Many Britons could be at risk of paying over the odds on their house purchases, with 30 per cent of homeowners saying they did not negotiate at all on the price of their current property.
A huge stumbling block for many was their lack of knowledge, with more than one in five confessing that they didn’t know how to negotiate according to research by Barclays.
It also revealed that homeowners aged between 25 and 34 experienced the most anxiety and stress when trying to haggle down the price of their home, compared to those aged 65-plus who said they were much more comfortable with the process.
UK home buyers often feel too embarrassed to negotiate on price, according to Barclays
Fear of losing the property, impatience with the buying process and embarrassment over negotiating were all cited as common reasons why home buyers refrained from haggling.
Some admitted they had found the thought of negotiating to be intimidating or scary, whilst others were concerned about upsetting the seller.
‘Our research has found that a considerable number of Britons lack the skills or confidence needed to negotiate successfully on the price of their home,’ said Rob Smith, head of behavioural science at Barclays.
‘We are more likely to negotiate on a used car than we are on a property, highlighting the unique emotional nature of one of the biggest purchases people make in their lifetime.
‘Understandably, the process can feel daunting – particularly if you fear losing out on your dream home. But a successful negotiation can result in extra money to bolster your family finances or invest back into your home.’
How you can get negotiation-ready
1. First and foremost, do your research to determine how the property compares to similar homes for sale in the area.
‘I advise looking at a number of properties before offering,’ says Nigel Bishop, a property search consultant at Recoco. ‘The more properties you see in a given area, the better sense you’ll get of what you should be paying.’
It is also possible to get a sense of current prices in the area by looking online.
‘Look on the online portals such as Rightmove or Zoopla, and look at sold prices over the past two years within the postcode you are looking to buy in. This will give you a greater feel for what the price should be,’ says Bishop.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller’s estate agent prying questions about how long the property has been on the market, why the vendor is selling and whether they already have their next home secured.
‘Ask the estate agent what the sellers’ motivations are and try and make your offer accommodate them,’ says buying agent Henry Pryor.
‘Find out whether the seller needs a quick sale, and if they have had any other interest or offers.
‘If there have been other offers, find out whether these were unacceptable because the buyer wasn’t able to proceed, or because they just didn’t offer enough.
Finding out what other local properties are selling for is a good starting point for negotiations
‘Agents will often say, “We have had two offers that have been turned down” – but won’t tell you what the reason was unless asked.’
3. If you want to negotiate, it is important to ensure you are in a position where you can actually proceed with a purchase.
‘Make sure you either have already agreed the sale of your own property, or that you have a mortgage agreement in principle,’ says Bishop.
Who are the UK’s most confident negotiators?
Residents of the port cities of Plymouth and Bristol are Britain’s most confident negotiators with 51 percent and 42 per cent backing their respective haggling skills according to Barclays.
But residents of Edinburgh and Nottingham are the least confident in their ability to strike a deal, with only 24 per cent and 29 per cent confident in driving down property prices.
‘The key to any property negotiation is to prove you can proceed and, if you can’t, I would suggest you hang back from any property until you can.’
4. Decide what the maximum is that you are prepared to pay and don’t allow yourself to be bullied by the estate agent.
‘Even if you won the lottery last weekend, the fact that you can afford to pay more doesn’t mean that you have to,’ says Pryor.
‘The estate agent’s job is to pick your pocket until you say no, so the sooner you tell them that this is your limit, the quicker they will turn on the seller and force them to come down to your level.’
5. It can be unwise to insult the seller with an outrageously cheeky offer, so it is best to be realistic when offering under the asking price.
‘Typically, about 10-15 per cent under the asking price is an acceptable place to start,’ says Bishop, ‘but there is a danger of offering too low.
‘If you insult the seller with a very low offer, you might find they lose their trust in you as a credible buyer.’
‘You can also alienate the estate agents because, in the future, when you ask to look at another property, they will see you coming and be less responsive or helpful.’
