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How to negotiate house price

13/04/2020
A lot can hang on your house price negotiation strategy, especially if your heart is set on buying a property. In over 80% of house purchases the purchase price is negotiated at the outset, when you make your initial offer, however negotiating house price after your survey may also be required because:


Both of these would need you to start negotiations with the seller to find a sale price that both you and the seller will be happy to agree upon. However, knowing how to negotiate when buying a house is incredibly difficult, especially when you are negotiating on the price of something you really want. You might even feel that the seller was hiding something or that the estate agents were trying to get more for the property than it is worth. There is also the risk that the seller won't accept your offer and pulls out from the sale. This is why we have created a template letter in this article to help - it is free to download at the bottom.

In this article we explain:

    1
    How to negotiate house price when you make an offer
    2
    How to renegotiate house price after survey

Tip for How to negotiate house price - The seller must win

In any successful negotiation both sides need to feel they have won. For you the win is buying your dream home at a price that is reflective of the property's market value it its current condition - the cheaper the better. For the seller, their win is different and might be:

  • Moving home - can they afford to buy their new home? They budgeted their onward purchase based on the estate agent's valuation so to buy their new home they may not want, or be able to negotiate below the asking price without some concessions on their onward purchase
  • Probate sale - are the executors happy with the sale price? Could they find a new buyer to pay more and as such give a better return to the beneficiaries? This is such a large topic that this area is covered in our article - Probate Sale - Top tips for buyers and sellers
  • Landlord sale - similar to the above, does the landlord make as much money as they wanted to achieve?> Every penny off effects the landlord's return on their investment.

Find out what the win is for your seller and work out how much to offer below asking price that still allows them their win otherwise you may end up losing your offer to another buyer who is prepared to pay what the seller is asking for. I explain further on how to combat the above challenges with the seller.


    1

    How to negotiate house price when making an offer

You need to work out how much to offer below asking price without putting off the seller and also factoring in the other offers on the table. To do this you need to do some research first. Prior to online search engines this would have been more difficult, however nowadays with Rightmove and Zoopla all you need is the postcode of the property and then you can get:

Completed/Sold properties
This is where you can get the most accurate data about what properties in the area have sold for. You need to look for properties on your street, with the same amount of floor space, bedrooms and bathrooms. Where properties differ in size this can become more difficult because more bedrooms and bathrooms will mean a higher purchase price.

You should also be careful not to compare property prices for properties not on your street. A street in itself could add £10,000s to the purchase price (remember - location, location, location).

In an ideal world there'll be a property that has completed over the last 6 to 12 months and it'll compare with a 5-10% increase for your property's current market value.

Where there is a comparable house but it was sold over 12 months ago, then you need to check on the Land Registry to see how much house prices have gone up in your area over the last year (or however old the last property sold is). The Land Registry has a great tool for this and you can such comparable years and months going back to 1996. Click here to go to the Land Registry House Price Index.

Under offer
You can check under offer properties however don't rely on this data. These properties haven't completed and the online property portals don't update their current offer prices so the advertised price could be £250,000, but the accepted house price could be £230,000.

For sale
Looking at other properties for sale is not an indication of what your property is currently worth. Asking prices are not always met and the fact that the seller is asking for this amount of money, doesn't mean this is what the property will finally sell for.

Tip for How to negotiate house price - The agent sets the price

The estate agent is employed by the seller to sell the property for them - and it is normally for the highest price possible. So how does the estate agent set the asking price?

  • Current asking prices - the estate agent will look to existing properties on their books and their current asking prices as a benchmark.
  • Sold properties - the estate agent may have sold or have under offer a property close to your property.
  • Competition - the estate agent may have a large number of property buyers on their books ready and waiting for a property like yours. They may use this to set a higher price.
  • Market Fluctuations - house prices as a whole mostly increase, except after major events such as the 2008 crash, however local markets fluctuate and the estate agent should take these fluctuations into consideration.
  • Closed Bids - the estate agent may run a closed bid where the highest offer wins. This may not be the current asking price because buyers place a bid for what the property is worth to them, not what it is actually worth purely so they win the bid.
  • Online Estate Agents - online estate agents such as Purplebricks allow sellers to set their own house price. This may not be based on anything other than what they want to get for the property.

