29

Me and one other buyer have been asked to make our best and final offers on a house after us both making initial offers.

I believe I am in a good position as stated here and I will reiterate this to the estate agent when I make my offer.

I have read that offering an odd amount such as £100,123 would be better than £100,000 just to outbid anyone else making an offer of £100,000.

Are there any other tips for making a best and final offer other than the two I have already mentioned?

Update: I should have probably mentioned that the estate agent told me the initial offer made by the other party. This offer was around £1500 higher than my initial offer (<1% of the property price higher) so seemed insignificant in the scheme of things but I now think this might be a ploy to scare me into making a ridiculous offer.

Second Update: Further to this the estate agent gave a deadline of approximately 24 hours after I was initially told that a best and final offer was to be made - presumably this is to force me into a rash decision of making the aforementioned ridiculous offer.

  • 1
    "This offer was around £1500 higher than my initial offer and <1% of the property price " Do you mean it exceeded your offer by less than 1% of the property price? – Acccumulation Jul 28 at 0:49
  • 2
    Did you mean you and one other buyer? Because I don't think you can both make offers to sell the same house. – Michael Jul 28 at 2:15
  • 1
    Remember that you as a buyer can add terms that's not about money in your offer. For instance that the offer is valid for 24 hours. Or that other potential buyers shouldn't be informed about the offer. That way you can put a bit of pressure on the seller instead of them putting the pressure on you. Edit: I don't know the laws of UK, it's possible there are limits to what you can add to your offer. – Polygorial Jul 28 at 7:13
  • 2
    @Jsk, one point - £1500 IS NOT insignificant in the scheme of things. They will jump oin an offer higher by £100. – Fattie Jul 28 at 11:45
  • 11
    May I plead with everyone. If you don’t have experience or knowledge specifically of the UK (actually England & Wales) property market, do not answer or comment. Your experience is not relevant, because the market works very differently from what you’re used to. – Mike Scott Jul 28 at 18:20
59

Personally I would send back this note:

"Thanks, we have already made an offer. Feel free to come back to us if you have a counter-offer in the future. For now we are persuing other properties.

Note that the situation suggested by the agent/seller is unbelievably bad on your end (and for the other buyer).

  1. They are under no obligation, whatsoever

  2. They are giving out zero information

It is simply a fishing trip by them.

Be aware that, as soon as both of you put in a "final" offer, let's say 110 and 115. The agent will simply write back to you saying:

Thanks for your offer of 115. At this time 120 could secure the property.

You would be taking part in a borderline scam!

Be aware that "final offer" means nothing, and gives no advantage to you!.

They will simply look at these new offers and then think, "oh these are interesting, I wonder what we can get".

There is no benefit, whatsoever, to you (or the other buyer).

Property negotiations in the UK are gritty; you have to be pretty aggressive / clear thinking.

Important! What does the phrase 'final offer' mean?

In negotiations you often use phrases in English such as

  • "It's my best offer!"
  • "I swear this is my limit!"
  • "I can't go any higher than X!"
  • "This would have to be our final offer!"
  • "This is a whole-budget offer!"
  • "This is a walk-away offer."

All of this is just colorful language. When you say something like "best!", "final!", "highest!" etc, there is no specific meaning.

(There is, utterly no actual legal or accounting meaning. But there is not even any "meaning" in language - it's simply "colorful language".)

Some folks have commented that the Seller may or may not be "honest". Fortunately (so to speak), that is not the issue...

When the Seller says "Send in your final offer!" it's just colorful language meaning:

  • "Send in more offers!"

There is no meaning if you add adjectives such as final, last, best, most powerful, decisive, aggressive, high, etc.

  • It could be that people not familiar w/ the UK market are thinking of an actual legal mechanisms, perhaps an "auction" or "dutch Auction", "sealed Auction", "tender" or whatever.

This has no connection to any of that.

When the agent happened to say send in more 'final' offers, it is just colorful language, it has no meaning, mechanism, effect - it means literally nothing. It's just like saying enthusiastically "Send in more offers - really good ones! Let's do it!"

That "deadline" thing...

"Further to this the estate agent gave a deadline of approximately 24 hours..."

Just ignore anything an agent says about "deadlines". Do what you want in your own time.

