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What Does Under Offer Mean?

What Does Under Offer Mean? MAS East Midlands

When you come across the term "Under Offer" in the context of the UK property market, it doesn't signify a done deal. Instead, it indicates that a potential buyer has submitted an offer, and the seller is in the process of considering it.
2023-11-26, by Frank Flegg, Director at BNI East Midlands

#Marketing || #Sales || #Realty ||

Table of contents:

Contrary to what some might assume, this stage does not bind either party legally.

The Dance of Negotiations

Initial Stages

  1. Offer Made: A buyer expresses interest in a property by submitting an offer, which the estate agent conveys to the seller.
  2. Listing Status Change: The estate agent updates the property's status to 'Under Offer.'

Ongoing Negotiations

  1. Seller Response: The seller can choose to decline, counter, or accept the initial offer, leading to potential negotiations.
  2. Continuous Market Presence: Notably, the property remains on the market, allowing other potential buyers to enter the scene.

Preliminary Checks: Ensuring a Serious Bid

As negotiations unfold, a reputable estate agent conducts thorough checks on potential buyers to assist the seller in decision-making. These checks include:

  • Financial Verification: Confirming the buyer's financial readiness with a valid Decision in Principle or mortgage offer.
  • Deposit Confirmation: Verifying that the proposed deposit aligns with the mortgage terms.
  • Stamp Duty Consideration: Ensuring the buyer can afford the necessary stamp duty or equivalent taxes.

It's worth noting that auctioned properties follow a different protocol, as contracts are effectively exchanged upon the fall of the hammer.

What's the Deal with Rightmove?

For many house-hunters, the first encounter with the "Under Offer" label happens on Rightmove, the UK's leading property portal. The transition is marked by a dark grey strip in the property description. Importantly, the status remains consistent across various advertising platforms.

Making a Move on an Under Offer Property

Curious if you can make an offer on a property already under consideration? Absolutely. Estate agents are obligated to entertain additional offers, even if they don't disclose existing ones. Persistence might be key here, as agents can sometimes forget to update the listing.

Strategy for Buyers: To Offer Lower or Not?

The decision to offer below the asking price depends on various factors, including market demand and the buyer's position. Cash buyers or those able to expedite the process might find success with lower offers, but it's a delicate balance of strategy and timing.

The Unsettling Dance: Gazumping

Gazumping, the act of accepting a higher offer after an initial acceptance, is a contentious practice. While generally frowned upon, there are scenarios where it might be considered justifiable. However, most instances involve complexities in the sales process rather than deliberate delays by the initial buyer.

The Flip Side: Gazundering

On the flip side, gazundering involves making a lower offer than an existing one. Though rare, it can occur in declining markets or quick house sale schemes. It's a practice discouraged by industry professionals and often results in rejection.

Unethical Territory: Misleading by Estate Agents

Regrettably, some unscrupulous agents may mislead sellers by not disclosing higher offers, often for personal gain. Such practices are illegal and can lead to severe consequences, including the closure of the agency and legal action.

Patience in the Waiting Game

While a property marked "Under Offer" ideally transitions swiftly to "Sold Subject to Contract," the reality can differ. Delays often arise during surveys and legal processes, and a vigilant estate agent is crucial in navigating potential obstacles.

Maximizing Opportunities: Staying Alert in a Volatile Market

For those eyeing a property that has temporarily fallen out of the market, proactive steps can position you well:

  • Regularly communicate your interest with the estate agent.
  • Set up alerts on property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla.
  • Keep tabs on the property's status and be prepared to act promptly.

In a Property Chain: Timing is Key

If you find yourself in a property chain, making an offer depends on the stage of the process. Advanced stages with completed surveys and approved mortgages are more amenable to new offers, whereas early stages may warrant caution.

Deciphering the Lingo: 'Under Offer' vs. 'Sold, Subject to Contract'

In the realm of estate agents' language, 'Under Offer' and 'Sold, Subject to Contract' essentially convey the same message – an accepted offer. The choice of terminology often depends on the preference of the estate agent, with no substantive difference in meaning.

Navigating the Unpredictable Waters

The journey from 'Under Offer' to a successful sale can be unpredictable. As a buyer or seller, aligning with a reputable estate agent becomes crucial. The intricate dance of negotiations, checks, and potential pitfalls underscores the need for diligence in every step of the property transaction process.

Frank Flegg

Frank Flegg contributor to
Director at BNI East Midlands
Digital Marketing Agency