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18th January, 2017

What is the best strategy when making an offer?

Making an offer on a property is crucial for getting the best price. To make sure you get it right there are many approaches that you can put in place to avoid any problems.

We spoke to Fine & Country agents to find out their view on what they thought the best strategies were when making an offer.

Give all the information:

Matthew Craker from Fine & Country Brookman’s Park said: “When making an offer it is important that any potential buyer offers as much information as possible and actually puts themselves in the shoes of the seller. It is essential to confirm your buying position e.g. are you a chain free buyer, are you dependent on selling a property and, if so, do you have a buyer on that property along with your agents details? How are you going to finance the purchase? Are you a cash buyer or part cash/part mortgage? Either way it is imperative to show proof of funds and/or confirmation from your lender that they have agreed to lend you a certain amount of money.

“Some vendors even like to hear a reason why their home is wanted by a potential buyer. Is it going to be a family home for many years due to the children starting a particular school? or are you looking to buy because of a job move? Some people like to know that their loving home will be sold to the ‘right’ person.

“To conclude, the best strategy for making an offer is to include all the essential information as well as any other information you feel might be worthwhile, no matter how insignificant you feel it might be.”

Money matters and sell first:

Hove Park Road, Hove, £2,200,000

Jenny Owen from Fine & Country Brighton & Hove said: “Make sure you have a ‘mortgage arranged in principle’ certificate from a lender. It is always best to use an independent financial adviser to find the best mortgage deals and a good advisor will also be able to help you with a ‘cost of moving’ plan to ensure you’re confident about your budget. If you’re using the proceeds from the sale of a property in order to purchase one, try not to get too excited and start offering on properties before you have a buyer on yours. It can be really disheartening to see the property you’ve fallen in love with get snapped up by another buyer, just because you don’t have a buyer for yours. You’ll find that you’re in a stronger negotiating position when you yourself are ready to go ahead with a purchase, so get your property under offer first then start seriously looking.

“Obviously, there’s no harm in browsing the property websites and asking advice from agents to get an idea of what areas and properties you like as well as the average selling prices. However, when choosing an agent to sell your own property, always do your homework and chose one that offers a high quality service. Using an agent with a reputation for consistent high standards to sell your property means that the seller of the property you’d like to buy and their agent will feel more confident in you as a buyer,” says Jenny.

Confirm borrowing:

Sally Jackson from Fine & Country Norwich said: “One thing that we would always strongly recommend is to get your borrowing confirmed before you put an offer forward. An offer that is supported by confirmation of funding is always a good way forward!”

Prove you’re prepared:

Marstow, Ross-on-Wye, £900,000

“The best advice I can give to anyone making an offer is to be prepared. When you make your offer have everything in place, so not only will the agent and vendor know you are serious, they will also know you are genuine,” said Michael Berry from Fine & Country Ross on Wye.

“When we bought our last property we were up against five other interested parties. However, when we put our offer forward we made sure that our mortgage broker had also contacted the agent directly with a copy of our lender’s Agreement In Principal and proof of our deposit funds. We had also already picked a solicitor and gave their details to the agent too. There was no mistaking the fact that not only did we want to buy the house but, more importantly, we were able buy the house.”

Be clear in writing:

Peter Ford from Fine & Country Radlett said: “My advice is to be very clear about what you are offering. The amount, source of funds and what you would like included in the sale. Be direct and then follow up in writing.”

Consider improvement works:

Henry Durrant from Fine & Country Pembrokeshire said: “My biggest tip would be ‘do your homework’, on both the vendors and the property. Ask the agent why the vendors are selling to help determine their motivation to sell or to gauge if they would accept a lower than anticipated offer. It may be one of the three ‘D’s’ – debt, death, or divorce which may give you an indication how motivated a vendor is to sell. Asking how long the property has been on the market, and how many viewings or offers it has had will also help shape the story. You could even ask the agent or research sold prices in the same street or post code.

The property may also require some improvement works. Have these assessed and costed by professional tradesman and factor this into your costs you may want to evidence these necessary costs as part of the offer. If time permits, I would also advise getting a survey conducted at the property, and ask the surveyor to assess its value for you. Whilst the heart urges you to offer, use the head to make sure you are making a well-informed offer. Whilst it may take some time to complete these investigations, it will save time during the conveyancing process and the transaction will certainly be smoother. Communicate this with the agent, build up a rapport with them, they are more likely to take you seriously which they will share with the seller.

