Can I Offer 20% Less Than The Asking Price?

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When searching for your ideal property, you may find one you love but feel the asking price is prohibitively high. It can be tempting to try negotiating a huge reduction by offering an ambitious amount of 20% or more below the original asking price. While technically you can make a low offer, there are several key considerations before doing this. A nuanced approach to assessing factors like pricing strategy, market conditions and seller circumstances will determine if discount bids are realistic or likely to offend.

Understanding Asking Prices

Before making cut-price offers, understand how asking prices typically get set:

  • They represent the amount sellers ideally want to receive to complete a sale.
  • The level aims to attract maximum buyer interest in the property.
  • Buyer feedback then indicates if the price needs adjustment.
  • Asking prices builds an expectation of negotiation in competitive markets.
  • Levels get benchmarked against prices achieved locally for comparable properties.
  • Special property features or unique attributes may justify higher pricing.
  • Location, land size, condition and enhancements influence price levels sellers request.

While aspirational for sellers, asking prices still reflect rational market value expectations. Discounting them requires justification.

Exchanging and Completing on the Same Day

Legally exchanging contracts and completing a property transaction on the same day is permitted in England and Wales, unlike some other countries. This accelerated process requires:

  • Both parties agree upfront to complete simultaneously rather than leaving a gap.
  • The buyer has immediate access to the full purchase funds on the exchange.
  • The finalised legal paperwork only requires dating upon completion.
  • Purchaser having arranged property insurance effective from exchange.
  • Immediate vacant possession of the property on completion.
  • The seller vacated the property early morning allowing the buyer to move in during the day.
  • Conducting the legal completion process early enough in the day for the buyer to get the keys.
  • Authorisation from the mortgage lender if the purchase involves secured financing.

While demanding total readiness from both parties, completing on exchange day is feasible for straightforward sales.

Research Local Market Value

Before making under-value bids, thorough market research helps realistically gauge current achievable values:

  • Review pricing and dates of recently sold comparable properties in the area. This indicates the competitive level buyers are paying.
  • Factor in any upward or downward price trends evident in the latest local sales.
  • Consider the property’s strengths relative to comparables that may justify higher pricing.
  • Account for any major distinguishing features lacking in the property that deduct worth.
  • Estimate the potential resale value with future enhancements factored in.
  • Calculate the average and median sales prices from multiple comparables.
  • Consult local selling prices per square foot/metre to compare value density.
  • Weigh up intangible factors like kerb appeal and view aspects.

Armed with evidence on realisable value in the current market, lowball offers to carry more credibility.

Maximising First Offers

When negotiating, a considered first offer gives buyers greater leverage. Strategies include:

  • Asking the seller about their price expectations to gauge flexibility.
  • Highlighting to the seller any defects requiring repair that justify discounts.
  • Make an offer at the upper end of your negotiation range to start positively.
  • Referencing comparable properties with evidence to back up the amount offered.
  • Linking the offer to what you can borrow based on professional mortgage advice.
  • Outlining other major outlays needed post-purchase to justify the level.
  • Emphasising how speedy and certainty of your offer benefits the seller.
  • Declaring how the property meets your requirements offering appeal.

Reasoned initial offers demonstrate serious intent and maximise the chance of favourable counterproposals.

Considering Motivated Sellers

In a tepid market or if the property has been listed for a significant time, a lower offer may realistically tempt a motivated seller. Signs to look for include:

  • The listing has remained unsold at the same price for many months indicating overpricing.
  • Evidence of previous sale agreements having fallen through.
  • The owner facing urgent time pressures like job relocation.
  • Signs the seller requires a quick sale such as property condition.
  • Lack of buyer interest and low viewing levels are apparent.
  • Price reductions have already been made implying flexibility.
  • Bereavement or divorce situations where participants are keen to sell.

With evidence the existing approach is not working for the seller, there may be strategic leverage to negotiate more ambitiously.

Handling Rejected Offers

When your substantially discounted initial offer is rejected, avoid antagonising the seller. Ways to respond positively include:

  • Avoiding frustration and maintaining a constructive tone.
  • Thank the seller for considering and engaging in your proposal.
  • Asking what factors caused them to decline and listening carefully.
  • Calmly requesting if there is scope to get closer through a counteroffer.
  • Outlining the maximum level you could feasibly proceed at, citing mortgage limits.
  • Highlighting again the benefits to them of your offer being prompt and no chain.
  • Suggesting an intermediate amount in between their asking price and your offer.
  • Conceding ground may ultimately achieve a sale but without compromising credibility.

