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How to Make an Offer on a House in 2021

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Graham Norwood

22nd Nov 2019 (Last updated on 17th Jun 2021) 7 minute read

Making an offer on a house can be daunting, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. By doing your research and presenting yourself as a serious buyer, you’ll stand a higher chance of getting your offer accepted.

Knowing the reasons behind your offer and writing a letter to the seller can make your offer stand out from the crowd. Once your offer is accepted, you will need to instruct a conveyancer so they can start the conveyancing process.

Compare My Move have put together this guide on everything you need to know about making an offer on a house, from how to make an offer to how much below the asking price is safe to attempt.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Steps To Making An Offer On A House 2021
  2. How to Put an Offer on a House
  3. How Much to Offer on a House
  4. How Much Under Asking Price to Offer
  5. After Your Offer Has Been Accepted
  6. Next Steps of Buying a House

Steps To Making An Offer On A House 2021

You should spend some time considering your offer and the reasons why you’re making it before committing to the decision. 

Remember, there are many different ways to buy a house, so each method may require a different bidding or offer process. 

From the importance of doing your research to how to look like a serious buyer, we've provided a few suggestions on how to make an offer on a house in 2021.

1. Do Your Research

Research the area and any similar houses that have the same number of rooms and features. The big property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla may be listing similar properties to yours - although always remember that properties looking the same could be different, with extensions or parking or renovation work having made some more valuable than others. 

Find out how much similar properties sold for and try to base your offer around this. If you made notes during your house viewing, then don't forget to include those if you found any defects or potential issues that would affect the price.

You should also ask the estate agent if the seller has received other offers on the property, how much the offers were and why they were declined. You can then factor this into your decision, as well as into the total cost of buying a house.

2. Negotiate

Sellers will usually put their houses on the market for between 5% and 10% above the property’s actual value as usually buyers will first offer a lower price to begin the negotiation process.

Start with a low offer as you can always increase it if it’s not immediately accepted, but you can’t decrease your offer if you go in too high and potentially lose out on a better deal.

Don’t go straight in with your maximum bid as, if the seller comes back with a counter-offer, you won’t be able to go any higher. Be realistic with what you can afford.

3. Arrange a Mortgage in Principle and a Conveyancer

To let the seller know you’re a serious buyer who doesn't want to waste valuable time, start your mortgage application before you look at properties. If you make an offer and don't have a mortgage in principle, the chances of the offer being accepted or even taken are slim. 

Likewise, let the agent (and therefore the seller) know that you have a conveyancer selected. Again, this will show you’re keen to make progress with a deal.

With the Stamp Duty holiday coming to an end in 2021, many sellers are looking for a quick transaction and having these ready will help convince them that you’re a serious buyer.

4. Let Them Know You’re a Serious Buyer 

Explain why you offered the amount you did, how you factored in other houses nearby and their sold prices. 

If you offer a low amount, consider explaining the reason why. Perhaps the house needs serious repair work that will affect its value. This will prove that you’re serious about buying the house, therefore your offer will more likely be accepted. 

5. Chain Free Buyer 

If you’re a first-time buyer, are not part of a property chain or are a cash buyer, you’re going to have an automatic advantage over other buyers as this will likely be a quick conveyancing process. Highlight these facts about yourself and make them well known.

How to Put an Offer on a House

You should put your first and all offers in via your estate agent. It's their responsibily to take each offer to the seller and then come back to you on their decision. 

However, your main concern should be collecting evidence supporting your offer. You should always put your offer in writing through an estate agent - by letter, email or a recorded telephone call - and this will then act as evidence. Don’t put in an offer vocally without any proof of you agreeing to this with the estate agent. 

To make your offer stand out even more, write a letter to the seller detailing why you want to buy their house and the reasoning behind your offer. This will be a more personal approach, allowing the seller to get to know you a little bit, making you stand out over other potential buyers.

How Much to Offer on a House

Many people put their first offer in at 5% to 10% below the asking price as a lot of sellers will price their houses above the actual valuation, to make room for negotiations.

Don't go in too low or too high for your opening bid. If you make an offer that’s way below the asking price, you won't be taken seriously. Alternatively, if you go in too high, you’ll miss out on getting it for less.

The only reason you should offer more than the asking price is if you already know the seller has been offered that, or you can afford to pay more than the asking price if you're really set on the house.

Work out what your maximum offer will be and make sure you don’t get carried away by bidding more than you can afford.

How Much Under Asking Price to Offer

22% of sellers would accept an offer that is 5% under the asking price only if the buyer wasn't part of a property chain with a mortgage in place, according to research by Clear Score.

Another 52% of sellers would consider taking a lower offer, meaning you do have a good chance if you argue your case.  

While it’s common to make an offer on a house that is below the asking price, any offer that is unrealistically low will immediately get declined and you could be ruled out from trying again.

If you’re looking for properties worth over £500,000, you may have even more to gain by being prepared. We found that 88% of those selling houses worth more than £500,000 would either definitely, or at least consider, taking a 5% price cut if the buyer is chain free with an agreed mortgage.

You should provide valid reasons for offering a lower figure. Find out if there’s work that needs to be done or if any issues have been found that require repair work. You can then calculate the repair costs and take this off the asking price.

After Your Offer Has Been Accepted

Once your offer has been accepted, ask the estate agent to remove the listing from their own website and from the property to avoid future competition or disappointment. They may decline to do this - remember, they are acting for the seller not the buyer, so they want to keep the property online in case there is a higher offer, commonly known as ‘gazumping’.

By asking the sellers to stop marketing the property to avoid being gazumped will indicate you’re a serious buyer. You will need to make your offer subject to survey because if your property survey shows any damage to the condition of the house, you can then further negotiate the price after bad survey results.

Remember, the purchase isn't legally binding after the offer has been accepted. A Memorandum of Sale will be drafted by the seller's estate agent, but the offer is not legally binding until after exchanging contracts when the purchase is official. You can’t back out of buying the house after this stage without potentially losing your deposit.

Next Steps of Buying a House

Compare My Move bring you this article as part of our home buying guide. The next article in the series will tell you everything you need to know about what happens after your offer is accepted. To find out more read what happens after offer accepted.

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.

Graham Norwood

Reviewed by Graham Norwood

Property Journalist and Editor,

With over 15 years of experience in residential property journalism, Graham is currently the editor for both Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today.