Making an offer on a house will be the biggest financial transaction of your life. How do you make sure you get a good deal?
So you have found a great house that you would like to buy but don't people try and knock something off the asking price? That would be nice wouldn't it: save a few thousand or maybe tens of thousands and feel good about your negotiating skills at the same time.
If you came here for a quick number then, typically, people offer around 5-10% under the asking price but there is so much behind making a sensible offer and negotiating the best deal than a bit of primary school maths.
Ultimately, you should expect to pay what that house is worth to you! Any less than that figure is a great bit of luck or negotiating skill but remember to think of it just like that: You should expect to pay what that house is worth to you.
It sounds like the most obvious statement in the world but people forget this sometimes and get caught up in a negotiating over securing the house they want. Sure, 5-10% less than the asking price is a good place to start the negotiations but not the rule on what you should pay. Only you can decide what you should pay!
As explained there are so many factors that determine how close to the asking price you should offer.
Have a look at the neighbourhood. Are there other similar properties on sale in the local area or even the same road? If so have a look either on a personal viewing or a quick browse on line. How does the house you like compare in terms of finish and price. If you can realistically conclude the house you like is overpriced mention these other houses when making an offer, if not you can expect to pay closer to what is being asked.
If you are chain free, i.e. you do not need to sell a house before you can buy this one, you are in a strong position so mention this when you make your offer. It should make you more attractive a buyer for the seller so they will prefer your offer to someone else's, possibly even if you are offering a touch less.
Try to gauge how popular this house is when viewing. A sudden awkward question such as, "Have you had any offers yet?" usually gets an honest response. Answers such as "No, not really" or vague, "Errm, yes but ermmm it was a while ago" are a good sign that there hasn't been much interest and you are in a strong negotiating position.
Answers like, "Well, we've only been on the market 3 days and you're our 5 viewing" are a sign they will not need to dip below the asking price. Either wait a couple of weeks to see what happens or get in there with the big offers if it is very special to you.
When having your home valued estate agents always say something like, "I would list it at £200,000 and expect to get about £185,000". With this in mind, often the asking price is not even expected and has been marked up simply to test the market or anticipating people offering a bit less.
Is the seller hoping for a quick sale? If so they would accept a lower price than hoped just to secure a sale rather than waiting for the best price possible. Ask the seller why they are moving, once a seller informed me he has just accepted a job in Dubai and needed to move there as soon as possible - perfect.
If the house has already been reduced quite recently you are unlikely to be able to get much below that price. It may be another sign that they are after a quick sale though so would like to get on with things quickly even if they are not looking to accept any large discounts.
If the house has been on sale for a long time, it is a sign they could accept a fair bit lower than the asking. It could also be a sign that the seller is a complete pain that may have dropped out of previous sales - if so the agent will probably tell you since they would be fed up with dealing with them!
With all of this in mind you can hopefully get an understanding of when and when not to expect a discount. The best thing to do though is to work out exactly how much you can afford and how much you would like to pay and do not go over this amount. As I say, you may be able to get less than this price if you feel like you are in a strong position or the seller is in a weak position using the signs above but above all, be realistic.
If you think this house is worth the asking price and you are happy to pay that amount, offer a bit less in case you get lucky but do not be upset with yourself if you cannot knock some money off that figure.