Accepting an Offer on a House
Receiving offers on your house is an exciting time, but it can be too easy to just accept the first offer you get without taking the time to think it through.
Many buyers will first offer between 5% - 10% below the asking price, opening it up for negotiation. Last year, many sellers sold their homes for 3.9% below the asking price, so it’s important to be realistic with your prices.
We work with property experts to bring you the latest house moving content. In this article, Compare My Move talks through the process of considering and accepting an offer on a house, from things to consider before you accept an offer to should you accept the first offer, we cover it all.
I Have Accepted An Offer On My House What Next?
Once you’ve accepted an offer on your house, the estate agent will draw up a Memorandum of Sale. At this point, you will need to hire a conveyancer and begin the conveyancing process as the property will now be labelled as under offer.
Your property solicitor or conveyancer will be responsible for the legal side of the sale and will prepare the draft contract, plan completion day and exchange contracts on your behalf. The buyer should have also instructed their conveyancer to begin their conveyancing case.
It’s important to note that even though you’ve accepted an offer, the sale of your house won’t be legally binding until contracts have been exchanged and paid your solicitor fees for selling a house. Known as Sold Subject to Contract (SSTC), you are legally still allowed to receive and accept other offers.
For more information on Sold STC and Under Offer see: What is the Difference Between Under Offer and Sold STC?
Can I Keep My House on the Market After Accepting an Offer?
You can ask the estate agent to take your property off their website listings as this increases the chance of more offers coming in. Legally, you can still accept another offer if a better one comes in before exchanging contracts.
After accepting an offer and before contracts are exchanged, your buyer might get gazumped by another buyer who offers more, or they may pull out of the sale completely. If they pull out of the sale after exchanging contracts, they may have to pay fees for the inconvenience they caused you.
Things to Consider When Accepting an Offer
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to accept or reject the first house offer you receive. Even if you want to speed up the process and sell your house quickly, you should still take time to carefully consider your offers before deciding or before altering your asking price.
1. What is the financial position of the buyer?
The buyer should have their mortgage in place, or at least a Mortgage in Principle. This will give you the reassurance that they have had their mortgage accepted by their lender and can afford to go ahead with the purchase. Data from Market Financial Solutions (MFS) shows that 34% of buyers didn’t go through with a sale due to them or someone in the chain not having a mortgage approved in time. The Property Ombudsman Code of Practice states that estate agents are responsible for obtaining proof that the buyer has the appropriate funds to buy your house.
2. Are they part of a property chain?
If you’re after a quick sale, you should consider the position of the buyer who made an offer. If your buyer is a first-time buyer or a cash buyer, they will not be part of a property chain. This will significantly speed up the sale of your house, as they are not waiting for other transactions to go ahead. Buyers who have already instructed a conveyancer to begin the process will help ensure a quicker sale than if they are yet to arrange this.
3. Consider your own position - can you wait for more offers?
If your circumstances mean you need to sell your house quickly, accepting offers from a buyer who isn’t part of a property chain will be the best option. If there’s no immediate rush to get your house off the market, you should consider offers from all types of buyers, allowing you to hold out for higher offers. If you’re not happy with the offers you’re receiving, you could get a homebuyers survey to get a second opinion on the value of your home. This will also help you be aware of any hidden defects in your house that you could work on to help increase offers.
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Should I Accept the First Offer?
You should take the time to carefully consider the first offer you receive on your house. Your mortgage valuation survey will reveal how much your home is worth, so you’ll know if the offer is significantly undervalued. You’re not obliged to accept the first offer, you can either reject the offer, make a counter-offer or wait for more offers.
It’s common practice amongst many buyers to offer between 5 and 10% below the asking price, so don’t be surprised if the first offer you receive is low. Carefully consider what your counter-offer will be, only offering a figure that you’d be happy to sell your house for.
Data from Zoopla revealed that an increasing number of sellers sold their homes for 3.9% below the asking price at the beginning of 2019. However, more recently, most sale prices are between 95% and 99% of the asking price. Many estate agents will advise putting a higher asking price on your house, so you have room to negotiate the below value offers coming from buyers.
How Long Should you Wait to Accept an Offer on a House?
There's no set time to wait before accepting an offer on a house. If you're happy with an offer and don't feel the need to negotiate, then you should accept after careful consideration.
If you are unhappy with the offers you receive, or have none or just one offer, ask your estate agent to consider organising an Open House. This is a short event - usually lasting just an hour or two - where buyers registered with your agent are invited to a special time-specific viewing. It is common for this ‘event’ to encourage offers from rival buyers, spurred on by seeing the interest generated.
Can I Accept Two Offers On My House?
If you’ve accepted an offer on your house and the contracts have yet to be exchanged, you can still accept another offer from a different buyer, known as gazumping. Although legal, gazumping is not ideal for the buyer, as they would have wasted money on surveying costs and part of their solicitor fees.
Although rare, sellers can accept two offers and have their conveyancer send the contract to both potential buyers. Known as a contract race, whoever returns the contract back the quickest will go ahead with the sale. This is not recommended as it is just an added stress to both you and the buyer.
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Can A Seller Entertain Multiple Offers?
Your circumstances will decide if you want to accept the first offer or wait around for better offers. You will likely receive multiple offers on your house, even after you’ve accepted an offer. Data from Market Financial Solutions revealed that 31% of buyers missed out on buying a property due to gazumping, meaning as a seller, you should expect to receive competitive bids.
You can negotiate multiple offers as nothing is legally binding until contracts are exchanged. When it comes to accepting an offer and carrying out the conveyancing process when selling, you should really only be thinking about accepting one offer only.
Can I Reject a House Offer?
You can reject any offers you receive on your house, although it’s more common to go back to the buyer with a counteroffer. Although data shows that 39% of sellers are encouraged to accept an offer by their estate agents, only you can have the final say on whether you want to accept, reject or negotiate.
If there’s no room for negotiating the offer, you may wish to give a legitimate reason why you are rejecting the offer. Maybe you want to reject the offer because the buyer is part of a property chain, or they haven’t got their mortgage in place. If you give a reason for your rejection of an offer, it may be that the buyer can take alternative action and the offer will then be acceptable. Let your estate agent know your reasons behind rejecting the offer, and the buyer can learn from this.