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What if my offer on a property is rejected?

Having your offer rejected on a property you really wanted can be disappointing, but don't let it be the end of your home buying journey. There are ways you can move forward.

What if my offer on a property is rejected?

It can be heart-breaking. You’ve saved for a deposit, you’ve searched for properties, found the one you are keen on, and put in an offer...only for it to be rejected. 

If this happens to you, don’t worry. In our experience it often means one of two things; you need to re-negotiate, or it just wasn’t the property for you and there is a better one around the corner. 

These are the key steps to take if your offer is rejected and you still want to buy the property: 

Why was I rejected?

The first job is to understand why the offer was rejected. There are typically five reasons for the offer being rejected, including when the seller:

  1. Receives higher offers 
  2. Wants the asking price 
  3. Doesn't think you have your finances organised 
  4. Wants to move in a short period of time
  5. Rejects your offer being based ‘subject to survey’ or other contingency

Your offer was rejected for a higher offer

Although frustrating, this is the easiest reason to tackle and it comes down to how much you want the property and whether you can – and should – offer more. 

For example, if you offered £150,000 on the property for sale, but others have offered £155,000 or more, ask yourself: can you beat their offer? And do you want to?

Be aware though, your lender will organise – typically at your expense – a valuation on the property, so do check that the final offer you make is one that is still reasonable and you aren’t paying ‘over the odds’ or it may be down valued by your lender and you could lose the sale after spending on conveyancing and a survey. 

A back-and-forth around pricing and offers is normal, but don't put yourself at risk. If you really can't afford it or can't come up with the extra money, it's better not to risk it.

The seller wants the asking price

If you've looked at the value of the property and put in an offer under the asking price, this may not be welcome news to the seller.

It’s amazing how much sellers fix in their minds that they want the asking price for a property, especially when they receive an offer – even if the property has been up for sale for some time. 

In this case, especially if there aren’t any other offers on the table, it’s worth holding back for at least a few days to let the offer ‘sink in’ with the seller as they may then accept it or come back with a reasonable counter offer that you can afford. 

Make sure you put in writing to the agent that you are keen on the property and if any other offers come in, ask if they can they let you know so you can consider a counter offer. 

The sellers don’t think you have your finances organised 

When advising sellers on accepting an offer, part of the advice is to look at who is most likely to be able to buy the property without any hiccups. Truthfully, this is most likely to be a cash buyer who doesn’t have to rely on the checks a mortgage lender will make. 

If this is the case, then speak to your broker or lender and show the agent and seller you have already secured a mortgage agreement in principle and this may well reassure them that you are as organised as you can be. 

However, there may always be scenarios where mortgages buyers lose out to cash buyers. 

The seller wants to move in a short period of time

Linked to organising your finances, it might be a cash buyer has made a better offer or a lower one, but the seller and agent feel that it’s more likely that the cash buyer will be able to complete quickly. 

If this is the case, it’s worth finding out from your broker how long the lender they are recommending typically takes to make a formal offer. They may be very quick, or they may be one of the well-known slower ones, in which case it may be worth letting your broker know part of your decision to choose a lender is based on a quick purchase. 

In this case, it might be worth speaking to the agent/seller and seeing if you can agree on a timeframe that works for them and then discussing the chance of this being achieved with your broker/lender and your conveyancing company. 

You will need to be on the ball when it comes to paperwork you need to sign, so make sure you put time aside to progress your move. Also, try not to go on holiday during this time as this can delay things by some weeks, which a seller that wants to move quickly is not going to like. 

The seller rejects your offer being based ‘subject to survey’ or other contingency

Ideally you want to make sure any offer made is ‘subject to survey’ or you might have another contingency request, such as wanting the seller to take the property off the market while you progress the purchase. It would be quite worrying if a seller didn’t want a property to be sold ‘subject to survey’ as this might suggest there are problems they know about but aren’t being honest about, so think very carefully before you remove this contingency. 

Another reason they might not want this to happen is that they are worried it will delay the purchase, so if you can find a surveyor who can visit the property relatively quickly, within a few weeks, they may be happy to accept your offer. 

Secondly, if the seller doesn’t want to take the property off the market, this should be another ‘red flag’ as it suggests they are hoping for a better offer and you may be opening yourself up to being gazumped

One way round this issue could be to put a timeframe on how long it comes off the market. For example, ask for it not to be marketed or other viewings to take place for 4-6 weeks rather than the full time it would take to purchase. This would allow you to do the work you needed to make sure the property purchase was right for you and supported by your lender. 

 

Having an offer rejected can, at the time, seem like the worse thing to happen, but it can also be a good thing. The seller may be trying to hide something that’s wrong with the property, or they may drop your offer at a later stage for a higher one, so you end up wasting money on conveyancing and surveys. 

The key is to take your time to re-evaluate whether this is the right property for you. Think about whether the price you are offering (and what the seller wants) is reasonable and indeed whether the seller is a realistic one or hanging out for a price they just won’t receive, which may mean after some months for this to sink in, you end up securing the property anyway. 

 

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