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An agent has shown to me a flat in London with asking price £450K. I like the flat and I am thinking about an offer that I can make. The agent (from Foxtons) told me that the owner was receiving offers for £425K, but was not accepting them (one made yesterday). And he believes that the owner would accept around £435K. At the same time the flat was first advertised end April, then they were not able to sell it and decided to sell with a different agency (you can see this on Rightmove).

Question. Should I believe the agent or would it be OK to make an offer £410K (in hope that he has misinformed me)? I like the flat but if I don't get it, this will not be the end of the world for me. On the other hand if the agent told me truth, I don't want to waist everyone's time. I understand that the answer depends very much on the agent and the owner, but I wonder if misinforming buyers is common in London.

As an aside, the area (sq meters) indicated on the floorplan is 10% higher than it is in reality (this can be checked by comparing to 5 other identical flats sold in the last 10 years in identical buildings nearby). I wonder if I can use this as an "argument" for proposing smaller price.

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    I put an offer in for my house at just over the asking price. There was 'apparently' another offer slightly above mine so I beat the offer by £50 and 'surprisingly' I got the offer accepted and I am now in the house. Also there may be other factors to consider depending on the seller's scenario - a lower offer from a cash buyer with no chain may be more appealing than a buyer that requires a mortgage and requires the sale of their house before they can purchase this. If you have any such advantage you should make this known to the estate agent / buyer, it may not help but can't do any harm.
    – Jsk
    Sep 20 at 8:15
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The estate agent is working for the seller, and most agents are paid a commission that is a percentage of the sale price. So it's in their interest to get as much money for the flat as they can. They aren't supposed to lie to you, but if they can give you the impression that the seller isn't interested in low offers, then they will.

You can make any offer you like for the flat, and the agent is obliged to pass it on to the seller. You can use any reason you like to offer less than the asking price (or no reason at all).

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  • Thanks for the answer Simon! I can believe that the agents are not supposed to lie. But how often do they actually lie? (if they do at all). I was explicitly told that a very recent offer of £425K was rejected, could this be a lie?... Or do you think that this is not a relevant question and I just should go ahead with an offer that I want to make? Somehow, if I offer £410K I feel like I am making one of the following two statements: either 1) I don't understand that 410<425 or 2) I understand that 410<425 and I am implicitly accusing the agent of lying to me... :)
    – aglearner
    Sep 18 at 18:59
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    @aglearner you can make any offer you like, whatever the agent has said. You can make a cheeky low offer, expecting to negotiate a more sensible price if you like. When I bought my house, I put in a low offer, expecting it to be rejected. Then agreed a higher one.
    – Simon B
    Sep 19 at 13:38
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    A house in Bristol was advertised in 1995 for £45,000. My budget ceiling was £40,000. I told the estate agent, and he said "They won't accept that". I said "Never mind, pass it on if you don't mind". Three weeks later, the phone rang - "Are you still interested at £40K?". I still live in it. Now worth £400K. Sep 19 at 18:01
  • There's an interesting chapter in one of the Freakonomics books (IIRC) which looks at real-estate agent behaviour and finds that on the whole they maximise their total commission takings by aiming to maximise the number of sales they do rather than maximising the price of each individual sale. For example, an agent who can engineer two quick £410K sales for the same amount of effort as one hard-won £425K sale is obviously going to make more commission from the sheer volume. Buyers who understand agent motivation may find it easier to get them "on their side" in negotiations.
    – timday
    Sep 20 at 13:56

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