Be aware that just because there is an asking price it doesn't always mean this is what the property price is worth. Neither the estate agent nor the seller can remain unbiased when setting the sale price.



How much under asking price should I offer?

Here are things to consider when working out how much under the asking price you should offer:

  • Too low - going too much below asking price can mean that your alienate the seller. Whilst there are other considerations such as the length of time the seller has been on the market and how desperate they are to sell, often going in too low doesn't get your negotiations off to the best start.
  • Reduction not based on anything - as you'll see below, it helps to explain to the seller why you have offered a bid lower than their asking price - it makes your reason more tangible.
  • Go In at Asking Price - offering what the seller is asking gives you an opportunity to defer negotiating until further into the transaction such as after your survey or mortgage valuation. With so many buyers offering under asking price, it can start your relationship off with the seller on the right foot by offering the asking price.

Unless there is some good reason to do so, you should only ever make an offer that you can afford and that you feel is what it is worth based on your own research.
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Tip for How to negotiate house price - Revised mortgage offer

When buying with a mortgage, if you agree a reduction, whether it is an allowance or a reduction in the house price, you'll need to inform your mortgage lender and they'll need to reissue their mortgage offer to you. This can cause delays if left close to exchange of contracts as it can take 3 to 7 working days to get a mortgage offer revised and returned to your solicitor.


    2

    Negotiating house price after survey

As we highlighted above, the property's value can be affected after the survey through a property defect or the property being undervalued.

House Survey Problems
We have listed in this article the costs of repairing each type of problems found in a house survey. If there are material defects the costs of these should be deducted from the current market value to find the cost that is fair to pay in the property's current condition. Or, the seller can make good the works to bring the property into a reasonable condition. If there are defects within the property then you should obtain 3 quotes from local trades people to repair/fix the defects. Some of these may be specialists and costly. By getting 3 quotes you can use these when negotiating with the seller and it makes your offer under the asking price more genuine.

Some buyers ask the RICS surveyor to give a ball park figure on the cost of making good the defects. The issue with this is it is often wrong (under or over) because the RICS surveyor undertakes surveys, they don't fix building issues. To get a more accurate quote you should speak to local tradespeople who undertake the actual works you need fixing. This not only gives you a price to get the works done, but also you've done your homework for who will do it - these works need doing at some point and your RICS surveyor won't be doing them for you. The best place to look for contractors is CheckaTrade.

Local RICS Surveyors Throughout England | Competitive Prices | Same Week Availability

How to negotiate new build house price

Developers want the highest sale price possible so how much can you negotiate off a new build house? This depends on the developer and whilst you may not be able to negotiate a lower sale price, the developer may agree to an incentive such as they pay your stamp duty.


Mortgage lender undervalued property
When a mortgage lender undervalues the property you are left with no option but to renegotiate or make up the difference yourself. The latter means you are buying a property that isn't worth what you are paying for it - as of day 1 you are in negative equity.

The process for negotiating a house price that has been undervalued is covered in a lot more detail here - Bank Undervalued Property - What You Can Do

Stage 1 - How to negotiate house price - Template Email

The following is an example email to start negotiations with the seller through their estate agent. If you have direct access to the seller then address it to them.

Dear {ESTATE AGENT NAME},

Re: PROPERTY ADDRESS

I hope you're ok. Things are progressing well for me with the conveyancing. My searches are back, enquiries are being finalised and I have completed my property survey; this final point however has flagged up some issues that I need your help with.

The RICS surveyor has flagged up a number of issues that I was unaware of when I made my offer and we need to discuss how best to proceed.

I'm sure you'll appreciate that when paying the current asking price of the property, I need to ensure that the property is in current market condition.

The following defects were raised:

  • brickwork walls need;
  • barge boards are worn;
  • rendering is coming away and there is blistering of the render consistent with damp in walls. Also cracks in render;
  • window problems- bathroom rotted, kitchen sill not protruding out past the line of wall, rear bedroom water getting in;
  • flat roof in extension very badly installed;
  • dampness in bathroom and dining area and could cause problems to laminate floor;
  • trees in clay soil cause problems. These need seeing to; and
  • spotlights missing.

