Once an offer is made and accepted on a property, you may think the price agreed is a done deal. However, there remains room for manoeuvre on both sides of the deal, meaning the buyer can reduce their offer or the seller can ask for more, as long as they do it at the right time during the conveyancing process.
When can you renegotiate during conveyancing?
The key point to understand is that the sale is not legally binding until you exchange contracts. The contracts of sale for a property will specify an agreed price and once both parties have signed and exchanged contracts, the buyer is committed to paying that price. Failure to do so could result in the forfeit of your deposit and possible legal action from the buyer.
While it is theoretically possible for either party to attempt to renegotiate the sale price after contracts have been exchanged, neither party is obliged to change the agreement. It is therefore unlikely that you will be able to renegotiate at this point unless there are particularly exceptional circumstances.
Why you might want to renegotiate before exchange of contracts
It is actually fairly common for there to be some amount of negotiation over the sale price after an initial offer has been made and there are two main reasons for this.
First, the checks and searches carried out by the buyer’s solicitor, or a building survey carried out on their behalf may reveal issues that affect the buyer’s perception of the property’s value. For example, they may discover that a new housing estate is due to be built near to the property, or that there are issues with the property’s roof which will be expensive to fix. The buyer may therefore want to negotiate a lower price to offset these issues.
Secondly, the seller may receive another offer, either for the same amount or higher, and ask the buyer if they are willing to up their offer to beat the competing offer. This is perfectly legal, even if it can be frustrating for the buyer, especially if they have already spent money on checks and searches or a survey.
Again, the key thing to remember is that until exchange of contracts takes place, either party can walk away from the deal at any time. It is therefore up to you (or your agent) to decide how keen the other party is to make the sale go ahead and judge how much room there is for negotiation over the price.
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