6. Remember, you can re-negotiate until the exchange of contracts.
‘Because of the way we sell homes in England, you can actually re-negotiate or withdraw at any time without penalty before you have exchanged contracts,’ says Pryor.
‘But it is always better to have done all your homework before you get into paying costs or making a legal commitment.’
If any structural issues are picked up in the survey, this might give you a reason to re-negotiate
A common reason why you might want to re-negotiate after having an initial offer accepted is if the building survey throws up costly maintenance issues.
Bishop adds: ‘If a surveyor comes back and says you will need a new roof in 10 years, then get a quote and re-negotiate.’
7. Finally, don’t get too carried away by the negotiation itself and remember this is about you, your home and your life.
‘Negotiation is a psychological game and some people want to feel like they have won,’ says Bishop.
‘There are some vendors who, no matter what you offer, will want more: so just have the maximum figure in mind that you’re prepared to offer, and don’t allow yourself to get carried away.’
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.
So for now, your best course of action is to stay put.
If you are coming to the end of a fixed deal, roll onto your supplier’s standard variable tariff.
These default deals are protected by the energy watchdog’s price cap — £1,277 a year for the average gas and electricity user — until April 2022. And there are no exit fees, so you are free to switch away the moment better deals return.
For those who signed up to ultra‑cheap deals a year or two ago, there is no getting away from the fact that your bills are going to rise.
But locking into a new fixed deal now could mean you’re hit with even higher energy costs over the cold winter months.
To avoid adding to any confusion, Money Mail has temporarily removed all energy tariffs from our Best Buys tables.
But rest assured, we are tracking the market closely and will update you as soon as something changes.
Suppliers, many of which are at risk of going under, can’t offer competitive fixed deals
While on the topic of rising bills, a big thank you to everyone for their top energy-saving tips after I publicly scolded my husband, Chris, last week.
Money Mail reader Molly Clark suggests leaving the oven open after cooking so not to waste the heat, using candles for softer lighting and ditching the dishwasher in favour of a good old-fashioned washing-up bowl.
Another reader, Robert, goes a step further and washes his dishes with cold water.
A small squirt from a 29p bottle of diluted white vinegar along with a dash of washing-up liquid on a little green fabric scouring cloth used in circular motions will ensure they are squeaky-clean, he assures me.
But I was most taken by Julie Priest’s suggestion of a fridge alarm that will go off when the door is left open.
Amazon has one with a ‘repeated siren’ mode — and if that doesn’t teach Chris to close it, I don’t know what will.
But at £21.99, I might stick to nagging for now.
Keep those tips coming!
Many see a monthly subscription, such as Netflix, as essential (pictured: Netflix’s Squid Game)
Need for Netflix
It’s fascinating to see how our spending priorities have changed since the pandemic.
Take the popular streaming service Netflix. Once a luxury, a monthly subscription is now considered essential, according to a report by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association published yesterday.
One pensioner commented that their partner’s quality of life would just not be the same without it.
Another man from Wales said that he had not realised how important dining out was for ’emotional well-being’.
But as the cost of living soars, experts fear people could cut back on pension saving. With many already failing to put aside enough for the lifestyle they want in retirement, this could prove disastrous.
So if you have spare cash leftover at the end of the month, consider using it to give your future self a better life.
It could be me…
Inspired by a colleague, I bought my first ever EuroMillions lottery ticket last Friday. It was a rollover with a juicy £174million jackpot, and I was feeling lucky.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t win. But what fun I had daydreaming about what I’d do with such a windfall.
And since no one scooped the prize money, I figured there was no harm in having one more go in last night’s record £184million draw. Who knows, I could be a multi-millionaire by the time you read this.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.
‘I lived through the darkness and learned how to move away’: The football manager looks back on the 10 turbulent years since his daughter’s murder
“I hope it is useful to people, that is what I really hope,” Mickey Harte says on the publication of his memoir Devotion, an account of what has been a turbulent and often heart-wrenching decade for the Ballygawley man and his family.
