Our guide to considering and accepting an offer
Considering an offer
Usually, the first offer will be lower than your asking price although occasionally buyers keen to secure a property or who are fearful of other buyers beating them to it will offer full asking price. The key thing to remember is that price isn’t everything in the world of property. Position, too, is important.
There is no need to accept or reject an offer straightaway, it is perfectly normal to think things over for a day or two.
It is a good idea to find out from your potential buyer’s their position, before making any decisions as there are other important factors to keep in mind when deciding who to sell your house to:
What is the financial position of the potential buyer?
Do they have to sell a home in order to move?
Are they a cash buyer?
Do they have a mortgage approved in principle?
What are your buyer’s timescales for moving?
Do they need to move quickly?
Are they part of a chain?
Are they flexible on a move date?
Also consider your own position
Do you have to move quickly in order to secure your next house? If so then you may be more interested in accepting an offer from buyers who are not part of a chain.
If you are in no hurry to move, then you could hold out for a higher offer.
A buyer who is not part of a chain and who already has a mortgage approved is a more favourable purchaser than someone who needs to sell their own home in order to fund the purchase, and who hasn’t yet got a mortgage approved.
Accepting the offer
Once you are happy with an offer, you need to formally accept it. You should then update your listing to under offer this is essentially taking the property off the market, but will remain visible on all advertising portals.
Remember that accepting an offer is not legally binding, and you can legally change your mind or accept a higher offer later (gazumping) – but remember, this can be pretty distressing to the buyer.
You should bear in mind that when an offer is made and accepted the potential buyer can also withdraw – for example, they may not get a mortgage, or the survey may show up some structural problem. Therefore it may be a good idea to keep the names and addresses of all potential buyers who make offers, in case the one you accept falls through.
When you have accepted an offer you need to inform whoever is doing the legal work. You and the buyer should exchange solicitor’s details at this point.
Negotiate the draft contract
Upon formally accepting an offer the next step is to negotiate a draft contract.
You and the buyer will have to decide:
The length of time between exchange and completion (usually 7-28 days after the exchange of contracts)
What fixtures and fittings will be included – and how much will they pay for them
Any discounts due to problems flagged up by the survey
Exchange of contracts
When contracts are exchanged, and before completion, the buyer may wish to visit the house, for example, to measure up for carpets or to get an estimate for building work. However, you should not allow any work to be done by the buyer before completion.
You should inform the fuel companies and phone company that you are leaving and ask for final readings to be made of the meters on completion day. You should also inform the Rate Collection Agency responsible for rates collection.
If the buyer is paying a deposit, this will be paid to your solicitor at exchange of contracts. The solicitor will hold this deposit until completion
You must arrange to leave the house empty (or as agreed) by completion day and to hand over all the keys.
Your solicitor will receive the rest of the purchase price from the buyer and will pass this, together with the deposit, to you. If you are buying and selling at the same time, the solicitor can settle up for both transactions at the same time, including paying stamp duty for the house you are buying.
Your solicitor will ensure that the change of ownership is registered with the Land Registry