How Do I Make an Offer when Buying a House?
Once you’ve found the house you want to buy, it’s time to make an offer. This means approaching the estate agent or the individual seller and letting them know how much you’re prepared to pay.
But buying a house is one of the most important decisions of your life, not to mention probably the most expensive. So before searching for properties to buy on the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla, it’s worth making a list of what you want in a home, beyond its location. For instance:
- How many bedrooms do you want?
- Is there a garden?
- Is it close to supermarkets, a doctor’s surgery and a dentist?
- Is there a good school nearby?
- What is the local crime rate?
- Are there any proposed developments in the area?
After finding your ideal home to buy, we’d advise you to do the following:
- Monitor the local property market so you understand how much similar houses are selling for and the speed at which they’re selling. That’ll give you an idea of whether an offer lower than the asking price is feasible and give you a stronger hand in negotiations
- Find out from the estate agent what extras, such as fixtures and fittings, will be included in the sale and get written confirmation
- Make your offer to the estate agent. You’re not obliged to pay the amount being asked for by the seller and, regardless of how much you offer, the estate agent is legally required to pass your offer on to the seller. If the seller is interested, they’ll instruct the estate agent to begin negotiations.
- In open negotiations, start low with your offer and be mindful of your budget, so you don’t go over. Putting in an offer of 5% to 10% below the asking price is generally recognised as a reasonable starting point
- In the event the seller refuses your first offer, you can make an increased offer and continue doing so until it’s either accepted, the seller accepts somebody else's offer, or you decide to look for another property. As always, ensure you remain within your budget
- If the seller insists on a holding deposit as a condition of accepting the offer - where you must pay a small deposit to demonstrate you’re serious about buying the house - ensure that the deposit isn’t “non-refundable”. Otherwise, the seller is free to sell to somebody else and you may have to sue them to get your deposit back. You should give the holding deposit to the seller's Solicitor for safekeeping and get a written receipt of funds. Never pay the deposit to the seller themselves.
- Once the offer has been accepted, ask the seller to take the house off the market. This will help to prevent you getting gazumped - where the seller accepts a higher offer from somebody else. If they refuse to take the house off the market, find out why and remain wary until contracts have been exchanged and they can no longer back out without incurring a financial penalty.
- Get several Conveyancing quotes and compare these to see which property search fees and other fees are included, as many Conveyancing quotes offer a low headline price then add on additional fees. At Simpson Millar, the Conveyancing fee you are quoted is the Conveyancing fee you pay.
For more information on buying a house, get in touch with our expert Conveyancing Solicitors. We’ll aim to make the Conveyancing process as open, transparent and straightforward as possible from start to finish.
Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.