So having found a property, what do you do next?
Firstly, you need to be clear what price you want to offer, but how do you decide this? Hopefully, having viewed a few properties, you will have a better understanding of what different style properties and different locations offer in terms of house values.
As everyday consumers, we are very familiar with purchasing a loaf of bread or pint of milk. We can easily understand when an ordinary everyday item is cheap, expensive or good value for money. The key with working out what to offer is to improve your knowledge of property prices. The best way of doing this is to view a number of properties to help improve your knowledge.
In deciding what price to offer, consider how long a property has been on the market. If a property has only recently been listed on the market, it’s unlikely an owner will take a large price reduction. The property site Zoopla shows the date a property was added to their website. For properties not showing on Zoopla, look for clues in the property details. If it is spring now, are the garden photographs showing snow? What plants are flowering in the garden, all clues to how long a property has been on the market for.
So, having viewed and found a property you are interested in, how do you go about making an offer?
An offer can either be made in person, by telephone or by email. An agent would prefer to speak to you rather than receive an offer by email, as this is the beginning of them ‘sussing you out’. Are you serious or a timewaster?
Think about your opening offer. You can always work your offer up. If you try it in reverse, lowering your offer after an initial offer has been made , a seller will probably lose confidence in you and look to sell to someone else.
Don’t say “This is my opening offer!”. Give your offer in a positive and polite manner answering the questions the agent will ask you.
Consider how quickly or slowly you would be prepared to move. A seller might not want to be put under pressure if they have not found, so perhaps ask a few questions about the seller's intentions.
If the offer is not accepted, the agent will contact you for a revised offer. This may happen a couple of times before an offer is eventually accepted.
If an agent comes back to you and asks for your ‘best and final’ offer, this is exactly what they are asking you for. If your ‘best and final’ offer is rejected, that is it. There is no going back to put in a higher offer. The seller has signalled that they wanted a swift end to the process of offering a property for sale. Best and final offers are designed to do this.
The agent is likely to ask if you have a mortgage certificate. If you have, tell them so. Be careful about showing the certificate before an offer is agreed as this is likely to disclose to an Estate Agent how much mortgage you could obtain which may be well in excess of the price you have offered on a property. This could be used by the agent to your detriment to help bid up the price of the house. Once the offer has been accepted, be prepared to provide the agent with a copy of this document.
Finally, once the offer has been accepted, the estate agent will want to know which solicitor you are using. It helps if you have completed your research on solicitors early on. It makes you look like an organised buyer if you can provide solicitor details at the point the offer is made.
Once an offer has been accepted, don’t forget to contact your solicitor to let them know you have had an offer accepted. It’s also time to contact your mortgage adviser who will make an appointment with you so you can make the final decisions as to what type of mortgage to apply for and with which lender.
Your mortgage adviser will send you a list of documents to bring to the meeting. It’s useful to collate the information before you visit your mortgage adviser. Go through the list of documents and tick them off as you collate them ready for your meeting.
Typically, it takes around 8 to 12 weeks to move house from the point an offer is agreed. Moving house and applying for a mortgage is part of a process, so timescales can vary depending on individual circumstances.