If you have found your dream property then the next step is to make an offer. Take into consideration what you are willing and able to pay. Typically, a seller will pad their asking price about 10-15%, well aware that they may not get the full price. An offer of anything less than 85% may insult the seller and make him disinclined to work with you. Sometimes a seller may remain firm on the asking price, but be willing to negotiate elsewhere, such as with appliances, repairs, or closing costs.
Try and find out how long the property has been on the market as this can affect your negotiating position. In a seller's market, a well priced home may receive numerous bids in a couple of weeks. If this is the case, you probably don't have much leverage in terms of negotiation. If you aren't willing to pay the asking price, it is likely that someone else will. On the other hand, if a home has been on the market for several months, the seller is probably quite eager to sell and willing to make allowances and lower the asking price.
When making an offer, looks at similar homes that have recently sold. Compare prices of homes that are similar in size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, etc.
Always try to conceal your motivation, but also try to determine the seller's. For example, if the seller has already purchased a new home and has plans to move in soon and since nobody wants to pay two mortgages at one time the seller is probably eager to sell the property, and this puts you in a stronger position to negotiate.
Once you have made an offer the seller may choose to accept it, decline it, or submit a counter offer. More often than not they will try to negotiate the price you have offered. As a buyer, you are trying to get the lowest possible price, while, the seller is trying to get the most money for their home. This tends to require some haggling such as keeping the appliances.
Once you and the seller have agreed on a price for the property you will need to pay a deposit (which is usually between 5% - 10% of the agreed price of the property). This deposit should be paid directly to their Solicitor who will give you a receipt of payment. This deposit is refundable until the final contracts are signed. Never give a deposit directly to the seller or anyone other than a Solicitor.
For more information on buying a property on your own download our property guide