“I lived through the darkness and learned how to move away” are the stark words on the back of the book. It’s a coda for the shocking murder of Harte’s daughter Michaela McAreavey while on her honeymoon with John McAreavey in Mauritius in January 2011
That tragedy, while Ireland was still in a post-Christmas slumber, was a reminder that the country is a village: the outpouring of sympathy was national. There followed a protracted trial of two resort employees and their controversial acquittal, an ongoing quest for justice and, as chronicled here, the family’s attempts to fight their way through seasons of bewilderment.
A strong Catholic faith, which Harte has always openly espoused, runs through the narrative. His daughter had been an ardent supporter of the Tyrone senior football team since he became manager in 2003, the year they won the first of three senior All-Ireland titles in six years. Father and daughter were fast friends.
He stayed on as manager after the tragedy, the team winning two further Ulster titles and reaching the All-Ireland final of 2018. Harte coached the side through a serious cancer diagnosis, turning up for games when he should really have been in bed.
Harte’s 30-year involvement with Tyrone came to an end last November when he sat in a car in the dark with team captain Mattie Donnelly for 90 minutes during a county board meeting in Garvaghey, waiting for a text that never arrived.
He was always one to keep moving and was soon appointed Louth manager. He watched Tyrone win its fourth All-Ireland last September. “I’d a good seat in the Hogan Stand and enjoyed every minute of it.”
Harte now has more time to play golf and knocks down kilometres on a time-battered treadmill in the shed. Apart from an early morning daily visit to the local chapel, he doesn’t really know where the day will take him.
The room in which he is sitting for this interview, talking into a laptop screen, is filled with sunlight. More often than not, the house is teeming with grandchildren. It is, he says, a good time for his wife, Marian, and himself. And the publication of this book marks the end of a project that was intense and revelatory.
“It was an organic evolution of a conversation,” he says of the collaboration with the Kildare journalist Brendan Coffey. It began with a casual chat; they sparked, a sense of trust and friendship developed, and over the course of several years they talked about Harte’s life through the prism of the past decade.
The book is told in Harte’s words but also includes short, piercing first-person accounts of the days after Michaela’s death from her brothers and husband.
“It was enlightening for me, too, the way Brendan dealt with this and had these interviews with our sons and with John,” Harte says now.
“That, I suppose, told a tale for me that was very valuable because we had never sat down and had that individual in-depth conversation with each other. You felt you knew what was going on in everybody’s mind but you didn’t see it through their eyes.”
Although the subject matter of the book is harrowing in places, one of its achievements is to present a rounded memory of Michaela Harte, later Michaela McAreavey: kind, mischievous, a chatterbox, into glamour, a sister who could offer sound advice to her brothers and also drive them up the walls; a young woman who, in high-octane Celtic Tiger Ireland, was completely unfazed by the fact that her values and beliefs were not always in step with those of broader society.
“Aye. She was loyal to the faith she believed in and grew up in. And she held fast to the traditions and standards of the church as she saw it. She was that kind of person. And that made me very proud of her. I liked her single-mindedness. I liked her ability to say: the right thing is more important than the popular thing in her eyes.”
I learned a lot from Michaela’s life in the things she liked. She loved older people. She loved her granny and grandad
Marian and Mickey Harte had three boys and one girl. Although a broken finger as a child ended Michaela’s interest in playing Gaelic football, she began accompanying her father to team training when she was a kid and never lost the habit. It was their thing long before he became senior manager.
The Hartes raised their children in an orthodox Catholic tradition. It was and remains a central element of how they live. Throughout his new book, Harte remembers how his daughter practised her faith .
“Did I learn anything? Well, maybe not from her faith. I learned a lot from Michaela’s life in the things she liked. She loved older people. She loved her granny and grandad. She was attracted to older people – to stewards at gates at games, say, maybe because she could work her way past all of them with her charm and get to places she couldn’t otherwise get to.
“And she had an equal love for children. Young children would gravitate to her, and she would be all over them. So she had a love for both age groups. I noticed the connection with the grandparents, the sheer love she had for them, and learning and hearing from things of theirs back in the day. More so with Marian’s because my parents died when she was young.
