House Pricing Explained

It can be confusing trying to second-guess what the various price prefixes really mean

All you are trying to do is work out how much you will have to offer to secure a property you have set your heart on.

Ron Hastings shares his thoughts on the subject in this guide for the perplexed in plain Scottish:

It’s certainly not an exact art

There are many variants of price prefix used by selling agents in relation to the price sought, often leaving buyers trying to read between the lines. In this brief note I will try to explain, although with a strong caveat that these musings are simply my thoughts and interpretations born out of experience. It’s more a matter of style and presentation rather than substance and a suggestion of what the seller is hoping for.

As always the buyer can offer whatever they are prepared to pay and it will be up to the seller, not the sellers agent, whether or not to accept. It is worth remembering that there is a legal requirement under The Estate Agents Act for the selling agent to pass on any offer to the seller and failure to do so could result in a fine.

It depends on market conditions

The choice of price description is dependant on a number of factors including the selling conditions and whether it is a sellers market or a buyers market, the agents personal recommendations and preferences and the sellers expectations and timescales. In Scotland most properties will require a Home Report which includes a valuation by an independent RICS qualified Surveyor. An  exception is made for new builds or multiple properties sold as one. Anyone, including buyers, are entitled to see the Home Report so they can see when the property came to market as well as the valuation. Against that background there’s more clarity on price and less scope for cat and mouse tactics so a seller looking for a quick sale might advertise at a Fixed Price possibly below the Home Report valuation while a confident seller expecting competition and a premium is more likely to invite Offers Over and hope for competing offers at a closing date.

An evolving language

There has also been a tendency for terms previously only seen on the English side to creep over the Border including when an offer has been accepted but the deal has yet to be formally concluded. There is now an almost universally accepted expression of ‘Under Offer whereas previously it would simply be marked as ‘Sold’ in Scotland. Pre-sale marketing terms such as ‘In The Region Of’ in England is more usually expressed as ‘Offers Around’ in Scotland but essentially it’s the same. Another English term rarely seen here is ‘No Upwards Chain’, indicating that the seller is ready and willing to move. This is something that in Scotland we generally take for granted and we focus on the date of entry at the offer stage as an essential part of the deal. That date may be months ahead giving time to find another property but a deal with no date is a pretty hopeless deal which is open to delay and abuse.

Making your best offer

In the past most properties in Scotland would be marketed on an ‘Offers Over’ basis in expectation of  the marketing generating sufficient interest to attract multiple interests. At some stage a closing date would be fixed and offers submitted in a blind bidding scenario. The seller would choose the best in terms of price and prospects, which would generally be the top bid, but personal choice still allowed buyers to sell to a preferred bidder. In that situation this could leave a number of disappointed bidders who would have been prepared to offer more and others who paid over the odds to make sure they got what they wanted but they would rarely be told and most don’t want to  know!  On the other hand just because a property is marketed ‘Offers Over’ a buyer can offer at any time and if good enough and the seller is happy to take a bird in the hand attitude that could secure a deal without the uncertainty of losing out or disappointment of a failed closing date.

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