I have spoken to 3 independent contractors and they estimate the costs for making the repairs to be around £4,000 (I've attached their quotes).

The challenge is that any buyer will have these issues if they are looking to buy this property [and for some mortgage lenders they may not lend based on these defects.]

I am still very keen to buy the property and will be looking to exchange over the next few weeks, however I would ask that either the above items including the damp are addressed, or we agree a reduction in the purchase price of £4,000 and I’ll handle the repair works to the property after I move in.

I hope that we can move forward from here because I really want the house, however I can’t afford to absorb these repair costs.

If the seller agrees to reduce the price it'll take me a few days to get my mortgage offer reissued to reflect the new price so the sooner we can get this agreed the better as I don't want to hold up exchange because we are waiting for my mortgage lender.

I look forward to hearing back from you and or the seller by the [DATE].

Kind regards,

YOUR NAME

Note: This is a template letter and should be tailored to your own individual circumstances. We take no responsibility for the outcome of your negotiations.

Stage 2 - Final Offer Template Email

If your first offer isn't accepted then download a template for your final offer. Before you send it read our FAQ below - What are the buying a house negotiation tactics?

Note: This is a template letter and should be tailored to your own individual circumstances. We take no responsibility for the outcome of your negotiations.



Frequently Asked Questions

What are the buying a house negotiation tactics?

Whilst we prefer not to call them negotiation tactics these are some of the things you can do to help negotiate the best house price:

  • Base a reduction on something. Defect, market conditions, mortgage valuation, base it on something. A seller is more likely to accept a lower offer if they know why you are asking for it.
  • Give a deadline. Be realistic and give a week or two, but not longer or shorter. The time gives the seller the opportunity to work out whether they can accept an offer below asking price or even lower than the original offer.
  • Give the seller time. Don't chase before the end of the deadline even if you are nervous about losing the property. You've asked for money off, so now is the time for the seller to talk. If you contact them before they respond they know you are too eager and may choose to no budge. This is my top tip on how to negotiate a house sale so don't make this mistake. Say nothing and be prepared to wait. Your silence shows you are serious.
  • Ignore the estate agent. The estate agent will normally reply saying the offer is too low or the seller won't accept it. You should reply asking the estate agent to provide your offer to the seller and obtain their feedback. Of course the estate agent doesn't want a sale for under the asking price because they are remunerated on a percentage of the sale price. This doesn't mean that the seller or developer may agree to accept it - their position may be that they are happy to accept a lower offer.
  • Be prepared to walk away. A deadline means nothing if you aren't prepared to walk away after setting it. You'll be surprised how many negotiations require the buyer to pull out before the seller agrees to an offer under asking price.
  • The winning tactic. This final one is reserved for client's who work with SAM Conveyancing. This is something that estate agents can't argue with so get in contact to find out what this winning tactic is.

What happens if the seller won't negotiate?

Renegotiating the house price after your survey doesn't always mean you get what you want - the seller could say no, especially if the estate agent is pushing them to look for other offers from other buyers who 'might' not ask for a price reduction. This may mean you either have to carry on, or pull out from the purchase.

The feeling of only having one property to go for makes the loss of it even harder if you have to pull out. This reaction is common when there appears to be a lack of availability on what we really want - ever seen someone take the last biscuit in the tin and then all you can think about is how much you want a biscuit.

The best solution to this emotion is to keep an eye on the property market and don't stop viewing new properties. This doesn't mean you have to put offers on the properties you find, however it does mean that if something goes wrong and you find another property you like, it makes the decision of pulling out less emotional and more based on facts.

These tips will give you the best chance of negotiating a reasonable reduction in the purchase price of your new home. Remember, every pound you pay over the current asking price in its current condition, will mean the property will have to go up in value, otherwise you will be in negative equity.

For more conveyancing support call our team of specialists on 0333 344 3234 (local call charges apply).

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