Q. I am a first time buyer and have just started to view my first selection of properties. Given I have never bought before I feel slightly nervous about the offering process, I don’t feel very confident about actually making an offer, where do I start, how low shall I go, or can I go? Should I go straight in with the asking price if I really love the place? It seems to be a bit of a minefield and if I get it wrong I guess the implications could be disastrous if I lose the home I’m hoping to buy?
A. As with anything in life, knowledge is power so do start to familiarise yourself with the property market you are buying in, get to grips with other comparable properties and what they have actually sold for. Land registry figures are freely available on line and in fact most of the property portals will show you this information when browsing their properties. Most professional estate agents will also be happy to talk you through the process although do always be aware that the seller – is their client so they will be doing their utmost to achieve as much as possible for them. A lot of the process surrounding making offers comes down to good old common sense. For instance, whilst none of us ever want to go straight in with the asking price, it just doesn’t feel good, but you have to assess each situation on its own merit, if you have just attended an open home with ten other buyers and you absolutely love the place and would love to secure it, throwing in a low offer is just not going to cut it. On the other hand if you are visiting a property that has been reduced and has been on the market for a while then the likelihood of an offer being excepted is marginally higher. Please also take into consideration that if you are looking for the seller to include white goods or furniture and curtains etc., then going in with a silly offer again is going to be a very unwise decision. Like you the seller also wants to feel that he has struck up a good deal, so if you do want extras then consider perhaps a lower opening offer that gives you the power of negotiation to increase if the furniture can also be thrown in. Consider too that the offering process changes with the climate, so after the crash in 2008 of course low offers were prevalent but following the recovery, asking price is now expected. Armed with this information do not try to make a ridiculously low offer in a buoyant market. Your credibility as a serious buyer will disappear within seconds. If you want to be taken as a serious punter then act like one otherwise you will be dismissed very quickly even if you do actually have the money in the bank as sellers can become highly offended when presented with reckless offers.