Once you’ve found a property that ticks all the right boxes and is within your price range, it’s time to make an offer to the selling agent to get that sale agreed.
It’s worth noting that a lot of selling agents will set a low initial asking price in order to get as many people interested in the property as possible. The property may well go for a price well above the asking price.
What ‘private treaty’ means
In most cases, houses are sold by private treaty. This means that bidders submit their offers to the selling agent, who will then put the offers to the seller. You have no legal obligation to continue with the sale at this stage if your offer is accepted and you can withdraw your offer if you wish.
Many selling agents will ask for the offer to be made via email so they have a clear record of when the offer was made and the amount.
‘Best and final’ price
Most agents try to avoid ‘best and final’ offer or a sealed bid, but this can sometimes happen. If a property has several bidders, and the agents want to move the sale along quickly, they may ask for your best and final offer in order to wrap things up.
You will be asked for the ‘best and final’ price that you are willing to pay for the property.
In this case, you have no way of knowing what everyone else is bidding and it is genuinely down to how much you think the property is worth to you, how much you want it and how much you can afford to pay.
It is also worth noting that the house will generally go to the highest bidder, but not always. It is at the home owner’s discretion.
Buying at auction
Some houses will come up for sale by public auction but this is usually suited to people paying in cash who will have paid for a surveyor’s report prior to the auction.
Buyers could be left in an unhappy position if they buy a house on a whim at auction, without having carried out the proper checks prior to buying it.
Once your offer has been accepted, you then proceed to purchasing the property.
Buying the property and paying the deposit
You will now pay a booking deposit, which can be a set amount or a small percentage of the purchase price. The booking deposit demonstrates your serious intent to buy and is not to be confused with the ‘deposit’ (although they have similar names) which is almost always larger and paid later.
The booking deposit is refundable if you decide not to proceed with the purchase based on a surveyor’s report for example, and prior to contract signing. In the case of new builds, when the booking deposit is paid, the builder’s solicitor will send the contract and the title document to your solicitor and the seller.
After you have paid the booking deposit, you let the bank and your solicitor know of your intention to buy. Once your offer has been accepted on a second-hand home, you will receive written confirmation of your intention to buy from the selling agent.
The balance of the deposit to buy the home will be paid at a later stage, when signing contracts. This usually brings it up to 10 per cent of the sale price.