Buying a house is arguably the biggest financial decision of your life. So, you’ll want to pay a fair price and no more than you have to. Building surveys can reveal issues with a property that may be expensive to fix.
It’s important to take the results of a survey seriously and use them to inform the price that you are willing to pay.
If your survey reveals problems with the property, you’re looking to buy then you’ll want to know your options when it comes to negotiating the sale price.
In this article, we explore the opportunities and considerations for renegotiating your offer following a survey.
Is it possible to renegotiate your offer after a survey?;
Top tips and tricks to renegotiate a house price following a survey;
Your options if a seller doesn’t want to renegotiate.
Can you renegotiate an offer after a survey?
Yes, you can renegotiate an offer you’ve put in for a house at any time before signing the contract.
Whether you are able to renegotiate your offer depends on the willingness of the seller. If your survey uncovers genuine problems with the property, in most cases, the seller should be willing to negotiate, if they weren’t already aware of the problems.
A study by Which? consumer group found that 67% of buyers successfully renegotiate their offer or ask the seller to carry out repairs to the problems found by a survey.
When might it be a good idea to renegotiate?
Many buyers renegotiate after negative survey findings. A survey is essential to discover problems with the home that have previously gone unnoticed by the owner or estate agent. Yet, close to 100,000 buyers bought homes without a survey in the UK in 2019/2020.
Common issues detected by a survey include:
Just imagine buying your dream home without a survey and finding subsidence issues, one of the most common, costly and dangerous findings a survey can expose.
Fixing subsidence issues can cost as much as tens of thousands of pounds. If you fail to uncover these issues before buying your home, and you don’t have insurance, you could be footing a really costly bill.
These costs might prevent you from planning key home value-boosting improvements, or restrict your future investment plans. Subsidence issues can also take months to fix, so could prevent you from moving in when you’d planned or set you back money if you need to find somewhere to live temporarily.
If you do find subsidence, you may need a RICS Home Survey Level 3, as this gives the highest level of checks.
Like subsidence, damp is another issue commonly uncovered by house surveys. Damp can cost thousands to fix, with an expert tradesman charging up to £200 per day. It’s not only a money issue, but damp can also prevent you redecorating for as long as a year to enable the walls to fully dry out.
You may also want to renegotiate if you find problems with the property’s roof. Anything wrong with a roof can be costly to repair and take a very long time.
Quick Move Now research found that 25% of property sales collapsed in the second quarter of 2019 because of the buyer withdrawing after finding issues from their property survey.
How to negotiate a house price after survey
Negotiating a house price after a survey all depends on the context of the individual situation. An important factor to consider is the severity of the problems the survey has revealed.
Some of the survey findings may already have been noted by you and your team. Small issues like unconnected broadband services are easy enough to fix, in most instances, and you will have budgeted this into your original offer.
If you have found more serious issues that will be more costly to address, you will need to think about making a new offer and how best to negotiate this with the seller.
Step 1 - Read the surveyor's report
Your first move should be to read your surveyor’s report in detail and then have a chat with them to ask any questions and ensure you understand the implications of buying the property. Putting in a new offer has pros and cons, so you’ll you want to weigh these up carefully to understand if the home you’ve been dreaming of is still right for you.
Step 2 - Communicate & gain quotes for the work
Most surveyors will give you their opinion on whether the property still meets your financial requirements. They will tell you which issues needs addressing and how much this might potentially cost.
You should and can shop around. Do your own research to find the right tradespeople for you and gain a range of quotes for the work that needs doing.
If you’re choosing a surveyor, ask them what their approach is after they carry out their survey. Do they offer advice on renegotiation? And is the advice tailored to your situation?
Step 3 - Speak with your estate agent
When you know why you need to renegotiate, your next step is to give your estate agent a call. Be honest with your reasons for wanting to renegotiate.
Don’t forget to clarify that you are still determined to buy the property, but that you can’t afford unforeseen costs. You may have to compromise on the costs, as sellers may not want to cover them all - just be sure to indicate your limit.
An understanding seller will appreciate your honesty and organisation and with luck be willing to renegotiate. You can help them see the bigger picture by including your surveyor’s report and your solicitor’s summary alongside any quotes you’ve compiled for the necessary work.
In other cases, the seller may take on the work themselves; they might think they have a good tradesperson who can fix the issues and ask you to match your original offer.
What can you do if a seller won’t renegotiate an offer after a survey?
There’s every chance a seller will say no when you ask if they will come to the negotiation table.
This isn’t the end of the road - they might have a rethink in the days after you’ve made your new offer. This is likely if your offer is still better than competing offers, or the seller sees you as someone that will take care of their old home.
If you’ve put in a new offer which has been turned down, you could go back to your original offer if you feel you can afford the costs of any work that needs doing. Your other option is to see if the seller is willing to get the work done themselves and accept the original offer to get the deal over the line.
If you decide to walk away, you will need to discuss this with your solicitor. You will lose any money you have spent on conveyancing searches, enquiries and reports. If you haven’t signed a contract, you’re well within your rights to walk away.
However, if your offer was previously accepted and you’ve signed a contract, you could face significant costs including your deposit being kept by the seller.
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