So you’ve found a property you’d like to buy, hooray! Now comes the potentially tricky part – making an offer and getting it accepted. In this guide we’ll take a look at how to make an offer on a house and some of the things you should watch out for.
What to think about before making an offer
Making an offer on a house is usually done via the seller’s estate agent but before you do this, you should think about how much you would like to offer for the property and what your budget is (and maximum amount you can offer). If your initial offer is rejected you may want to increase the amount of your original offer but you should be careful to stick to your budget. Any offers you make should be ‘subject to contract and to survey’ which means that a survey has to be completed and contracts signed before the offer is legally binding.
Making an offer as a first time buyer
If you are a First Time Buyer or you don’t have anyone buying the property you are moving from, you’ll find you have a bit of a head start on getting things moving, as there is no chain. This also means you may have a favourable position when it comes to negotiating an offer with the property vendor so it’s worth letting the estate agent know upfront.
To prevent other offers being considered after yours has been accepted (sometime called ‘gazumping’ - see more about this below) you should ensure that your offer is also subject to the property being taken off the market straight away. Once an offer has been accepted you will receive confirmation in writing from the seller’s estate agent.
You’ve had an offer accepted – what happens next?
The vendor should remove the property from the market as soon as they accept your offer, but you may want to mention this anyway to make sure. It’s now key to move quickly towards obtaining a successful lending decision (sometimes called a ‘Decision in Principle’ or ‘Approval in Principle’) – this effectively shows that you have the necessary financing in place and have found a lender who is willing to provide you with a mortgage.
Once the offer and lending are in place, you can complete the formal mortgage application and arrange the necessary property valuations and surveys.
A word on property chains...
Once your offer has been accepted it often takes a number of weeks to complete the sale and move into your new home- especially if you are in the middle of chain of buyers and seller. This can be a frustrating time following the excitement of securing your property and anticipation of moving in, as you are waiting for vendors, solicitors, lenders and estate agents to complete various necessary actions before the sale can proceed. Typically this process can take between 4-8 weeks so it’s useful in this time to sort out packing non essentials, getting removal quotes and organise actions that will need to be completed when you move. It is also good to keep a to do list and a waiting for list specifically relating to your move, so you can ask the relevant parties for updates and ensure that you have completed all the actions you need to in order to proceed.
This is the name for offers on a property being considered after an offer from another party has already been accepted – this is more likely when the housing market favours those selling their property. It can be extremely frustrating and upsetting for homebuyers when this happens but it is legal and there is nothing to stop a vendor accepting another offer after they have accepted yours.
Making an offer in Scotland
The situation in Scotland when it comes to making an offer on a property is slightly different. Usually properties are marketed as ‘Offers Over’ as oppose to the rest of the UK where ‘Offers in the Region Of’ or fixed prices are used.
‘Offers Over’ can be confusing as it’s hard to quantify how much over the stated price you should offer to secure the property. It’s a good idea to get some advice about a realistic valuation from someone who understands the local property market, such as a solicitor. You can also check historical sales data from property websites to see what other similar properties in the area sold for.