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How To Make An Offer On A House

Buying your first home is an exciting milestone, but it can also be a complex and intimidating process. One of the most crucial steps is making an offer on a house. Understanding how to navigate this step can make the difference between securing your dream home or facing disappointment. This guide will walk you through the process of making an offer on a house in the UK, providing tips and insights tailored to first-time buyers.

1. Research and Preparation

Before making an offer, it’s essential to do your homework. Research the local property market to get an idea of house prices in the area where you want to buy. Websites like Rightmove, Zoopla, and local estate agent websites are useful for comparing prices of similar properties.

Key Steps:

  • Budgeting: Determine your budget, considering not just the purchase price but also additional costs like stamp duty, legal fees, and moving expenses.
  • Mortgage in Principle: Obtain a Mortgage in Principle (MIP) from your lender. This document shows sellers that you are a serious buyer with the financial means to complete the purchase.

2. Viewing Properties

Viewing properties in person is crucial. It allows you to assess the condition of the house, the neighbourhood, and other factors that can influence your decision.


  • Multiple Viewings: Visit the property more than once, preferably at different times of the day to get a better sense of the area.
  • Ask Questions: Inquire about the age of the property, the state of the roof and windows, any recent renovations, and any issues with damp or structural problems.
  • Take Notes: Bring a checklist and take notes during your visit. This will help you compare properties later.

3. Making an Offer

Once you’ve found a property you like and are confident it’s within your budget, it’s time to make an offer. Here’s how to do it:


  1. Contact the Estate Agent: Inform the estate agent representing the seller of your intention to make an offer. This is typically done over the phone or via email.
  2. Decide on the Offer Price: Based on your research, decide on a fair offer price. While it’s common to offer below the asking price, the amount depends on various factors including market conditions, property condition, and how long the property has been on the market.
  3. Submit Your Offer: Formally submit your offer through the estate agent. Clearly state any conditions, such as the inclusion of fixtures and fittings or a proposed completion date.

Negotiation Tips:

  • Be Realistic: Don’t make a ridiculously low offer, as it may not be taken seriously.
  • Justify Your Offer: Provide reasons for your offer, such as recent sales of similar properties or any work the property needs.
  • Be Prepared to Negotiate: Sellers may counter your offer. Be prepared to negotiate and know your maximum limit.

4. Offer Accepted: What Next?

If your offer is accepted, there are several important steps to follow:


  1. Arrange a Survey: Hire a professional surveyor to conduct a home survey. This will identify any potential issues with the property that might affect its value or require repairs.
  2. Instruct a Solicitor: Engage a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal aspects of the purchase. They will conduct searches, handle contracts, and ensure the legal transfer of ownership.
  3. Finalise Your Mortgage: Apply for your mortgage formally, providing the lender with all necessary documentation. Your lender will also conduct a valuation of the property.

5. Dealing with Survey Results

Survey results can sometimes reveal issues that weren’t apparent during viewings. Here’s how to handle different scenarios:

Minor Issues:

  • Proceed as Planned: If the survey reveals minor, non-critical issues, you might decide to proceed without any changes.

Major Issues:

  • Renegotiate: If significant problems are found, you can renegotiate the price or ask the seller to fix the issues before proceeding.
  • Walk Away: In extreme cases, if the problems are too severe, you may decide to withdraw your offer.

6. Exchanging Contracts

Once your solicitor has completed all checks and both parties are satisfied, you’ll exchange contracts. This is a crucial step where the sale becomes legally binding.


  • Pay the Deposit: Typically 5-10% of the purchase price is paid at this stage.
  • Agree on Completion Date: Set a date for the completion of the sale, when the remaining funds are transferred, and you get the keys to your new home.

7. Completion

Completion is the final step in the home-buying process. On the agreed date, the remaining purchase money is transferred from your solicitor to the seller’s solicitor, and you receive the keys to your new home.


  • Final Walkthrough: If possible, do a final walkthrough of the property to ensure everything is in order.
  • Collect Keys: Arrange with the estate agent to collect the keys once the transaction is confirmed.

Tips for a Smooth Process

  1. Stay Organised: Keep all documents and correspondence organized.
  2. Communicate Regularly: Maintain regular contact with your solicitor, estate agent, and lender to ensure everything is progressing smoothly.
  3. Be Patient: The process can take time, so be prepared for potential delays.

Making an offer on a house is a critical step in the home-buying process. For first-time buyers in the UK, understanding each stage—from research and viewings to negotiation and completion—can make the experience less daunting and more manageable. By being well-prepared, realistic, and proactive, you can increase your chances of successfully securing your first home. Always seek professional advice where needed and keep communication channels open to ensure a smooth and successful purchase.

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