We found a property before coronavirus that we like. We want to put an offer in now the housing market has reopened but we are confused as to what level to go in at.
We are reading that prices will come down this year, and don’t want to pay too much. But we don’t want to lose out on it either.
How much can the estate agent tell us about what offers have already been made? Or about what we should or need to offer? There seem to be some unspoken rules about offers not being revealed to other interested parties.
Are estate agents allowed to give us any advice on where to pitch our offer, and is there a law that says they can’t or is it just convention?
How much can the estate agent tell us about the offers already been made?
Buying agent Henry Pryor says: So, you’d like to know how far you can push the price but don’t want to lose the property? Anything else? Water into wine perhaps?
How about stretching loaves and fishes to feed say 5,000?
Seriously, like all negotiations both sides are trying to balance the risk of losing the deal with getting the best price. The seller has an estate agent to help him, you presumably want to do this yourself.
The agent isn’t a broker trying to come up with an equitable deal, their job is to get the best deal they can for their client who is paying them for this service.
Other than basic consumer legislation the agent’s job is to pick your pocket until you say ‘no’.
No agent ever said to their client ‘I think that’s enough, the buyer could pay more but I think you should accept this offer’. It just doesn’t happen.
They can’t lie to you, they can’t hide material things from you. But although they can guide you – and some will try harder than others – their job is to get the best for their client.
If you want your own advice then ask another agent to help, or consider getting advice from a buying agent who represent buyers in such negotiations.
An agent is legally obliged to pass on any offer to his client but I’m not aware of any law that says the agent can’t tell you what other offers have been received.
Some think it is unprofessional, but you might offer much more if you have to bid blind. But in my experience, most will help you to craft a bid if it’s in their client’s interest.
Buying a home is reckoned to be one of the most stressful things you can do in your life, but that’s often because people are unprepared and they mistake the estate agent for a broker.
If you prepare properly before you go house hunting then it is usually a much more enjoyable experience.
Mark Hayward, chief executive of the body representing estate agents, NAEA Propertymark says: An estate agent can tell you whether there’s been other offers on the property in question, but they won’t disclose the specific amounts.
Agents will be able to give buyers guidance based on the current sellers circumstances, but it’s important to remember that agents are acting on behalf of the seller, not the buyer.
This is all covered within the Estate Agents Act 1979, which ensures both buyers and sellers are treated fairly, and this law remains enforced.
MailOnline Property expert Myra Butterworth says: Ultimately, a property is worth what you’re willing to pay for it. And only you can decide on that figure.
Your decision will need to take into account issues such as your personal circumstances and how much finance you can raise if you need to have a mortgage to buy the property.
For example, if the property you want to buy is a ‘forever home’ where you intend to spend several decades, you may be less concerned about needing to climb the property ladder and the money you make from it.
You may be willing to extend your borrowing capacity in this case to secure the sale as traditionally, the amount of time you spend in a property helps to iron out the peaks and troughs in price fluctuations.
However, it is understandable that you want to make a decision based on the best information you have at the time, and some of that information may not be forthcoming from the agent.
If an agent lets you know that other offers have been made, they may refuse to divulge details, while others might guide you in the direction of what would be acceptable, and some might give full disclosure on the exact sum that’s been offered and turned down.
There is no law stopping them from telling you the amount, but there is also no rule that says they must do.
However, the agent is obliged to let his client know of any offers made and so make sure you put any offer in writing. It means you can, at least, rest assured that your offers have been received by the vendor.