Making an offer on a house: Your questions answered

Discover the top considerations when making an offer on a house in the UK. Once you’ve been house hunting and think you’ve found the perfect property, it’s time to make that all-important offer. But how do you go about doing it, and what should you bear in mind? Read on to find out.

How do I make an offer on a house in the UK?

In the UK, making an offer on an available property is a simple process that starts with contacting the estate agent who represents the seller. You then simply inform them of the amount you wish to offer for the property. You will also need to answer any follow-up questions about how you plan to finance the purchase, etc.

The estate agent will then inform the owner of the property of your offer, which they will then consider. Then, either the seller will accept your offer, or a period of negotiation will begin. Again, any counter-offer you make, or the seller makes, will go through the estate agent.

In some cases, property sellers will ‘cut out the middle man’, and won’t use an estate agent to organise the sale. In this case, you simply contact the seller directly and discuss your offer with them.

How much should you offer on a house?

Making an offer on a house should be based on your budget, first and foremost. Before you make any offer, be sure that you have made an accurate calculation of what you can afford.

The amount you offer isn’t the only consideration of how much you will pay for the property. There are also things like conveyancing fees, stamp duty and legal costs to take into account. Make sure that you have a clear idea of the overall costs before committing to an offer.

How much lower than the asking price can you offer on a house?

There is no upper or lower limit when making an offer on a house in the UK. The asking price is purely an indication of how much the seller wants to get for it. Your offer can be as low as you like.

What is a ‘cheeky’ offer?

A ‘cheeky offer’ in property terms is an offer made markedly below the asking price, but not so low as to be dismissed out of hand. While a ‘reasonable offer’ differs greatly from person to person, anything more than 15% below the asking price is likely to be seen as being ‘beyond cheeky’. Hence, it probably won’t be accepted, unless the owner is particularly motivated to sell!

Should you offer the asking price?

Offering the asking price on a property for sale is the best way to show the owner that you’re serious about purchasing it. If you’re sure you can afford the asking price, it will make your offer much stronger than if you haggle.

Can a home seller reject a full-price offer?

A UK homeowner can reject an offer even if it meets the asking price. They can accept or reject any offer made to them, at any time, right up until the sale is concluded and contracts are signed.

They might decide to reject a full-price offer if they feel that there’s enough interest in their property to attract an even higher offer. For example, if there are multiple potential buyers, they may start a bidding war that goes over the asking price.

Do estate agents give all offers to property owners?

In the UK, estate agents are required by law to present their clients with all offers made on their available property. If you make an offer, whatever the figure, the estate agent must inform the seller.

Do sellers usually accept the first offer they get?

Property sellers will often accept the first offer they receive, but not always. Different sellers have different motivations. Some want to sell as fast as possible, whereas others are happy to wait to secure the best sale price.

Generally speaking, sellers want the sale to happen sooner rather than later. The longer a property is on the market, the lower price it’s likely to achieve. This is because buyers will assume that there is something wrong with it, or that there are difficult conditions involved in the sales process.

Also, if the sale drags on too long, the property may end up standing empty. This will cost the owner money and possibly cause other financial difficulties.

For these reasons, making an offer on a house early gives you a better chance of it being accepted.

How long do sellers take to consider an offer?

There is no set time limit involved when UK property owners consider an offer. However, estate agents will usually advise them not to take too long, as it is in everyone’s interest to secure the sale quickly.

Some buyers may come back to you almost immediately, others may want to sleep on it. Unless there are multiple offers for the seller to consider, you should expect to hear back about your offer within a day.  

How do I convince a seller to accept my offer?

Having the highest price is usually the best way to get the seller to accept your offer. This may involve upping your initial offer, if it’s under the initial asking price, or if other buyers are involved.

However, the size of the offer isn’t the only factor involved. As well as getting the most money for their property, most sellers want the sale to be as quick and easy as possible. If you are a ‘no-chain’ buyer, a cash buyer, or already have funding in place through a ‘mortgage in principle’, these are all factors that will improve the attractiveness of your offer.

Do you need a mortgage in principle before making an offer?

It is not a legal requirement in the UK to have a mortgage in principle in place before making an offer on a property. However, the seller is unlikely to take your offer seriously if you cannot prove that you can secure the necessary funds.

If my offer on a house is accepted, can the seller back out?

A property owner can change their mind and decide not to go through with an offer, even if they initially agree to it. In the UK, they are legally entitled to do this right up to the point of contracts being signed.

The most common reason for a seller to back out of an accepted offer is that they have been offered more money by someone else. This is called gazumping. Gazundering is a related practice – it’s when a seller accepts your offer and then waits until the sale is nearly complete before raising the asking price.

While legal, these practices are fortunately quite rare. If your offer is reasonable and your finances are in order, your accepted offer should be completed without difficulty.

Quick roundup: What to check before making an offer on a house

As a general checklist, before making an offer on any property, you should:

Check your financials: Make sure you can back your offer with the necessary cash and approved mortgage funds.

Be sure of the property: Have one or possibly multiple viewings to ensure that you’re making an offer on something that’s right for you.

Get your paperwork in order: If you have a mortgage in principle, much of your work is already done. Also, make sure you have any necessary supporting paperwork ready to move ahead, should the offer be accepted.

Know your next move: Be prepared for any eventuality. What will you do if your offer is rejected? Can you up your offer? If so, by how much? If not, can you appeal to the seller in another way? Have a strategy in your mind so you’ll be prepared for the owner’s answer, whatever it may be.

Good luck on your house hunting, and on making a successful offer on a house! If you need to know more about gazumping, gazundering, conveyancing or anything else related to offers and contracts, take a look at our guides section.

HomeViews provides verified resident reviews of the UK’s housing developments. We’re working with developers, house builders, operators, housing associations and the Government to recognise high performers and help improve standards in the built environment.

The post Making an offer on a house: Your questions answered appeared first on HomeViews.