Making an offer on a property (for properties in England and Wales only)

Increase your chances of getting your offer accepted

You've found your perfect home, you've saved a deposit and obtained a decision in principle… now it's all about making the right offer at the right price. Do you put in a high offer to secure it and pay over the odds or put in a low offer and risk losing out to another buyer?

Whether you're buying through an estate agent or bidding at a property auction, we're here to guide you through the ins and outs of the crucial offer process. From deciding on a starter offer to handling sealed bids, you'll know what to expect and what to do to help improve your chances of an offer being accepted.

10 top tips for making your offer count

  1. Don't reveal to the seller how keen you are on the property
  2. Let the seller know if you're a cash buyer
  3. Start negotiations by offering 5%-10% under the asking price
  4. Stay cool, calm and polite at all times
  5. Make sure your offer is subject to survey and getting a mortgage
  6. Don't get carried away and pay more than your budget
  7. Make an offer on the condition that they take the property off the market
  8. Get your finances in order in advance
  9. Ask if other offers have been made
  10. It can pay to negotiate directly with the seller

2 important things to know before you buy or bid

  1. Decide on your budget: buying a home is an emotional investment, so it's vital that you're not tempted to overstretch your finances to secure the deal.
  2. Decide what the property is worth to you: you don't have to offer the asking or starting bid price if there are legitimate reasons not to.

Buying through an estate agent

Estate agents are legally obliged to tell you the truth about the property you're thinking of buying, but they won't always volunteer all the information you need. So to help you decide what the property is worth to you, here are some questions you should be asking before you make an offer:

  • How much are similar properties in the area selling for? (You can find this information online)
  • How long has the property been on the market? (You can find this information online)
  • Why is the owner selling?
  • What is the minimum price the owner will accept?
  • Have there been any other offers?
  • What is included in the sale (e.g. is the garden shed and greenhouse included)?

How to make an offer

You can make your offer to the estate agent over the phone or at their offices. By law, they have to pass on every offer they receive to the seller, but it's also worth putting it in writing to avoid any confusion.

If you offer the asking price Tooltip: Definition: The price at which a property is being advertised. , insist they take the property off the market at once and agree a provisional timescale from now until completion.
If you offer less than the asking price Tooltip: Definition: The price at which a property is being advertised. , give them valid reasons why (e.g. a similar property sold at a lower price, you need to spend money on improvements etc.)
If your initial offer isn't accepted, you can increase your offer by as much and as many times as you decide.

What if I'm asked to make a sealed bid?

Sometimes a seller may think they can get a higher price for their property if they ask all interested parties to make their offers by sealed bid. If this happens to you, it means you have one chance to make your best offer, in confidence, by a set date.

Some do's and don'ts:

  • DO stick within your agreed budget
  • DO find out how many other bidders there are
  • DO double check the agent's bidding rules
  • DON'T miss the deadline
  • DON'T presume the highest offer will be accepted

Bidding at auction

Auctions can be a great way to buy a property at a competitive price and cut out the time and expense of estate agents. If you're the highest bidder when the hammer falls, you could own a property in minutes so you'll need to obtain a survey before the auction to ensure the property is suitable. It may seem straightforward, but to avoid huge unexpected costs it's vital to research the property, the market value, the bidding process and your financial responsibilities.

Preparing for auction (before the day)

  • Read the auction catalogue carefully and decide on the properties you're interested in
  • View the properties before the auction
  • Work out the cost of any repairs needed
  • Ask a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to inspect the auction pack
  • Arrange a mortgage decision in principle
  • Have a 10% deposit for payment on auction day
  • Know that buying at auction is a binding legal commitment

Preparing to bid (on the day)

  • Take two forms of ID, your cheque book and banking details
  • Check if you need to register to bid before the auction starts
  • Get a copy of the addendum sheet and check for any last minute changes
  • Place a bid clearly, by raising your hand of nodding your head
  • Bid as many times as you like, but don't exceed your agreed mortgage in principle amount
  • Pay your deposit to the auction house if your bid is successful