has been on the market, or how quickly the sellers want to move. They may be prepared to accept a low offer if they want a quick sale or the property has struggled to find a buyer.

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Things to consider when making an offer

Keep your emotions in check when viewing a house – if a vendor knows that you have fallen head over heels in love with their property, they are more likely to hold out for a higher offer from you.

Don’t let your heart rule your head. If you have a budget stick to it. Offering more than you can afford may get you your dream home, but it could turn into a nightmare if the bills are too much.

How to make an offer on a house

How much should you offer?

The research you have done will help you get a feel for the level to pitch your offer. If the estate agent has told you that other buyers are interested, you might feel that you want to offer close to the asking price. If you think there is less competition for the property or the sellers want a quick sale, it may be worth offering 2-3% lower than the asking price.

Making an offer before selling your property

It is possible to do this, but unless a seller is desperate to accept an offer they are unlikely to consider yours. Not having your property under offer means that you are not in a position to proceed with a purchase. Estate agents and sellers may only allow you to book a viewing if your property is under offer. If there is high demand for a property ask yourself why a seller would choose to accept your offer?

How to submit your offer

It is usual practice to make your offer for the property over the phone. An estate agent will usually ring you soon after a viewing anyway. You could confirm your offer in writing via email, but this is not necessary until an offer has been accepted.

What happens after the offer?

After submitting your offer an estate agent will contact the vendor and get their response. The agent will let you know very quickly whether it has been accepted or not. If it hasn’t it will be up to you to decide what to do next; whether to make an improved offer or to end your interest in the property.

Frequently asked questions

Can I make an offer without a mortgage in principle?

Again, it is technically possible to make an offer a house without having agreed a mortgage in principle with a mortgage lender. However, it is seen as more or less essential by sellers when reviewing offers. It confirms that a lender thinks that you can afford the repayments on a mortgage and is willing to offer you a mortgage in principle for the amount required to buy the home in which you are interested.

Can I make multiple offers on different houses?

You can do this, but again it is fraught with ethical issues. What if the offers on both properties are accepted? Assuming you only want to buy one house, it won’t go down well with one of the sellers if you withdraw from one of the prospective purchases. Although nothing is legally binding until you exchange contracts, buying a house brings with it certain responsibilities. If the sellers are in a chain other parties are involved, potentially spending hundreds of thousands of pounds, so you will not be very popular.

It is always best to focus your attention on one property at a time when making an offer on a house.

Can I offer over the asking price?

There is no science to making offers on a property. Most opening bids will be lower than the asking price, but you will have to judge whether the property is priced fairly, how much interest it is attracting and how much you want it. Starting your bidding at over the asking price could encourage the seller to reject your offer – not because it is too low, but because they think they can get more from you.

Should I get a mortgage in principle before making an offer?

It is always advisable to have made an initial application with a mortgage provider. It proves that you can afford to fund the prospective purchase and indicates to the seller that you are serious and not wasting their time.

Next steps: Once the offer has been accepted

You should ask the agent to take the property off the market as soon as your offer is accepted. Check that they have done this. If they are still marketing the property you should ask why. You will need to instruct a solicitor and make a formal mortgage application.

Contact your local Felicity J Lord branch for help with your property search

If you are interested in buying a property contact your local branch today.