How to Make an Offer on a House or Flat

Making an offer on a house or flat

When you find your perfect property, you’ll want to do all you can to make it yours. This means there is often a certain amount of pressure when putting an offer in on a house or flat. You’ll want to offer enough to be taken seriously by the seller, but not so much that you end up paying an inflated price.

This is why doing your research is so important. Take a look online at how much properties are selling for in the same area, and keep an eye on how quickly they’re being sold. If you spot a pattern of similar properties taking longer to sell, you may be in a stronger position to make a lower offer.

But before you go ahead and put your offer on the table, make sure you know what your budget is. This might sound obvious, but it can be easy to forget about additional costs like stamp duty, surveys, searches and conveyancing fees.

When you’ve considered these factors and made your final decision, it will be time to make your offer. Here are our tips:

1. Talk to the seller’s estate agent
Let the seller’s estate agent know your offer. By law, they are required to pass this on to the current owners of the property.

You could also take this opportunity to find out more about why the property is being sold and whether any offers have already been made.

2. Put your offer into writing
After you’ve spoken to the estate agent, write your offer into an email. This will mean that your offer is recorded, so there will be less potential for disagreements or confusion later on.

You might also consider writing an offer letter to the seller. This isn’t required, but it can help in building a connection with the current owners. For instance, if it’s a family home, you could let them know that you can see yourself raising your own children there (if this applies to you).

3. Explain why you’re a good buyer
Don’t take it for granted that the seller knows your position as a buyer. If it’s your first time buying a home, make sure to emphasise the fact that you aren’t involved in a property chain.

Similarly, if you’re able to make a cash offer for the house, let the seller’s agent know as soon as possible. This could hold a lot of sway if the seller is left to decide between multiple similar offers.

4. Prepare for negotiations
When the seller indicates that they’re interested in your offer, negotiations will start. Remember to keep your budget to yourself and try to play it cool as you can.

There’s nothing wrong with showing a bit of enthusiasm about a property. But too much could lead the seller’s agent to believe that you’re willing to pay more than you’re comfortable with.

5. Ask for the property to be taken off the market
If the seller has accepted your offer, you have the right to ask for the property to be removed from the market.

While the seller could still pull out at any point up until the exchanging of contracts, having the property removed from online listings provides greater protection for you as a buyer.

Will my offer be legally binding?

Even if your offer is accepted, it won’t be legally binding until contracts are exchanged. This means that you or the seller are free to drop out at any point until then. But we wouldn’t recommend this unless there is a serious issue preventing you from going through with the purchase.

This is because any money you’ve spent so far on surveys and conveyancing fees will be lost if you pull out of the process. For this reason, we would only suggest dropping out of a property purchase as a last resort.

For instance, you might have a survey carried out that reveals structural problems you weren’t previously aware of. In this case, you’d be within your rights to lower your offer or ask for the issues to be fixed before contracts are exchanged.

But if the seller is not willing to oblige with your requests, you may find yourself with no choice but to drop out of the transaction. There will be no legal repercussions for this, as long as contracts have not yet been exchanged.

Can I make an offer on a house without a mortgage in principle?

A mortgage in principle – also known as an agreement in principle – can be obtained from any mortgage provider. It lets sellers know that you will be able to borrow the funds needed to secure their property, as a lender has already agreed to provide you with a loan.

There is no requirement to have a mortgage in principle when you put an offer on a property, but it’s widely recommended that you do. This is mainly because it can make you much more attractive as a potential buyer.

Most sellers will want to do all they can to reduce the chance of delays during their property sale. If you already have a mortgage in principle, you’re letting the seller know that you won’t be held up by any of the issues that can arise when trying to secure a mortgage.

Do I need a solicitor before making an offer?

In England and Wales, it isn’t necessary to have a solicitor in place when you make an offer on a property. But it can help to register your interest with a firm, so that they’re ready to assist you when the conveyancing process begins.

We work with reputable conveyancing firms that are based across the country. If you need some help finding the right conveyancer or solicitor for you, just give us a call or start your enquiry online.

Note: First4Lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances.


It seems you are using an outdated browser.

This will impair your browsing experience around the web. Please visit one of the links below to update to a modern browser then re-open the site with the new browser.

Thank you


Can't find what you are looking for?

We are open as normal during the Coronavirus lockdown and are able to help with all your legal needs.

Call us free of charge

0800 567 7866

Request a Callback

Continue browsing