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A brief look at surveys - What happens if the survey highlights issues?

Getting a survey done on a property you are thinking of buying can save you time, stress and in most cases — most importantly money in the long term. Everybody dreams of getting a fully clean survey but this very rarely happens. So what are the options?

Getting a survey done on a property can save you time, stress and in most cases — most importantly money in the long term. 

Everybody dreams of getting a fully clean survey but this very rarely happens. It’s the surveyor job to bring to your attention even the smallest detail.The wait between having the survey done and getting the report back can be very nerve-wracking, but these days most companies will give you a verbal overview within 24 hours of the survey being done. When you get your survey back from your surveyor DON’T PANIC. Read it a couple of times to ensure you have an overall understanding of the total report and call the surveyor to clarify any items you are unsure on.

Does a Bad survey mean an end to your purchase?

NO – Buyers often get cold feet when they see issues and problems documented but a bad survey doesn’t have to mean the end of the purchase. In most cases the survey will list the problems / issues in order of severity meaning all the bad news hits you first.

The surveyor’s role is only to document items that require attention and to offer basic advice on repairs / ongoing maintenance required. The final decision on whether to proceed with the purchase or not is totally yours.
Common Findings (In no particular order):- Timber Rot (Dry or Wet), Woodworm, Damp, Wiring / Electrical, Structural movement, Asbestos, Drainage, Insulation, Roofing and a more recent one Japanese Knotweed.

What happens next?

Basically you have three options open to you:-
1)    Withdraw your offer and walk away
2)    Proceed at the agreed price and accept the problems
3)    Try and renegotiate your offer

I feel the first two are self-explanatory so am only going to look at option 3.

Before you start the re-negotiation you need to know the amounts, timeframes and impact involved.
Ask the surveyor to go through the report with you. What at first look might seem to be a show stopper might with clarification need a rethink. The surveyor might walk around the property with you to identify the findings and the implications of each. In some cases the surveyor has identified issues which need further investigation and you will need to consult a specialist tradesmen.

Get quotes. Use independent firms who specialise in that type of work.

Ask the Estate Agent for their advice (remember they work for the seller). Sometimes items have been mentioned in the particulars and have been factored into the asking price or were considered when the offer price was reduced / accepted. Some items can be seen when doing the viewings, new thatch required etc. and you would expect them in the report.

Ask your Conveyancer / Solicitor – they might advise on the impact of these issues going forward.

Consult the seller to obtain more information. Make them aware you are still interested in their property but allow them the opportunity to offer to fix or pay towards the costs.

At this point take a break and review all the information you have gathered. You might want to reconsider option 1 or 2.

I still want to continue with the purchase – What next?

As long as you have not exchanged contracts then you still have the opportunity to reduce the price you want to offer. Go back to the selling agent and discuss – there is no guarantee that this new offer will be accepted. The vendor is under no obligation to pay for any of the costs or accept a reduced offer.

At this point there are no hard and fast rules and it’s totally up the three parties involved – yourself, the seller and the estate agent acting as a negotiator.
Option 1 and 2 still exist at this point but option 3 is now “I’m happy with the new arrangement and let’s get this show on the road”

Look out for the next instalments:
What is the impact for the seller?
Common problems found in a survey in more depth.
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