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How to Negotiate a House Price

Written by Reviewed by Graham Norwood

19th Feb 2020 (Last updated on 21st May 2020) 9 minute read

Whether you’re excited or disappointed with the offer you’ve received, it’s important to understand how to negotiate offers on your property. From researching the property’s value to providing a counteroffer, there are a variety of steps you can take to help your negotiation. 

Compare My Move has created this guide to help you get the most out of your offer when selling your house. Take the time to think about the situation and don’t respond immediately. Negotiating an offer doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. Be confident in your response and carefully consider the counteroffer you’re presenting. 

This article will cover the following:
  1. Research How Much Your House is Worth
  2. Find Out What Stage the Buyer is At
  3. Get Feedback From Your Estate Agent
  4. Consider a Sealed Bid
  5. Throw in Extras
  6. Offer to Do the Repair Work
  7. How to Counter Offer When Selling a House
  8. How to Reject Offers on Your Property
  9. Save When You Sell a House with Compare My Move

Research How Much Your House is Worth

By now, you should already have had your property valued to help you set your asking price. However, if you’re still unsure and would like a second opinion, now would be the time to get a second valuation. This can then be used as evidence to accept, reject or negotiate the offer. 

Your estate agent should help you value your property. They will have a good understanding of the property market, the local area and recent sale prices. Ask your agent to show you details of comparable properties sold in the same area, so you can see the price they sold for. Agents will have this information even if the properties sold through rival agencies.

If you have more than one estate agent value the property and they all come to the same agreement, then you should aim to get the offer as close to the suggested value as possible. You can also use the Land Registry to get a basic valuation of your house and the properties in the surrounding area. 

Another option to help you understand the value of your property is to hire a surveyor and have a homebuyers survey conducted. This can be a good alternative if you don’t believe your estate agent’s value is accurate or if you want a second opinion. This will be more costly than a valuation but it can be a good way to rebuttal the buyer’s offer. Don’t forget to compare surveyors to ensure you get the best deal possible.  

Once you’ve completed your research and are happy that you’ve come to a reasonable value, you can determine if the offer provided by the buyer is fair or if it should be increased. 

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Find Out What Stage the Buyer is At

When negotiating an offer on your property, it’s also important to know if the buyer is actually ready to continue with the process. If possible, see if your estate agent can talk to them about their situation and see how prepared they actually are. A few questions you could ask include:

  • Are they a first-time buyer?
  • Are they selling a house as well or are they chain-free?
  • Is their house under offer yet?
  • Are they a cash buyer or do they need a mortgage?
  • How far along the mortgage application process are they?
  • Do they already have a conveyancer to begin the process? 

The more prepared the buyer is, the more reliable they will be during the process. For example, if they’re applying for a mortgage, they should’ve already secured an offer in-principle or can show they are close to an agreement with their lender. 

Lack of preparation can cause all sorts of delays for you and the process. If the buyer has a conveyancing solicitor, then the conveyancing process can begin immediately once you accept the offer. Also, if they’re also selling a house, knowing how far along they are in the process is very beneficial. The longer the property chain, the more complex the transaction can be. A buyer with a short property chain will make the process go much more quickly. 

When considering the buyer’s situation, don’t forget to also look at your own. Are you ready to continue forward? Do you have the necessary documents and help to begin? Make sure you compare conveyancers as soon as possible to move the transaction along. Here at Compare My Move, our partners go through a strict verification process so you know you’ll be receiving the highest quality services available to you. 

Get Feedback From Your Estate Agent

Next, you should ask your estate agent for feedback on the offer. If your estate agent has the necessary experience and knowledge, they should be able to advise you on what to do and whether the offer put forward is the best the buyer could provide. They should have the local knowledge needed to compare it to other local properties for comparison. 

They should also be able to tell you if there are other potential buyers interested with more appealing offers or if there are other buyers who are ready to go. If there’s not enough interest surrounding the property, they may advise you to stick to the offer put forward, especially if you’re looking for a quick sale or are worried the property won't sell. Your estate agents should also be the one to help you understand the buyer’s position and how prepared they are to continue with the transaction. 

Consider a Sealed Bid

If you have a lot of interest in your property, another option you can choose is a sealed bid. This is like a type of auction where your estate agent will invite interested parties to submit a single offer as their sealed bid. You can then either accept an offer or reject them all. 

