How to negotiate a house price properly

Haggling over the selling price of a house could potentially save you tens of thousands of pounds.

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It can be nerve-wracking negotiating over the cost of your dream home.

When you’ve fallen in love with a property, you might be scared of losing it to another buyer. Yet, with nerves of steel, you could potentially save yourself tens of thousands of pounds.

You’ll be negotiating with an estate agent, who is working on behalf of the seller and is likely to be experienced in dealing with such negotiations. However, they’re legally bound to inform the seller about every bid and it’ll be the seller that makes the final decision.

You’ll be far better equipped to negotiate over a property’s selling price if you’re familiar with the situations when a seller is keen to sell quickly. It’ll also be useful to know the best techniques for successful negotiation.

With these tips in hand, you could stand to gain a new property, while saving yourself a huge chunk of money.

When is a good time to negotiate?

You’re in the strongest position to negotiate when there are a few other people competing to buy the house.

Although you may have no way of being sure about this, you can get an idea by checking how long the house has been on the market. If it has been on sale for a few weeks or months, there’s every chance the buyer is impatiently waiting for a bid.

You’ll be able to tell if your local area is experiencing a buyer’s or seller’s market by investigating how many sales have taken place there recently. Try asking the estate agent how many people have viewed the property or whether any bids have been made. Although they may be cagey about answering these sorts of questions, it’s possible to extract vital information from them.

It’s also worth speaking to the seller to find out more about their personal situation. If they’re in a hurry to sell, perhaps because they’re relocating due to a job change, they may be more likely to accept a lower bid.

When is a bad time to negotiate?

If the property appears to have attracted a lot of interest, you won’t be in a good position to negotiate, because you’re likely to be outbid by someone else. Even if your bid is accepted, there’s every chance you could be gazumped further down the road.

In these cases, you’ll often have to bid over the asking price in order to secure the property.

How to make an offer

You can make an offer to your seller’s estate agent over the phone or in person, but it’s recommended to put it in writing (generally an email) and ask for it to be passed onto the seller. This way your message isn’t lost in translation.

As well as the price you’re willing to pay, include other factors that make you an attractive buyer.

This could include:

  • Your mortgage agreement in principle
  • Whether you’re a cash buyer
  • Being chain-free
  • Whether you’re flexible on your moving date

It’s worth adding any emotional reasons you may have for moving into the property. After all, many sellers are sentimental about their property and want to sell it to someone who would truly appreciate it.

If it’s possible, develop a communicative relationship with the seller, so they can see you’re a reliable, trustworthy buyer. This will aid you in any negotiations you engage in.

Negotiation tips

  • The estate agent is working for the seller. Take everything they say with a pinch of salt.
  • Don’t reveal your total budget. If you reveal the maximum you could spend, the agent may advise the seller to hold out for a higher bid.
  • Keep your enthusiasm to yourself. If you show too much excitement, the agent could pass this impression onto the seller, who might hold out for a better offer.
  • If you believe the property may have structural problems, a full survey will give you grounds to request a reduction in price, to cover remedial works. That could mean a second round of negotiations at that point (because you’ll usually have agreed a sale price before instructing a surveyor).
  • Don’t be rushed into a decision. You might be pushed to make an extra bid, but this is often based on false information. You need to be comfortable with your decision.

Finder survey: Do you currently own a property?

Source: Finder survey by Censuswide of Brits, December 2023
We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables has the source: Moneyfacts Group PLC. In other cases, Finder has sourced data directly from providers.
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Matthew Boyle is a banking and mortgages publisher at Finder. He has a 7-year history of publishing helpful guides to assist consumers in making better decisions. In his spare time, you will find him walking in the Norfolk countryside admiring the local wildlife. See full bio

Matthew's expertise
Matthew has written 244 Finder guides across topics including:
  • Helping first-time buyers apply for a mortgage
  • Comparing bank accounts and highlighting useful features
  • Publishing easy-to-understand guides

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