“And I noticed the sheer love between a grandparent and grandchild. And she taught me that – I am that grandparent now.”
Her death naturally asked different questions of how each of the family relied upon and practised their faith. His son Mattie had begun to ask himself serious questions in the aftermath: it seemed as if he might be on the verge of quitting religion. Instead, he took a dive into the doctrine and experienced what is described as a profound spiritual crossing.
Harte speaks as openly and naturally about Catholicism as he does Gaelic football. But he smiles at the idea that he might judge how others do or don’t practice.
“It would be no business of mine to judge anybody else in what they do with their faith. I would see it as a faith handed on to me from previous generations who probably weren’t as questioning as today. But there is probably a lot to be said for the way they believed even if it wasn’t a searching belief, if you like. And I would think that because some people throw that out as archaic, they haven’t replaced it with much of substance. That’s an issue, I feel.
“And I never could see that if you are a Catholic and there are certain things the Catholic faith teaches, why would you be considered sort of rare because you do that?”
Because certain people within the church did certain things that weren’t right… does that destroy all the good work that went on? There has to be a sense of balance
He nods at the obvious response: that if the visit of Pope John Paul in 1979 was the high-water mark of mass-movement Catholicism, the litany of abuse scandals and the gradual erosion of influence has seen a big retreat.
“Is there not a slight sense of imbalance there?” he reasons. “That because certain people within the church did certain things that weren’t right and weren’t good… does that destroy all the good work that went on? There has to be a sense of balance.
“I think that far and away the people in religious life are very good people who have a serious impact on people’s lives. It is so easy to throw out the baby with the bathwater. To say these things went on – so is the get-out clause not living your faith because someone did it in a poor fashion? That does a great disservice to the great number of really good priests and religious who have been part of our lives.”
There has always been a radical aspect to Harte’s public profile. His first All-Ireland-winning Tyrone team was sensationally confrontational in its antic, chaotic style, which sent the sport itself in a different direction.
Feted as an innovative manager, Harte was a gifted footballer whose Tyrone career was sabotaged by an internal club row that opened a chasm within the community. A full decade of friendships frosted over, and the Ballygawley community was effectively locked out of official football in the 1980s. The only reason it was patched up was because the elders realised that the juvenile Peter Canavan was a once-in-a-century proposition – that it would be immoral not to have him playing for Tyrone.
Harte has never regretted a second of that standoff because, as he outlines, he believes he was doing the right thing on principle. It’s his first and only arbiter. He has broken from convention, such as his appearance at a rally for Seán Quinn in 2012. He is completely indifferent to the court of public opinion in expressing his beliefs, Catholic or otherwise.
His standoff with RTÉ, which has parallels with the club football row, is now a decade long, and Harte is adamant that he won’t speak or deal with the Irish state broadcaster again. Ever.
Until 2010, his relationship with RTÉ was cordial if unremarkable. In that year, he sent a private letter to the director general and board chairman to protest what he felt was a demotion in the games assigned to Brian Carthy, the Gaelic Games correspondent for RTÉ Radio.
Carthy was and remains a popular and highly-regarded figure on the GAA circuit, and other managers voiced the same concerns. Harte heard nothing back for over a week. Some kind of conciliation was then reached through Tyrone county board officials but, shortly after that, the contents of the letter appeared in a national newspaper. RTÉ denied that it was responsible for the leak. Harte cannot believe this is the case.
“That’s fair to say. From where it landed anyway, whether it was the individuals it was sent to, I’m not prepared to say that. But it was sent as a private and confidential correspondence. And someone got a good look at it.”
The point of no return occurred in the summer of 2011. An ill-devised sketch lampooned Harte for attending the Dalai Lama conference in Limerick with his son-in-law. The sketch closed with the playing of Pretty Little Girl from Omagh, which the family felt was grossly insensitive.
While he refused to communicate with RTÉ, he emphasises that he never stopped the Tyrone players from doing so. “They were supporting me, which I really respected. But I never stopped the players from talking.”
