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Negotiating house prices: your key guide

Finding the right house can take weeks or months, but as soon as you find ‘the one’, you need to know the exact steps to follow to secure your dream house. One of these steps is knowing how to negotiate on price.

Before the viewing

Know the market

If similar properties in the area aren’t selling quickly, or if they’re selling below the guide price, you know you can offer less.

Check Right move and Zoopla for any recent property listings. They’ll give you the last sale price, as well as the most recent prices paid for houses on the same street.

This means if next door sold last year for £25,000 less than your vendor is asking for today, you can use this to help negotiate in your favour.

Consider the vendor’s financial position

Knowing what your vendor bought the house for can be useful information. If they bought the house over 15 years ago, it’s likely they’re sitting on huge gains with a much smaller mortgage. As a result, they’re likely to be more flexible over what they’d accept. If your vendor has only recently bought the house, they might need to accept a certain offer to cover their existing borrowings.

During the viewing

Careful talk

Try to find out about your vendor’s situation. Why are they moving and where to?What you want to uncover is how urgently the vendor needs to sell.

For example, if they’re trying to move to a better school catchment area, they’re likely to be keen for a quick sale, compared to an older couple who are downsizing.

It’s also great news for you if they’ve already agreed a sale on their next home – they won’t want to lose out for the sake of negotiating too hard.

Just ask

Being upfront and asking the vendor or the estate agent what the minimum price they would take can shift the goalposts, hopefully in your favour. You may feel uncomfortable asking them, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know!

Sell yourself

Tell the vendor the position you’re in i.e. if you’re a mortgage approved first time buyer, or if you’re a cash buyer who doesn’t need a mortgage. Also, don’t be afraid to tell the vendor about the emotional attachment you have to the house (if you do that is) People are often sentimental about their home and it doesn’t hurt to tell them how much you love it too – go ahead, tug on those heartstrings rather than loosening the purse strings.

What other types of protection are there?

Start low

Most vendors will expect lower initial offers, but having done your homework, you’ll have a good idea how much you can afford. If you know there are rival bids for your dream home, be prepared to lose out if you’re adamant on offering a lower than asking price bid.

Make your second bid specific

If you get turned down, ask for a counter offer and hopefully this will be under your maximum price. Now pick a figure somewhere in between your initial offer and their counter offer.

Go for something specific i.e £154,650 rather than £155,000. This implies it’s your maximum limit and can sway some vendors.

Ask for giveaways

At this point, you can ask for things like white goods to be included with the sale. This can save you money, and often helps the vendor out too as they have less to move on moving day.

Make your third offer final

If your vendor isn’t moving their asking price, and you don’t feel the house is worth what they’re asking, change your offer but explain that this is a final offer. If it has gotten to this stage, it’s likely you’re the only person currently bidding.

At this point, you must be prepared to walk away. If the vendor comes back to you in a few days then they’re selling to you, rather than you buying from them. This gives you the go ahead to be confident in any further bids.

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