Certainly, at any split second you can lose out on buying a house, for numerous reasons. That works both ways. Any "deadlines" mentioned by anyone are fatuous.

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    What's to stop OP from sending in another offer, and then if the seller does play further games, withdraw at that point? OP could resubmit their existing offer, raise it by £1501, or any other number of choices. What they have to gain is that if the seller is just trying (rationally) to maximize their sale price, but are ethical and mean what they say, OP may get the house they want at a price they are willing to pay. – stannius Jul 28 at 0:02
  • 8
    @stannius The problem is that the “further games” may happen after the buyer has spent irrecoverable money on a mortgage application or a survey or searches. Gazumping is pretty common in a fast-moving market, and you don’t really want to buy from someone whose showing signs that they might indulge in it. – Mike Scott Jul 28 at 7:26
  • 4
    I have a close family member who is a real estate agent. The statement in this answer that asking for a "best and final offer" is a trick is simply not correct. "A best and final offer" means exactly what it says... the seller will consider those offers and pick one. Remember, this is just one deal for the real estate agent, and the agent only gets a small fraction of the price. Screwing people over to get just a bit more money on one deal doesn't make sense. That agent is going to be dealing with other agents over and over again. – DaveG Jul 28 at 13:36
  • 1
    @DougDeden No, an offer made in writing that doesn’t specify it will still be assumed by the law to be subject to contract. No offer is ever binding until contracts have been exchanged. How much experience do you actually have of the English & Welsh house-buying system? I’ve worked in the industry for twenty years. – Mike Scott Jul 28 at 17:12
  • 3
    IME, "Best and Final Offers" is not unusual in the UK, and while it doesn't prevent "Gazumping", nobody I know has had an experience where the seller entertains further offers.Often the reason for doing this process is the seller wants to get on with it and not have a drawn out bidding process. – CMaster Jul 29 at 9:13
11

The question comes in how much do you like the house? If you like it, and can see yourself living there for the next 25 years you may consider writing a letter to the owners about how you see yourself living in the home. This would might include raising children, and decorating ideas. There are some cases, that I read about, where lower bids win because of such a letter. This may not work if you are dealing with institutional ownership of the property, but can work if you can make a human connection.

Another thing to play in your favor is the financial position you are in. I would include that with any letter you write. While you won't win against a cash buyer, you may win against someone with 10% down and a slightly higher bid.

In your agent's estimation how serious are they about best and final? You may put in a bid with the understanding that you can go a bit higher. They may come back to you with, "well if you can go 1,888 higher the house is yours".

If this house is not perfect that do not feel obligated to go max price. There will be other homes that come up for sale.

My Update: If you really believe that the agent and seller is being this dishonest you'd probably do best by walking away. However, in general, I would temper my editorial comments. The seller wants two things that can be competing interest. The first is a quick smooth sale, the second as much money as possible. They probably have an eye on their new house and they may also be up against competing offers. If they can get 3K more for their house, then they can up their offer for the new house as well.

This kind of thing is not unheard when housing is in high demand. Currently the low mortgage rates is increasing demand.

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    This is nice in theory, but it ignores the fact that in the UK the agents will probably have made it very clear to the sellers to ignore anything that does not come from the agents themselves. Going behind the agent's back is a high risk strategy for the seller, even if the potential buyer is honest and genuine (and many are neither, of course). – alephzero Jul 27 at 21:39
  • 5
    Anecdote warning: The "writing a letter" trick does work in some cases, especially when the owner has a strong emotional connection to the home. We won the sale on our first home over 11 other buyers because we wrote a letter, and we were not the highest offer. The owner had built the house 65 years prior and lived in it ever since. After we moved in, the neighbors told us how much the letter had impacted him because he connected with some of our personal details. Be genuine, and not over-the-top, but know your audience. – Dan A. Jul 28 at 0:57
  • 1
    There seems to be some vast confusion about the phrase final offer. It's literally identical to "my best offer!" or "a really good offer!" No "final" offer is "final", that is meaningless. Virtually every time I've ever made anyone a "final!" offer or "best!" offer I've made another one, and ditto in the other direction. there is huge confusion in this question. Nobody is being dishonest. – Fattie Jul 28 at 9:23
  • 1
    You keep saying that nobody is being dishonest, now putting it in bold. However this is presumably on the assumption that there really is another offer. There are plenty of stories of how the mysterious other bidder pulled out once the bidder telling the story declined to increase their bid yet again. It doesn't matter whether this idea of a final offer is meaningless or not, telling someone this will be their final offer when you know that isn't true is dishonest. If I were to give any advice it would be that estate agents cannot be trusted and this phraseology cannot be trusted either. – Eric Nolan Jul 28 at 9:55
  • 2
    @Fattie the seller is saying "we have multiple offers, so if you're lowballing, now's your chance to up your bid to potentially beat the other guy". No one is claiming calling it a "best and final" offer legally obligates them to anything. Whether it's in the buyer's best interest to send an offer for the highest amount they're willing to pay or not depends a lot on whether the competing offer really exists; there's what people are saying could be a lie. – Kat Jul 28 at 16:28
1