It appears that at an institutional level they were saying we have to put manners on this boy because otherwise he is going to cause us bother. That is how it appeared to me
His belief remains that the breakdown originated in the letter of support he sent, and he rejects the idea that having made his point, it might be easier to just let it go.
“Naw, there is a time to do that and a way to do that,” he says. “And when that time and that way passes, it isn’t there anymore. It appears that at an institutional level they were saying we have to put manners on this boy because otherwise he is going to cause us bother. That is how it appeared to me.”
These are the two sides of Harte. He is utterly rigid on points of principle yet completely adaptable in unexpected ways. Somehow, there is plenty of laughter in a book dealing with such weighty subjects.
He never visited Mauritius. Their son Mark volunteered to fly out in the nightmarish aftermath and attended the trial. But he says he would, in theory, like to ask the two men charged with his daughter’s death if it had been worth it, just to cover up a thieving ring. His hope would be that they would at least acknowledge that what happened in that room was not intentional.
“Because I think it would be better if that were the case. And of the two men implicated in this –albeit they were acquitted – of the two, I feel there were two different personalities and people. And I think one of them found himself in a place that he happened to be in and might not have wanted to be in. I am not so sure about the other one.
“So I think I might hear two different stories there. I think one of them would be capable more than the other of doing whatever he felt necessary to save his face or the vice ring that was going on in terms of the stealing that was there. So I just have a picture of two different people being there. That is my impression. One knew what he was doing and the other happened to be implicated by his presence.”
The passages where he recounts the six weeks John McAreavey spent living with the family after the murder are very pure and sad. They walked early in the morning, made simple breakfasts, and talked and talked. Harte asked his son-in-law if he was okay for that to be included.
“He was one of our family. He was special in Michaela’s life so he is always going to be special in our lives too. And he gave that sense of Michaela’s presence still being there. He was so important to her and he meant so much to her in life that it was good to have him around in those darkest days. I think it would have been a mutual feeling in that it made him feel he had some connection with Michaela. It was very difficult but thank God we are well beyond it now.”
That comes across. It’s clear the Hartes have an intricate and steadfast network of friendships within the Ballygawley and greater Tyrone community. Disappointed as Harte was with his closing hour as Tyrone manager, he holds no recriminations and looks back on the 30 years with pride. In the end, he was happy to be just another Tyrone fan last September.
“Yes, it would have been lovely to be there on the sideline. You can’t deny that. But the next best thing is to be there when Tyrone win it. I told the group of players before I left that I wanted to win an All-Ireland for them. Because we did soldier a long time and I think we built those players up over a number of years to get to that level so yes it would have been nice to cross the line with them again. But I am so glad that they got there.”
Now it is autumn and Mickey Harte has time to sit back. He has reached a stage where, he says towards the end, he is “mad about life, savouring every minute”. Louth training will resume in the new year. In the meantime comes the publication of this book and his hope that it might bring solace to other people.
“It is very emotional, obviously,” he says. “That is the big thing. It is not even the heavy parts, if you like. There are little times and phrases and sentences. Like when my son Michael wrote the letter to me . . . I mean, that was a big thing that I didn’t think would affect me the way it did. But it did. And other times you just read little lines and nuances and the in-depth treatment of that time and how things were. It is an emotional read.
“But I would balance that off with believing there can be some great value to others when they read this and that there can be a sense of hope from difficult and dark places. And to me that is a price worth paying. Going through the emotion again is a price worth paying if I can help someone else have a sense of hope in their life when that seems all nigh impossible.”
Devotion: A Memoir by Mickey Harte with Brendan Coffey is published by Harper Collins Ireland
The roots of the dried flower revival, one of this season’s biggest style movements, lie in the new love affair with floral patterns.
At this week’s Decorex, the London trade show that features the key trends for the year ahead, blooms and foliage adorned cushions and wallpapers, as the era of minimalism retreats further into history.
But there are other reasons why dried flowers — which were one of the smartest home accessories of the 1980s — have returned from obscurity, making the latest in a long series of comebacks.