Avoid rushing into a second discounted offer until feedback is gained. There may be room for negotiation through diplomacy.

Improving Offers with Conditions

To make large discounts on asking prices more enticing to sceptical sellers, skilful negotiation tactics can help:

  • Propose overcoming a certain barrier including fixtures and fittings to justify the lower level.
  • Make completion timing highly favourable like within 14 days.
  • Offer to purchase with no mortgage finance chain or survey conditions.
  • Volunteer flexibility around completion dates to meet their preferred timeline.
  • Requesting longer-term leases if a tenanted investment property.
  • Suggesting property marketing services you could provide when vacant.
  • Outlining additional budget available post-purchase to enhance the property.
  • Propose purchasing other properties from them to build a portfolio.

Packaging win-win concessions around the price proposal offset the discount offered. This can make the overall deal more appealing.

Can I Withdraw a Low Offer?

Legally, any initial offer made on a property, even substantially below the asking price, represents a potential intention to purchase that the seller can accept. However, lowball bidders do have options to withdraw politely:

  • Outlining new circumstances like a change in employment status or location.
  • Apologising for underestimating renovation costs after further inspection.
  • Explaining the offer relied on securing a sizeable mortgage now looking unlikely.
  • An unexpected change in family situation requires different property needs.
  • Affordability reassessment indicates the property stretches beyond reach.

As long as valid reasons are politely explained that frustrate the original low offer, a fair seller will understand withdrawing. But expectations of resuming negotiations later may be unrealistic after the upset caused.

Can Asking Price Properties Draw Offers?

Some sellers market properties as ‘asking price only’ showing no appetite to negotiate. However, determined discount bidders may still test their resolve:

  • Ask if there is flexibility at least on the inclusion of furnishings given the price stance.
  • Outline your ability to proceed immediately if a small percentage reduction is accepted.
  • Share examples of very similar properties that sold for less even if new to the market.
  • Suggest the rate of fall in the offer amount exceeds the time the property sits unsold.
  • Offer UK legal services as part of your culture where haggling is not frowned upon.

While a long shot, politely evidencing the benefits of a moderate decrease on an overvalued property may prompt the seller to reevaluate their stance. But their patience will be limited.

Considering an Intermediary

A third-party broker or local agent with rapport with the seller may indirectly help negotiate more favourably on your behalf:

  • They can float suggestive questions like ‘If an offer of x came in, would you consider it?’ to test flexibility.
  • Discuss with them first the rationale behind your substantially discounted offer so they can convey this sensitively but logically.
  • They can subtly underline the advantages to the seller of securing a sale rather than the property sitting dormant.

Their agent insights may indicate if there is latent flexibility that they can subtly leverage.

  • They can referee any animosity arising to smooth discussions.
  • Their involvement demonstrates your genuine intent despite the low offer level.

With insider connections, a professional go-between can discreetly plead the case for pricing concessions without damaging buyer relations.

Weighing Up Ethics

Before pursuing cut-price offers, ethical factors around exploiting sellers in duress should be considered:

  • Avoid capitalising on visibly desperate sellers if alternatives are viable.
  • Consider if offering an excessively low amount reasonable given your means.
  • Research property vulnerabilities like outstanding debts before targeting opportunistically.
  • Reflect carefully on what tactics uphold fairness.
  • Seek a balance where both parties feel respected through the process.
  • Consider if you would accept the same offer level if positions were reversed.

Ethical negotiation still allows room to achieve an advantageous deal through honest discussion and willingness to compromise. But intentionally undervaluing property assets requires moral scrutiny.


Asking prices certainly does not prohibit buyers from making ambitiously discounted opening offers, provided they are backed by evidence and reasoning. But for credibility, research is key along with understanding seller motivations. Big negotiating gambits also require skill and patience to navigate sensitively. Being prepared to justify discounts through concessions like speedy completion makes substantial reductions more palatable and constructive. With the right approach, an initial offer 20% or more below asking may open a negotiation gateway – or firmly close it. Either way, maintaining ethical standards ensures positive outcomes are still possible. In the process of negotiating, it’s crucial to be aware of various strategies, including the option of exchanging and completing on the same day. Understanding the implications and feasibility of exchanging and completing on the same day can significantly impact the negotiation process and the overall success of the transaction.

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