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Making an offer on a property: how much should you offer?

Found your perfect home? Here’s what to consider before you make an offer on a house.

Words by: Ellie Isaac

Senior Editor

Deciding how much to offer on a house can be a real headache.

Go in too low and it could quickly become the one that got away. But if you offer too high, you could look back and wonder if you overpaid.

With a little research, you can hit the sweet spot when you make an offer on a house. That’s one you feel great about and the seller is happy to accept.

Here are the things to think about when deciding what offer to make on a house.

1. How long has the property been on the market?

Finding out how long the home’s been on the market can give you a leg up before making an offer on a house.

If it’s only just been put up for sale, the owners may not be ready to accept an offer. That said, we're now in a buyers' market and sellers are starting to offer bigger discounts.

But if the home has been on the market for a few months, the seller might be willing to negotiate.

We can show you how long a home's been on the market. Just search homes for sale to find the listing, go to the 'More Information' section and find 'Listing History'. You’ll see the date it was first listed for sale.

Listings history

2. Has the property's price been reduced?

We can also tell you how much a property's price has been reduced since it's been on the market.

If the price has been dropped, the sellers have already lowered their expectations. You might think they've reduced their price fairly and so you're willing to offer their new asking price.

If they haven't dropped their price at all, maybe there's room to make an offer below asking price.

You can see price drops in the same 'Listing History' tab on a property listing.

3. Has the property been brought 'back to market'?

We now show when homes have been brought back to the market after accepting a previous offer.

There are so many reasons why sales fall through. It’s often an issue further up or down the chain, or a financial hurdle like a mortgage offer not getting approved or a change in someone’s budget.

Job changes, relationship break-ups and health issues could all stop the sale from happening too.

The main benefit of spotting a 'back to market' property is that you know the seller is serious about moving. They'll have all their ducks in a row and this might mean they'll accept an offer if they're keen to move quickly.

4. How much interest has there been in the property?

Ask the estate agent how much interest the sellers have had in their home.

They’re more likely to hold out for the full asking price if they’ve had lots of online hits and in-person viewings.

But if they've not had much interest, they might be open to accepting a slightly lower offer.

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5. What did the current owners pay for it?

Seeing what the owners paid can give you some clues as to what they might accept. And help you make sure they’re asking for a fair price.

Just search house prices and find the home you’re interested in.

You'll see what they bought for and when it was. It’s all Land Registry data on when the property last changed hands and how much it sold for.

There's even a graph showing how their house price estimate has changed over the last few years. Right up to today.

And take note of the date they bought it. If they’ve lived there for more than a decade, they’ll have made strong returns over that time and they might have a bit more flexibility in what offer they’ll accept.

Where are house prices falling in the UK?

6. What are nearby homes selling for?

Get to grips with nearby house prices – it’s one of the best ways to decide what you should offer.

Search sold house prices to see the sale price of properties nearby.

If you know what the neighbour sold for, you’re in a better position to negotiate.

You can question why the asking price is much higher or lower than the house down the road.

And if you can’t find a decent answer – by looking at pictures, floor plans and descriptions –  it might be time to put that cheeky offer in.

7. What’s going on in the wider housing market?

Head to our monthly House Price Index to get a feel for the national housing market.

It explains buyer demand and highlights the hottest cities and regions for house price growth.

You can see how your region's performing compared to the rest of the country.

If there's lots of demand and prices are rising in your part of the country, it might be harder to get an offer accepted.

But if demand for homes has cooled, there will be fewer buyers competing for the property. In these cases, sellers may have to accept a lower offer to get a sale.

8. Why are they selling the home?

Try and find out why the sellers are moving. It can give you an idea of how urgently they need to sell, and therefore if they'd take a lower offer.

Talk to the estate agent and ask what’s happening with their move.

If they’ve already put an offer in on another property, they might be feeling the pressure to sell. No one wants to hold up a chain and risk losing the home they love.

People can also be in a hurry to sell if they’re moving for a new job or they’re getting divorced. 

It’s the same if they’re selling the home of someone who’s died. People often rely on the sale to pay inheritance tax, which is due within 6 months of the owner’s death.

All of these types of sellers might accept a lower offer so they can move more quickly.

On the other hand, some sellers are just testing the water. If they don’t have another home lined up or any other pressures, they’ll probably be happy to hold out for a higher offer.

9. Are there any reasons the home is likely to go for a premium?

Another thing to consider is whether any other factors may be driving the asking price up.

Is the property in the catchment area for a sought-after school? Is it within walking distance of a railway station?

When you’ve found the listing in our home search, take a look at the map. It shows points of interest like schools, railways stations and amenities nearby.

You can decide whether it’s worth paying more to have these things nearby. Or if you’d rather get a better deal on a home without them.

10. Research plans for the local area

Understanding the seller’s situation and the local housing market are the most important things. You’re already well on your way to that.

But it also helps to look at what might be coming to the local area in the future.

Sellers often ask for a higher price if there are big plans in the pipeline.

There might be a new school or a leisure centre. Maybe the local park’s being done up or there are road improvements or new transport links being set up.

All of this can add value to a home and push up the asking price.

But on the other hand, looking at local plans might tell you if you could get a lower offer accepted.

For example, if new homes are being built nearby, the seller might be conscious their home won’t be in as high demand.

Or if there are plans for commercial or industrial development, it might impact the residential area. It could get a seller willing to accept a lower price.

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11. Get to know your own home better

If you’re selling at the same time, make sure you’re in the know about your own home.

Track your home for a whole world of insight. From its estimate over time to nearby sold prices and local market trends. 

It all helps you understand what you should get for your home and what you can afford to offer on your next.

Keep in touch with the experts too, so you know how your own sale is going. With your estate agent’s valuation and your conveyancer’s advice, you’ll know exactly what your top offer could be.

We try to make sure that the information here is accurate at the time of publishing. But the property market moves fast and some information may now be out of date. Zoopla Property Group accepts no responsibility or liability for any decisions you make based on the information provided.