If you haven't already, consider making an offer with an escalation clause. Basically, you say, for example: "I'm offering $100,000 and I'm willing to beat any other legitimate offer by $1,000, up to a maximum of $120,000."

| improve this answer | |
  • 23
    You’ll end up paying exactly $120,000. Never, ever, tell the other party what your upper limit is, because if you do so then that’s what it will cost you. – Mike Scott Jul 28 at 7:19
  • 7
    @Nobody Buyers don’t have agents in the UK (except in rare circumstances, mostly at the very high end of the market). – Mike Scott Jul 28 at 7:20
  • 3
    @SteveCox All the seller has to do is get a friend or family member to offer $119,000, now they know that you will pay $120,000. The offer can always be withdrawn if you back out and don’t go ahead with the $120,000 price. Or the seller just says “I’ve now decided that $120,000 is the least I will accept”. – Mike Scott Jul 28 at 16:59
  • 4
    @Cody The UK (actually England & Wales) property market works very differently to the US one, and experience is not transferable at all. – Mike Scott Jul 28 at 18:15
  • 5
    @SteveCox You don’t actually have any experience or knowledge of the UK property market, do you? Estate agents in the UK aren’t licensed, just for example. (OK, technically there’s a negative licensing regime, but it doesn’t inform their actions or decisions.) – Mike Scott Jul 28 at 18:17
0

The previous answers ignore the way estate agents operate in the UK. Of course this answer assumes the agents are reputable and honest - otherwise all bets are off on what might happen.

First, having appointed an agent, the seller has agreed that ALL communication with potential buyers is carried out through the agent. If a buyer tries to make direct contact, either they will be politely told to to contact the agent, or ignored. It is a high risk strategy for the seller to attempt to go behind the agent's back. The agent may simply terminate the relationship, and will probably warn all other agents in the area not to do business with them, should the seller's private attempt to find a buyer falls through.

Second, the "last and final offer" is normally a legally binding procedure: the seller and the highest offerer are both required to accept this as the basis for the sale, in exactly the same way that the final bid in an auction is legally binding on both parties.

So refusing to submit a final offer is simply walking away from the sale. The agent may assume that the potential buyer doesn't understand the rules of the game and ask whether they really want to resubmit their previous offer, but the agent isn't under any obligation to do that.

The entire purpose of the "last and final offer" is to put an end to a series of offers, counter-offers, re-negotiatons of exactly what is being sold, etc and bring the process to a conclusion. Unless somebody is being dishonest, there is no way to game the process: the highest offer wins, and the selling process is terminated.

| improve this answer | |
  • 4
    Is a "best and final offer" legally binding? How is it different to making a normal offer on a house? When making a normal offer you are not legally bound immediately however you are at the exchange of contracts stage of the house buying process. – Jsk Jul 27 at 22:50
  • 7
    Nothing is legally binding until contracts have been exchanged, which will happen months after a “last and final offer” is made and accepted. – Mike Scott Jul 28 at 7:18
  • 3
    @Jsk The question has a UK tag, US jurisdiction does not apply. – Marianne013 Jul 28 at 11:48
  • 9
    Do you have a citation for the seller being legally obligated to accept the highest offer? Another answer claims the opposite. – Kat Jul 28 at 16:30
  • 2
    After searching for any UK law to back up the claims in this answer, I have only found UK sources that claim the opposite. Nothing is binding until exchange of contracts. – user2357112 supports Monica Jul 29 at 4:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.