Negotiating House Price: Tips for Buyers and Sellers in South West London


The ability to negotiate a house price isn’t a skill that comes naturally to everyone. However, with house prices on Rightmove averaging just over £1million in south west London, even a small percentage drop could make a big difference to your budget, whether you are buying or selling.

Following the rollercoaster ride of 2022-23, the UK housing sector is fluctuating as we move into 2024. Rightmove reports that average sold prices in south west London were down 2% last year, yet they remain 6% higher than the 2020 peak. In the local property market, Wandsworth house prices have risen by 5.8% in the past year. Demand for desirable properties is still out there. Adding to the mix, more properties are coming onto the market and reduced mortgage rates could encourage potential buyers to make a purchase.

It can be hard to grab a bargain, but it’s always worth understanding how to negotiate house price when you buy or sell in Streatham, Battersea or Clapham. From assessing a property’s value to knowing when to offer less, we look at the stages of a successful house price negotiation.

House price negotiation tips for buyers

1. Know your market

Before you start viewing properties, you need to have a good idea of how much you should be paying for the type of home you want in your preferred location. Look carefully at homes for sale and how they are priced on property portals and estate agents’ website. Analyse the price of the home and what you get for your money in terms of the number of bedrooms, floorspace and key features. Look too at recent sold price as well as how long the properties were on the market.

2. Find out about the property and seller

Find out as much as you can about the property that interests you by asking the estate agent or seller plenty of questions – and learn about the seller too. You need to know how long it has been on the market, the reasons for selling and whether there’s any urgency to the sale. If they want to sell quickly, they may be willing to accept a lower offer to seal the deal. Find out how much interest there is in the home and whether there have been any offers. When you view the property, get a sense of what might need replacing – windows, boilers, kitchens and bathrooms will all be costly.

3. Turn house viewings to your advantage

How does the property compare to similar properties in the area – can you see signs that it may be overpriced? Note the size of the property, unique or period features, its condition, and how it measures up against modernisation or renovations in comparable homes.

4. Respond carefully when you view property

Don’t show your hand – if the seller and agent can tell that you’ve found your dream home, they may assume you will pay a higher price to secure it. Keep it factual, and make the most of your opportunity to ask smart questions without revealing how interested you are.

5. Know your financial position

You need to have a realistic idea of how much you can afford to pay for the property – this will help you set a maximum budget. If you’re looking at properties at the top of your comfort zone, you will have to be prepared to walk away if your seller won’t negotiate. If you need a loan, having an agreement in principle and a deposit will make you a more attractive proposition with more bargaining power. Remember to factor interest rate rises into your final budget.

6. Decide how much to offer

How much you offer will depend on the things we’ve mentioned – the strength of the market at the time, the condition of the property and your own budget. If the home has been on sale for a while; if the vendors need to move quickly to secure their own purchase; if you’re a cash buyer, for example. All these things could give you the edge and allow you to go in lower. Other factors, such as your being well organised and ready to act or the seller using multiple agents – all eager to make the sale – can also have an impact.

As with any form of haggling, begin with a low offer you are prepared to increase – 5-10% below the asking price is a figure that’s often quoted.

7. Put in an offer and emphasise your strengths

Don’t just make the offer, present your case for buying the property alongside how much you want to pay. So, if you’re a first-time buyer, you’re chain-free, you have a mortgage agreement in principle or you’re a cash buyer, these could make you a more attractive proposition than asking price alone.

8. The second offer (and third)

If your offer is rejected, the estate agent will come back to you with the opportunity to increase your bid a second or even a third time. This is when the process can become nail-biting but keep your cool and stay business-like and polite. Don’t be tempted to go above your price ceiling and be careful about sellers ‘throwing in’ items such as white goods rather than dropping their price.

9. Negotiating house price after survey

If your offer is accepted, you could ask the seller to take the property off the market and minimise the risk of you being gazumped. You could also take out buyer protection insurance at this stage, just in case. It’s a good idea to move swiftly to arranging the survey. You can still negotiate on price if the survey highlights issues that will incur costs for you – or walk away from the sale if you think that’s best. Remember that your mortgage company’s valuation survey could also question the price you have agreed to pay.

10. When do lower bids work?

A low offer on a house is more likely to be successful if you’re a chain-free buyer, the property has spent a long time on the market, hasn’t attracted many viewings, or you can match the vendor’s preferred completion date. For instance, if the vendor wants a quick sale to relocate for work, or their new house is part of a chain with an established completion date.

11. What should I avoid saying during negotiations?

Stay within budget, give yourself room to negotiate, be realistic – and never let your emotions take over. Don’t start negotiations too high unless you know the seller has received similar bids already, and don’t place too much value on white goods added to sweeten the deal. Stay calm even if you’re desperate to get the house, and always be polite to avoid making a bad impression.

House price negotiation tips for sellers

1. Know how much your house is worth

The same applies to sellers as buyers – do plenty of research into the current market in your area and recent sold prices, so you know the true worth of the property.

2. Find out more about your buyer

When an offer comes in, find out as much as you can about your buyer. Are they a cash buyer, a first-timer, do they have a mortgage offer, have they sold their own place, are they in a chain, or moving into rented accommodation? Also find out if they have a conveyancing solicitor ready to go – this will give you an indication of how organised and serious they are.

3. Get advice from your estate agent

Your estate agent has the experience and expertise to advise you about whether to accept, counter or reject an offer so talk to them. They can give you their perspective on whether they think the buyer will go higher and how much interest the property is attracting – whether you could hold out for a higher offer.

4. Consider a sealed bid

If there is plenty of interest in your home, you could consider sealed bids. This approach is a bit like an auction. Buyers submit sealed single bids to your estate agent. They can only submit one bid so it should be the maximum they will pay.

5. Make a counteroffer

If you receive an offer that you feel is unacceptable, you can go back with a counteroffer. If you are willing to negotiate, your counteroffer will probably need to be below the asking price – especially if you added an extra 5-10% in the first place, as some sellers do. But avoid going below the price your research tells you the home is worth.

If there are issues with the property or things the buyer doesn’t like, you could offer to complete the repairs rather than dropping the price. You could also throw in extras such as furniture items the buyer particularly likes.

If you’re looking to buy or sell in the south west London areas of Wandsworth, Clapham, Battersea, or Balham, talk to us. We’d be happy to advise you about achieving the right price for your home in the current market and show you our current properties if you’re hoping to buy.