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I really like a house and I am prepared to put in an offer at the asking price. I think this is a good price for this house considering the current value of houses in this area and from my personal experience in the last few months trying to buy a house.

I am in a strong position as I am a first time buyer, already have a mortgage in principle for higher than I would need to borrow for this price and have a 15% deposit which is what some UK lenders are currently requiring.

However I am worried that I could put in an offer for the asking price, pay for expensive solicitor fees, surveys etc. and then get outbid. I appreciate this is always a risk associated with buying a house but I would like to mitigate this as much as possible.

I previously had a viewing booked for a house which then got cancelled due to the seller already selling the house. Could I ask the estate agent / vendor to remove the house off of the market and cancel any viewings as a condition of my offer -similar to what happened to me?.

Is there anything else I could do to make sure my offer got accepted and I do not get outbid?

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    Why do you consider that being a first time buyer puts you in a strong position? – nanoman Jul 24 '20 at 18:36
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    The only real answer is "bid higher". Which of course has its drawbacks. – The Photon Jul 24 '20 at 18:55
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    You can ask, but I (as the seller) would probably be turned off by such a request. If a potential buyer is worried that another interested party could make a better offer, I'm certainly going to leave my house on the market to see if such an offer materializes. If the seller does receive a better offer, they will usually ask if you are willing to raise your offer. – chepner Jul 24 '20 at 21:25
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    In the UK you don't have to put money down before making an offer. However, once your offer has been accepted then you pay for surveys and solicitors for checks on the house / to start the purchase of the house. At this stage no one is contractually obliged yet you could have spent £100s or £1000s already and the seller could then accept a better offer or even pull out of the sale altogether. – Jsk Jul 25 '20 at 7:36
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    @nanoman A first-time buyer can be advantageous because – not having a house to sell – they will not be in a "chain". – TripeHound Jul 25 '20 at 10:25
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Is there anything else I could do to make sure my offer got accepted and I do not get outbid?

Having been in this position both as buyer and seller, the only thing that springs to mind is getting the seller to like you.

This is of course tricky if you haven’t met. Conventionally, all the contact is via the agent. (We were lucky in that our second viewing the seller was present; and when we were sellers, we hung around to meet the second viewers).

The sellers will probably be told your name – so, if they are at all interested, they might Google you and look at your website / social profiles etc. It won't hurt to make sure these reflect you properly and don’t make you look an imbecile.

If the estate agent is a good one*, they might also tell the seller a few more things about you (e.g. “nice young man/woman/couple, kids/no kids, works in (town) as a (job)” etc).

But mainly, they will be told the bare facts by the agent. And from most sellers’ point of view, your bare facts are good: having a mortgage approved and no chain are desirable factors in a bidder.

You have this in your favour, so it could be unwise to tag on unreasonable demands.

It sounds like you are striving for control of a situation that really you cannot exert control over. It is a market transaction, at the end of the day. Offering the asking price is entirely reasonable in most circumstances. If you get outbid, you get outbid. If it matters to you so much that you would pay a bit more to secure that particular house, and you can afford it, consider bidding more.

Re: circumstances – it's also reasonable to ask the agent before you bid. They will have already guided the seller on price. They might have said “go high, you can always reduce if you need to sell fast” or “go lower, get bidders competing against each other”. It's also possible that the seller disregarded their guidance on price. So you can ask: Would it be sensible to bid the asking price? Again, this assumes you are dealing with a good and professional agent.*

If your offer is accepted, it is usual for the property to be no longer actively marketed. It is marked as “Sold subject to contract” on estate agents’ websites, Zoopla etc. This is normal. Regarding solicitors’ fees and survey costs etc., you are in the same boat as every other buyer. You are paying these fees to ensure that you don’t end up buying a liability of a property. Regarding ‘gazumping’ (being outbid late in the process), unfortunately the process does put you at the mercy of the vagaries of the market, and the seller’s own ethics. You may be able to judge whether you are dealing with a sympathetic or a ruthless seller. If your transaction drags on for many weeks and the market is rising, you are at more risk of a higher bid coming in. Keep things moving, keep communication open (and unreasonable demands out of it) and you stand the best chance of completing at the price you agreed.

