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Q: We are buying our first home and would like to start by putting in an offer below the asking price.

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How much below the asking price is reasonable? We do not want to lose out because our offer is too low but obviously do not want to pay more than we need to.

 A: The willingness of sellers to accept a lower offer depends on how well the property is priced, their circumstances and urgency to sell. Never assume that the seller will take a lower offer, even in a buyer’s market. 

An offer that is 20% below the asking
price is rare in the primary market below R1.5 million but more prevalent in the market above R20m, depending on factors including the sellers’ motivation.
A seller may accept such an offer if they need to make a quick sale, if the property requires significant work or if they really just want the property off their hands. Another could be where the price is significantly higher compared to peer properties.
An offer that is 10% less than the asking price may be considered by sellers of older properties with seriously dated finishes or those needing to sell urgently. 
If you are a cash buyer, or do not have to sell a property first, the sellers may well be willing to accept a lower price of about 5% as it means that the transaction can be wrapped up quite quickly.
Likewise, if the sellers have already put in an offer elsewhere, they may be willing to accept a lower offer to speed up the process. – Samuel Seeff, chair person of the Seeff Property Group

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