I would always recommend making the offer verbally to the agent over the phone, then without delay send an email to confirm the offer in writing. Keep it factual and to the point and sell your own position to the agent/seller to strengthen your case. All good agents will require proof of funds before a sale is agreed, highlight that you are able to evidence this quickly (such as cash savings, or a mortgage in principle document from a lender) or if you wish evidence this within the email.”

Research the value:

Great Staughton, St Neots, Cambridgeshire, £1,200,000

“The absolute key to making an offer is preparation. Firstly, a prospective purchaser should understand that the estate agent receiving the offer is acting in the interests of the seller, not the buyer,” explained Simon Bradbury from Fine & Country St Neots.

“Secondly, ensure that as a buyer you have proof of your position e.g a copy of a letter from your own estate agent confirming the position of any related sale. Proof of your finances and proof of your intended legal representative is also key as it is all too easy for a buyer to simply state that they can do certain things rather than proving it. An offer is much more likely to be accepted if it is accompanied with evidence of what is claimed by the buyer. The estate agent can reference this when speaking with the seller and it will add to your credibility as a buyer.

Make sure that you mention any caveats to your offer at the very beginning of negotiations so that they do not emerge as a problem later. Finally, do your research on potential value. What prices have other similar properties sold at in the locality? Is the property you are interested in purchasing better or worse in your view? Remember that ridiculously low offers are counterproductive.”

Background of a solicitor:

“I would strongly recommend buyers to telephoning their offer through to the estate agent. Where possible, try to speak to the same person that either showed them around or arranged the appointment to view. I would also recommend that they then confirm their offer in writing as this reduces the change of any confusion or misunderstanding. I would also recommend that the buyer speaks to an independent mortgage advisor prior to making an offer and obtain an AIP (Agreement in Principle) which in most cases means your offer on any property would be viewed more favourably by the homeowner and estate agent acting,” explained Gavin Human at Fine & Country Cambridge.

“Make sure you use a local solicitor that is fully aware of the area and can give you proper independent advice. If the estate agent selling the house recommends a solicitor, I would ask the estate agent directly if they receive any form of remuneration for recommending them and would also double check by asking the solicitor to see if they do pay the estate agent any form of referral fee.”

Make a realistic offer:

Stephen Binder from Fine & Country Lincoln said: “I would say that any purchaser’s offer needs to be balanced and accurately reflect the market value. Too often buyers, as part of the negotiating process, will offer a figure that is much too low and in doing so alienate the vendor. The important thing is that each party should feel goodwill towards the other. That way a sale will stand to survive any later difficulties that emerge.”

Think fast:

Edgar Blomeyer from Fine & Country Randburg in South Africa said:“As you’re compiling your offer to purchase, don’t think it over for too long, or you could be piped to the post. Make sure you ask for a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) before setting the initial asking price, many sellers get a comparative market analysis (CMA). A CMA estimates the current market value of the home by evaluating at least three or four recent sales of similar properties to the sellers in the surrounding suburb / suburbs.

“Before putting in an offer, ask an estate agent to conduct a CMA on your behalf. This gives you an up-to-date picture of your local market, which is particularly crucial if the home has been on the market for a few months. It also spots a home that’s obviously overpriced, explains Edgar.”

Compromise when putting in a low offer:

Fransche Hoek Estate, South Africa, ZAR 38,500,000

Linda Erasmus from Fine & Country South Africa said: “Do not insult the seller with a serious low offer. Use a slower approach if you seriously want the property. Sellers do come down in price, yet it takes time for them to realise that a certain price is not achievable. If your offer is low on price, try to compromise with all the other terms and conditions such as occupation date, deposit, eliminate adding too many other terms such as things that need to be fixed, painted or repaired as you request that the seller accepts less than the asking price. Avoid changing the standard terms of the agreement in specific terms referring to payment. The obligation of the buyer is to pay for the property and when the buyer alternate too many clauses regarding payment, you actually cause doubt in the seller’s mind about how qualified you are as a buyer,” concludes Linda.

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