On trend: Dried flower bouquets – which were one of the smartest home accessories of the 1980s – have returned from obscurity
The ancient Egyptians were the first to dry flowers, decorating tombs with sacred lotus blossoms. The drying and pressing of flowers was also a favourite Victorian pastime.
Today, amid growing concern for the planet, dried flowers are increasingly considered to be the eco-friendly choice.
Interiors expert and entrepreneur Alison Cork says: ‘Thanks to new techniques, dried flowers are more beautiful than ever before; they are no longer the second-class citizens in the floral hierarchy.
‘Also the zeitgeist is changing. Dried flowers are seen as more sustainable. People do not like the waste involved in fresh flowers — or how expensive they can be.’
Bouquets, particularly those with orchids or out-of-season roses, can harm the environment, either through the use of pesticides in their cultivation, or through their transportation. About 86 per cent of cut flowers are imported.
Anyone raising an eyebrow at the return of dried flowers will be relieved to learn that they are not accompanied by other 1980s’ accessories, such as floor-sweeping curtains and swagged blinds
Cost-consciousness is another major factor behind the rise of what people are calling ‘brown flowers’, although many displays are colourful, and contain twigs and leaves.
With a little maintenance, a £25 bunch of dried flowers will delight for years, while a fresh flower bouquet may be consigned to the bin only a few days after its delivery.
Anyone who is raising an eyebrow at the return of dried flowers on snobbish grounds will be relieved to learn that they are not accompanied by other 1980s’ accessories, such as floor-sweeping curtains and swagged blinds.
The interiors of the lavish homes in the shoulder-pad TV saga Dynasty were the influence for these pieces, which, for the moment, are not predicted to burst back into fashion… although never say never.
Pick of the bunches: John Lewis offers the Luxury Brights priced at £69.95
Instead, those people who always prefer an understated interior style will choose a dried flower arrangement as a nod to the vogue for florals.
If you prefer neutral shades, Phohm, a business based in Brighton, offers the £45 Ombre, a bunch of Pampas grass, palm leaves and reeds.
Beards & Daisies has the £32.99 Wild Honey, a mix of papaver, plume, protea and ruscus (beardsanddaisies.co.uk). The £50 Sinead from Bloom & Wild contains a blend of blues and autumnal hues.
John Lewis has a wide selection including the Ixia Meadow (£44.99), ideal for a pine table in a cottage kitchen; and the Luxury Brights (£69.95), whose pinks and purples would provide a bolt of colour in a pale bedroom.
If off-the-shelf bunches are not to your taste, making your own dried flower arrangements can provide an outlet for your creativity — and also a form of therapy. This is how it has always been regarded in Japan, where Oshibana, the pressing of flowers, is considered an art form.
Learning the finer points of this craft was part of the training of 16th-century Samurai warriors, who needed better powers of concentration, rather than ways to beautify their homes.
Jennifer Stuart-Smith of Blooming Green, a floristry business, based in Yalding, Kent, which grows all its own flowers using chemical-free methods, says that it is easy to dry your flowers in an airing cupboard or in a warm, dry place in your home.
She says that one of the best guides on the subject is Cut & Dry: The Modern Guide To Dried Flowers, From Growing To Styling, by Caroline Dunster.
Stuart-Smith adds: ‘I had always been a bit sniffy about dried flowers, considering them to be dusty and old-fashioned, but then I started to see how they were being used in interiors in hip East London homes and restaurants.
‘We were also getting requests for wedding bouquets with pampas grasses.
‘I realised this was a trend that we could not ignore — and that we could dry our own flowers and also reduce waste, which is one of the goals of our business. We now supply dried flowers to Planet Organic, the organic supermarket.’
Such is the interest in the DIY approach to dried flower decor that Blooming Green is running £180 one-day courses on the subject, which combine practical skills with mindfulness. The next will be held on November 7.
Besides busting stress, dried flowers also provide an excuse to show off vases which sit unused in the winter months when your garden is no longer an easy source of greenery.