When you decide to buy a particular property, you do not necessarily have to pay the advertised price. If the property is being sold through an estate agent, you should tell the estate agent what you are prepared to pay for the property. The estate agent will then put this offer to the owners.
If the owners do not accept your first offer, you can decide to make an increased offer. There is no limit on the number of times you can make offers on a property. If you make a written offer it will always be made subject to contract. This means that you will not be committed to the purchase before finding out more about the state of the property. If you make an oral offer this is never legally binding.
When the offer has been accepted
When your offer for the property has been accepted you will have to consider the following:
- Is a holding deposit payable?
- Arranging a mortgage
- Is a survey necessary?
- Who will do the necessary legal work
Arranging a survey
The valuation which is done for whoever is lending the money is not a survey. You should consider whether or not to have an independent survey carried out in addition to the valuation. The survey would not only consider the value of the property, but would also examine the structure of the property and should identify any existing or potential problems. There are two levels of survey:
- Full structural survey - suitable for a property which is large, more than 80 - 90 years old or in doubtful condition
- Intermediate or ‘house/flat buyers report’ that gives a report on the condition of the parts of the house that are easy to see and to get at and may recommend further tests or investigations, for example, a specialist check for woodworm. This is particularly suitable for properties built this century which appear reasonably sound. It is much cheaper than a full structural survey.
You can use the same surveyor to do both the valuation and the survey (which may be cheaper), or you can use a different surveyor for the survey.
If the surveyor reports that there are some problems with the property, you will have to consider whether you still want to go ahead with the purchase or want to negotiate further about the price. The surveyor will usually advise you as to how the identified problems should be dealt with and the likely costs.