Best of luck!


* Footnote re: calibre of estate agent The starred comments above assume you are dealing with a good, professional estate agent. An estate agent worth their salt is primarily concerned with getting the sale made, rather than ekeing out the very top price. However, there are greedy, slippery, manipulative and inexperienced agents out there. It's up to you to judge what kind of agent you’re dealing with and play the situation accordingly.

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The key to getting your offer accepted is to not get married to a house you don't own. Your offer WILL be accepted, on a certain house, by a certain seller. Your negotiating position is exactly as strong as your ability to walk away from it, vs the sellers'. If you decide that for some reason this house is the only house you could possibly ever buy, the sellers can set the highest price you could possibly pay. If the sellers need to leave the country within the month, you can set the price much lower.

It's important to be able to weigh up the relative strengths of your positions in a negotiation, but I'd say as a frame challenge that it's more important to put yourself in a situation in which you can't lose.

I was in almost your exact position last October. The only difference was that I had a 20% "deposit" (as in 80% LTV, which only matters to the bank, not the seller). I considered myself as having a generally strong position. Not only was I a first-time buyer, I also had an incredibly large catchment area, and very loose requirements - only really caring for square footage.

I made an offer on a house, it was accepted, I payed fees to secure the mortgage, perform searches and surveys, and assumed I'd have to pay solicitors' fees. The solicitors discovered that the house was not freehold, as had been advertised, and this was a dealbreaker for me. I liaised with the sellers, and reiterated my position - I would like to purchase the house, as it was advertised to me, for the price upon which we agreed. The seller's position was that they wanted me to cover the cost of buying the freehold, and that they wanted to buy a specific house that was to be sold to them off the market, to house their growing family.

My ability to walk away from that negotiation was greater than theirs. I cost myself no extra money, and my situation remains the same. I can continue searching for a house. I didn't budge on my offer, expecting the sellers to acquiesce.

Their house remains for sale, and I lost no further money in the endeavour. If they had reaccepted my offer, I would have closed and moved in. Either outcome was fine for me.

I made an offer on another house of £15k less than the listed "offers in region of" price, (about 10%). The estate agents took this to the sellers, who tried to get a higher offer. My position was as with the previous house, and the sellers' position was liquidating their late parents' house. I imagined their reasons for doing so were for simple monetary gain, and that they were in no rush. Both the sellers and I were able to painlessly walk away from the deal, so I said that I'd leave my offer open and continue looking. As a nice surprise, they accepted the offer, so here I sit, typing this answer. Similar to the previous situation, either outcome was fine for me.

As you can see, whether my offer was accepted or not had little bearing on the more important factor - how good my life is.


Make sure to familiarise yourself with the process of buying a house, and have enough money set aside to cover the expenses. Assume that any costs to do with investigating the house and conveyancing will be lost on every offer, as these are generally things you put yourself on the hook to pay before the seller is contractually obliged to go through with the sale. Make preparations to have these processes completed as quickly as possible to give the sellers less time to pull out between accepting your offer and exchanging contracts. I found that my solicitors were by far the slowest part of the process, so it could pay to pay a little more for good ones, or to do the conveyancing yourself (assuming you have the time).

It's pretty standard to request the seller remove the property from the market upon acceptance of your offer, and all of the estate agents with whom I interacted said it was standard procedure to cancel all viewings for a house upon which an offer has been accepted, (and not book any further viewings).

It's also worth trying to get a measure of the sellers' characters, if possible. If they seem like someone who's chancing it, and will play you around, save yourself the hassle and the money, and walk. Estate agents generally prefer you don't have any contact with the sellers, so this isn't always something you can do. The estate agents are being paid by the seller when the house is sold, so you can't believe anything they say either.

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