Monday 1 August 2016

Buying a House – Putting in an Offer

This post follows on from my ‘Where to Start’ post and is the second in the series. I hope this helps you if you are currently looking to buy a house yourself! After viewing multiple houses as I spoke about in my last post we were ready to make an offer. It took us nearly 4 months to find somewhere after around 7 different house viewings between us. Any houses we liked the look of we arranged to view them through the relevant estate agents. When we found one we REALLY liked, we emailed a link across to the adviser for him to check and see if he agreed with the asking prices and what the maximum he thought we could afford to offer.  He then gave us a decision in principle which is valid for 90 days so we could go back to the Estate Agents with an offer. This was daunting, our adviser was very helpful with explaining step by step what needed to happen (if you’re from Norwich and you’re looking for someone, drop me an email!).

When it comes to putting in an offer – be wary about sneaky Estate Agent tactics. We viewed a property that had been on the market for a good few months and suddenly when we showed interest the estate agent told us they’d “received an offer”. Whether this was true or not is hard to say. I personally think they only said this to gauge how high we would be willing to go and what our budget was. It is likely your first offer will be declined. As Kirsty and Phil say, if you’re not embarrassed by your first offer then it’s not low enough! Many houses are priced 5%-10% higher than they are worth in order to allow for people to offer under the asking price. I believe that you shouldn’t want your first offer accepted as it means you could have tried to go in lower! Bear in mind you may make offers on multiple houses before you find “the one”. Stick to your top budget and be prepared to walk away if you get out-bid. The right house is out there waiting.

The first offer we made on a house was around 6% lower than the asking price. We would have went lower but we were told the offers were between us and another couple and the highest one would win. I still don’t know if this was a tactic or the truth but the mystery offer was never heard of again after we put ours in. With that in mind we went at what we thought it was worth and within our budget. We called the estate agent with the offer and he said he would pass it onto the seller. It took a good 2 weeks of to-ing and fro-ing with the seller, the estate agent and us before we finally got an answer that our offer was accepted. We were congratulated by the estate agent and we were told to get the ball rolling with the next steps. 5 minutes later they called again to say the seller wanted more money and had changed their mind so we decided to walk away, we didn’t want to pay any more. The estate agent said in all of his years of doing the job he has never had someone change their mind so quickly after having 2 weeks to think about it. At the end of the day we were the only offer and if they’d rather have no money than less money then I think it’s their loss! Over a year later it is STILL sat on the market – where was the other mysterious offer they had on it then? I was just pleased we hadn’t spent money on expensive surveys before they changed their mind. I believe everything happens for a reason.

The next house we found was even better and we were more cautious with the offer as we didn’t want to lose it. We offered 7k under asking price. They then came back with a counter offer which we agreed and it was accepted, 4k off the asking. We didn’t want to lose the house or negotiate further so we went with our gut and what we were happy to pay. All of this took place within a couple of hours, a lot less time than the first house. As soon as we saw this house I knew it was the right one and I was so pleased that we didn’t get the other one. I could really picture myself being there but had to hold back because so much can still go wrong.

After your offer has been accepted it is possible that someone can come in with a higher offer. This is called “Gazumping”. As soon as your offer has been accepted, put it in writing and ask the estate agents and the seller to take it off the market. This will reduce the chances of your offer being beaten. Things can still go wrong at this stage. Just because your offer has been accepted doesn’t mean the house is yours! You can lose it right up until the exchange date. There is still a long way to go.

The next stage is get a solicitor in place. Our financial adviser kindly arranged this for us and we moved onto the next step…


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