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    How To Negotiate A House Price

    By The reallymoving Team Updated 12th Jun, 2024

    Reviewed by Em Smith

    For First Time Buyers the opportunity to finally make an offer on the property of your dreams is one you will grab with both hands.

    How To Negotiate A House Price

    After spending months or years saving for a house deposit, finally placing an offer on a house is the last step to take before entering the buying process.

    In the period between negotiating a house offer and starting the legal part of the home-buying process, there are a few hurdles to be aware of.

    Here are a few pointers on how to liaise and deal with sellers, advice on understanding the seller’s mindset, and coping with a chain of sales.  

    Pre-offer advice

    When you find a home that meets your requirements you should check the seller’s asking price in relation to the local and national housing market.

    A quick look at Land Registry reports for houses in the same area can give you a rough guide as to what similar houses or flats in the immediate area have sold for.
    At this stage you may also want to check whether any surrounding properties have planning permission for any new developments that may affect your quality of living, or if there are development plans for local housing schemes.

    Although these “searches” will formally be done by your conveyancer later on in the process, knowing this information early on can be a useful in negotiating your house offer.

    If similar properties in the area have sold for less, or there are major developments planned that could impact your experience of living there, you might be able to justify making an offer that's below the asking price.

    Making your opening offer

    Don’t get too bogged down in comparing house prices of neighbouring properties – no property has a fixed price tag, and it is only worth what a buyer is prepared to pay for it.

    When making an opening offer on a house you may want to bid as much as 10% lower than the asking price. This is likely to be knocked back by the seller, but both parties can use this offer as a starting point for future bids until an agreement is reached.

    Seek advice from friends or parents with experience of the local area. Don’t feel you can’t bid a lower amount – the worst that can happen is that they decline the offer.

    Think about the long-term

    It’s common for First Time Buyers to consider emotions too highly in their decision-making process. It is the estate agent’s job to get the best price possible for a property (remember they work for the seller, not for you) so they will often go to great lengths to stress the lifestyle benefits of a property.

    However, you need to think realistically about how your lifestyle might change in the years you’ll be in the property.
    • Is there enough storage space?

    • How would living there affect your commute to work?

    • Who else might want this property and how easy would it be to sell in a few years’ time should you wish to move on?

    The old adage is to always try to buy the worst house on the best street, and this can certainly hold true.

    Use your head, not your heart

    Every street has a “ceiling price”, past which investment in a property in unlikely to add value when you come to sell. Consider this and ask yourself whether you are paying a premium because of your emotional attraction to a property, rather than its actual value.

    Buying a house is a major financial commitment, and it pays to be practical; if in doubt, take a step back and listen to your head rather than your heart.

    The response to your opening bid will depend on a number of factors –
    • how quickly the seller needs to sell

    • how long the property has been on the market

    • how many other parties have indicated an interest in the property

    Do remember that you can always increase your offer, however you can’t reduce an offer without good reason (for example, a survey revealing defects or damage).

    Negotiation can work to your advantage, but any offer you put on the table should be made in good faith.

    Ensuring a seller is receptive to your offer

    In order to appeal to the emotions of the seller you may wish to try and strike up a friendship or connection between both parties.

    Show an interest in their future plans whilst also impressing upon them how keen you are to buy their home and the reasons why the property fits your requirements so well.

    Selling property is a people’s market. Would you sell your property – a home with many treasured memories – to a buyer you thought unworthy of appreciating it in the same manner?

    Keep your negotiating power

    At the same time as seeming interested, it is important not to appear too keen, as the seller will know you will go the extra mile (and pay the extra pounds!) to get your hands on the deeds.

    Don’t walk around the property exclaiming, “This is the one! We’ve got to have it!” Your negotiating power will be immediately limited.

    If you are in any doubt, take a trusted friend who knows you, knows how you like to live your life, and who will give you an honest appraisal from a different perspective.

    Consider the property chain

    Aside from your own offer, the seller is likely to be involved in acquiring their own new house.

    As a First Time Buyers you are in a strong position to allow someone to move quickly into getting their next property, as you will not be in the middle of a chain. Therefore it’s very important to stress your position to the seller as well as the estate agent.

    If you are living at home with parents, have a mortgage agreed in principle and a conveyancing solicitor already in mind, then a seller wanting a quick sale might be more willing to negotiate with you on price than with someone in rented accommodation with six months still on their tenancy who doesn’t know their true mortgage budget.

    It is also highly recommended that you show patience and understanding if the sale is part of a moving chain – an act of goodwill is sure to be remembered favourably if a seller is faced with multiple offers on their property.

    Get your documentation ready in advance

    Also remember that when you make an offer, the seller’s estate agent will ask to see your proof of identity, so make sure that you have the necessary documentation to hand to avoid any delays. 

    Having an offer accepted  

    Whether it has happened quickly or been a long, drawn-out negotiation, receiving a formal acceptance of your offer in writing makes it all worthwhile.

    With around one in three house purchases falling through at some stage of the process, it is important to ensure your seller is made well aware of any terms and conditions of your offer.

    Liaise with your conveyancer to ensure that your offer is made subject to contract and a satisfactory survey, leaving you an escape route should the survey reveal anything that causes you to withdraw or revise your offer.

    If you'd like more advice on how to make an offer and on the home-buying process as a whole, our downloadable First Time Buyer Guide will tell you everything you need to know.

    What if my offer is rejected?

    Although it can be upsetting to have an offer rejected on a property that you really want, there are still options for you.

    First, you should figure out the reason your offer was rejected and see if this is something that can be rectified.
    Perhaps the seller has received higher offers or wants closer to the asking price.

    Consider if you can afford to give a higher offer

    If you are still interested in the property, you might decide to try again with a higher offer. It’s important you make sure that you can realistically afford to do this and should also consider if the property is worth the higher offer.

    You might decide that the property is not worth making a higher offer. This can be disheartening, but it could make way for you to find a property that is better suited to you.

    How to negotiate a house price FAQs

    What is a reasonable offer on a house in the UK?

    A reasonable offer on a house in the UK is usually from 5%-10% lower than the asking price. It’s important not to start too low as your offer will not be taken seriously, but starting too high will reduce the opportunity for negotiations.

    Can you pull out after offering on a house?

    Yes, you are able to pull out of a house sale at any point until exchange of contracts as there is nothing legally binding you to the sale until that point.

    Can I lower my offer after it has been accepted?

    Yes, you are able to lower your offer after it has been accepted. This may be due to survey results or information found during conveyancing checks. However, the seller might reject the new offer so it is important to consider this before reducing your offer.  

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