The buyers involved must only present one offer. Because of this, many will often put in the highest amount they’re willing to offer, but not always. However, as the seller, you may not always wish to go with the highest bid. Other factors like whether they’re a cash buyer or have a smaller property chain could influence your decision.   

According to data by gov.uk, between 2013-2015 only 2% of buyers and 3% of sellers reported using sealed bids. Sealed bids usually work best with at least 2-3 serious buyers but few people are actually aware that it’s a possible process to help you buy or sell a house.

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Throw in Extras

If possible, you could always throw in a few extras when asking for a higher offer. If the extras included are worth it to the buyer, they may be willing to increase their offer. For example, if the buyer showed interest in a piece of furniture or specific fittings, you could offer to include them in the transaction. 

Of course, don’t include anything you want to take with you to your new home. But if something was going to a charity shop or was going to be thrown away after decluttering, why not use it to help your case? This can be especially persuasive for first-time buyers as they’re less likely to have everything they need in advance, compared to those with experience moving house. 

Offer to Do the Repair Work

You may have already done a bit of quick repair work when preparing your property for sale. However, the buyer may discover other issues that are affecting their offer. Whether it’s through a property survey or their own personal concerns, by offering to repair the issues yourself, you’re giving them an insentive to further negotiate the offer. 

If you don’t want to complete the work yourself, you’ll likely have to accept a lower offer to compensate for the future repair costs. Think carefully before you decide to offer to do the repairs as it may not actually be a cost-effective option if the work required is extensive. 

How to Counter Offer When Selling a House

When selling your property, you probably won’t want to accept a buyer’s first bid, especially if it’s a lot lower than your asking price. However, you should always expect to haggle and negotiate the price. Many sellers even add 5%-10% to their initial asking price, knowing that the buyer will likely lower it for their first bid, although this should only be done after seeking the advice of the estate agent.

Research conducted in 2019 by the property portal, Zoopla discovered that the gap between the average asking price and the average selling price in the UK has increased by 3.9%. This shows that British sellers are becoming more concerned about raising their asking prices too high, accepting lower offers to sell more quickly. 

With this in mind, you should be flexible and realistic when negotiating. Your counter offer will usually be lower than your desired asking price to help entice the buyer and not lose the sale. If the potential buyer is highly interested, they’ll remain engaged and continue to negotiate. However, never go far below what your property is worth. It’s inevitable that the price will be lowered but don’t forget your property’s market value throughout the negotiation. 

Here are a few top tips for providing a counter offer when selling a house:

  • Give yourself time to think it through
  • Speak to your estate agent and discuss the property’s value in relation to the offer
  • Set yourself a desired amount that you’re willing to work towards
  • Compare any potential repair costs to the offer provided
  • Review the local housing market
  • Don’t let your emotions take control

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How to Reject Offers on Your Property

If you’re unsure about an offer, don’t immediately reject it. Take the time to think the situation over and try to negotiate with the buyer first. However, if both parties still can’t come to an agreement, you’re within your rights to reject the offer. Simply tell your estate agent that you don’t want to accept the offer and they will do the rest. 

If a buyer is very interested in a property, rejecting their offer may not actually deter them. Some sellers will reject an offer and ask for the buyer to submit a new one to see how willing they are. This is a bold move and often turns potential buyers off. However, it’s still a tactic some sellers try. 

Don’t forget that accepting an offer is not legally binding. Ownership of the property doesn’t transfer to the buyer until the exchange of contracts. If the transaction is not yet legally binding, you can still walk away from the sale if you’re unhappy. If you’ve accepted an offer but then receive another, you can choose to reject the previous buyer and accept the new offer given. This is called gazumping and is often considered unfair. But it is an option if you’re still not content with the original offer.

Save When You Sell a House with Compare My Move

Whether you’re negotiating an offer or have just put your house on the market, it’s time to start comparing conveyancers to begin the conveyancing process and start the final stage of selling your property. 

All of our partners are highly-trained, experienced professionals whose only goal is to help make the moving process as simple as possible for every user. Whether you’re comparing conveyancing, surveying or removal quotes, we have everything you need to get the ball rolling. 

Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.

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.