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How to know which offer to accept on your home

Figuring out whether or not to accept an offer is a big decision. Should you go for the highest bid? Can you negotiate? Here's what to think about before you say 'Yes'.

Guest Author
Words by: Nicky Burridge

Contributing Editor

Having an offer made for your home is exciting. But once the elation has died down, knowing whether or not to accept it isn’t always easy. 

While you want to get the highest price possible, you also want a buyer who’s dependable - and ready to move quickly. 

Here are the things to think about when weighing up your decision.

Thinking of selling?

Get the ball rolling with an in-person valuation of your home. It’s free and there’s no obligation to sell if you change your mind.

How do I know what offer to accept on a house?

First, ask yourself if you think the offer reflects a fair price for your property. 

Use our My Home tool to see how much similar properties have sold for in your area.

Unless the local market is very ‘hot’, you're unlikely to receive an offer for the full asking price. 

That said, if your home hasn’t been on the market for very long, you may want to hold out to see if you can get a better offer.

Timing can also play an important role in your decision. 

If you're in a hurry to sell, you may be more inclined to accept a lower offer to get moving, rather than waiting for a better one. 

You should also weigh up the buyer’s situation when deciding whether to accept an offer. 

Find out if they are likely to be able to complete the sale quickly. 

  • Do they need to find a buyer for their current property? 

  • Do they need to secure a mortgage to buy yours - or do they have a mortgage agreement in principle already lined up?

Remember, you don’t need to make a decision instantly. You can take a day or two to think about it.

Do I accept the first offer on my house?

No, you are under no obligation to accept the first offer made on your home. 

In fact, you do not have to accept any offers at all if you don’t want to.

That said, there may be circumstances in which you do want to accept the first offer made. 

  • Your home has been on the market for a long time without generating much interest

  • You’re in a hurry to sell because you need to relocate for work or schools

  • You’ve already had an offer accepted on a property you like and are keen to progress with buying it

Do sellers always pick the highest offer?

Most people want to get the highest price possible for their home. As a result, they typically accept the highest offer.

But there are circumstances in which homeowners might not pick the highest bid.

If you need to achieve a quick sale, you may decide to accept a lower offer if the person making it is a cash buyer, or they have already sold their property or have a mortgage offer agreed in principle.

Equally, you may think someone who has put in a higher offer is not a serious buyer and may later withdraw it, wasting your time.

Sometimes people accept a lower offer for emotional reasons, like wanting their family home to go to another family.

Others may accept a lower offer because they are staying in the area and think the buyers will be good neighbours.

It is your property and there is nothing to stop you selling it to whoever you want to.

What happens when there are two offers on a house?

If you receive more than one offer on your home, you are in a great position to get a high price for it.

If both offers are the same, you have two choices:

  1.  You can accept the offer from the buyer who is most likely to be able to complete the sale quickly. For example, someone who is not part of a chain or who already has a mortgage approved in principle.

  2. You can move to sealed bids. This is where your estate agent asks both parties to write down the maximum price they are prepared to pay for the property. 

With option two, your hopeful buyers will submit their bids in a sealed envelope by a set date. 

The estate agent then opens them, and you usually sell to the person who put in the highest bid.

But you are not legally obliged to accept the highest bid. 

The buyer also has the right to withdraw their offer. The sale does not become legally binding until you have exchanged contracts.

Is negotiating a possibility?

Negotiating is not only a possibility, it’s expected!

When potential buyers put in their first offer, they typically do so at a level of between 5% and 10% below the asking price.

Generally, as the seller, you would come back with a price above their offer but below your original asking price. This process continues until you find a price with which both parties are happy.

But you don’t have to negotiate if you don’t want to. If someone puts in an offer that is so low you don’t think they are a serious buyer, you can just reject it.

Can a seller decline a full price offer?

Yes, you can. You are under no obligation to accept an offer on your home if you don’t want to.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to decline a full price offer.

If you receive a full price offer very soon after putting your property on the market, you may decide it was undervalued.

In which case, you may decide to reject the offer and increase the price.

You may also decline a full price offer if you think the purchase will take a long time to be completed. 

For example, if the buyer has not yet listed their existing home, or is part of a long or complex chain.

You can also decline it if you have simply changed your mind about selling your home. 

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.