Renegotiating the purchase price of a property following a survey

Reasons for renegotiating the purchase price of a property

Renegotiating the purchase price of a property is an obvious thing to consider if your house survey reveals unexpected defects, particularly if they are going to be costly to repair.  Most purchasers would make an offer “subject to survey”, making it clear that firstly, they plan to have a survey, and secondly, if the survey reveals defects which they were not aware of they may consider revising their offer.   Visit the following:  https://www.gov.uk/buy-sell-your-home/offers

Renegotiating the purchase price of a property may also be necessary if you are seeking a mortgage and the mortgage valuation is less than the previously agreed purchase price.

 

How to renegotiate the purchase price

Renegotiating the purchase price of a property would typically be done through the estate agent.

After receiving the survey report, the buyer should obtain cost estimates from contractors for any recommended works prior to commitment to purchase.  The estimates can be used as a basis for negotiation.

It is important to remember that the seller is under no obligation to reduce the price, even if works are required.  Most sellers would have a minimum price for which they are prepared to sell their property.  This may be based on how much they need to repay a mortgage or how much they need to be able to buy their next home.  However, some purchasers may be in a position to agree a reduced price in order to achieve a sale.  The selling agent may know the vendor’s position and should be able to advise the buyer whether there is any room for negotiation.

Sometimes the selling agent or vendor will ask to see a copy of the survey report.  The survey report has been prepared for the buyer, and the buyer is under no obligation to provide this to anyone.  However, in some cases it may be helpful to show extracts of the report, along with quotations for the works, but this is entirely the buyer’s choice.

If the reason for renegotiating the purchase price is because the mortgage valuation is lower than the previously agreed purchase price then the purchaser may not be able to proceed with the purchase unless the price is lowered or the buyer has additional funds to put towards the purchase.

The success of negotiations will depend on a number of factors including the seller’s financial position, whether the seller needs to sell the property and whether there are any other potential purchasers on the scene who are in a position to proceed and are prepared to pay a higher price.

Remember that the seller does not have to reduce the price and may even decide to not sell the property if it does achieve  a particular selling price.  The success of any negotiation depends not only on the cost of any works but also on the individual circumstances of both the buyer and seller.

 

buying and selling a house

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Three things which might make your house more difficult to sell

There are some steps which can be taken to avoid your property being difficult to sell and avoid delays once you have found a buyer.

Alterations without approvals

Many homeowners realise that they may need Local Authority approvals for major works such as extensions, structural alterations, etc, but some works are controlled under Building Regulations which can easily be overlooked, including:

  1. Installation of a wood burner.
  2. Replacement of windows (FENSA certificate required).
  3. Works to drainage installations (above and below ground).

If you plan to extend your property or carry out any works which require Building Control approval make sure that the relevant aspects of the work are undertaken to meet the requirements of Building Regulations.  Ensure that you keep all documentation for any works you have carried out to reduce the risk of your home being difficult to sell.  Pass a copy of all documents to your solicitor so that copies can be forwarded to your buyer’s solicitor when requested.

If works are carried out without the relevant approvals, this may cause a delay or a problem if your buyer is taking out a mortgage to buy the property.  Also, a lack of approval may lead to your buyer questioning the quality of work and in some cases may put them off proceeding with the purchase,  and may result in your house being more difficult to sell.

Alterations which are out of character

When carrying out any works it is a good idea to do work which is in keeping with the age and style of the building.

  1. Replacement windows should match the style of the original windows as closely as possible.
  2. An older house which originally had slates or clay tiles is likely to be ruined if modern concrete tiles are used as a replacement.

For older properties, it is worth spending time sourcing suitable materials, eg, good quality used slates or roofing tiles from a reputable stockist or a reclamation yard.

Poor presentation

Perhaps the most obvious is poor presentation.  A property which has been well maintained is generally more attractive to most buyers.  While your property does not have to be professionally “staged” before putting it on the market, there are a number of things you can easily do yourself to make your home more attractive to a prospective buyer.

  1. Clear out any unwanted items.
  2. Tidy up.  Make sure everything has a home.  A tidier home is more attractive and can make rooms look larger.
  3. Spring clean thoroughly.  Don’t forget windows, mirrors, taps, etc.
  4. Tidy the garden.  Make sure it doesn’t look as though hours of work are needed as soon as someone moves in.
  5. Attend to any small DIY matters such as dripping taps.  Make your home look as though it has been looked after rather than neglected.

buying and selling a house

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What should I do after having a survey?

What should I do after having a survey?

There is plenty of information and advice about having a survey before buying a property, but not so much advice about what to do after having a survey.  Remember that the purpose of a house survey is to identify any defects.  Even if a property is in a good order it would be unusual for no defects to be noted.  Any minor items can be dealt with once you have purchased the property.  However, if a survey report reveals that extensive works and/or investigations are needed then some purchasers may be unclear about the best way forward.

Firstly, you should forward a copy of the report to your solicitor as there may be items which your solicitor may need to check such as:

  • Ownership and responsibility of boundaries.
  • Ownership and responsibility of drains.
  • Ownership and responsibility of any shared drives/access ways.

Typically, a purchaser should obtain quotes from builders before commitment to purchase (normally exchange of contracts).  By doing this, the purchaser will be able to decide whether or not to proceed with the purchase in full knowledge of the level of expenditure required.

In some cases, a vendor might offer to arrange for minor repairs to be carried out before the sale of the property.  However, for most works, if you plan to proceed with the purchase it is better to wait and have the work carried out after completion of the sale.  By choosing your own contractor you will be in control of the quality of work carried out.  However, you should still obtain quotation/s before exchange of contracts.

Sometimes further investigations will be required, eg, if a defect is suspected but cannot be confirmed within the scope of the survey.  Opening up may  be required (with the vendor’s consent) or a specialist (such as a drainage contractor, wall tie contractor, etc,) may need to attend.

If the survey report recommends further investigations which are disruptive the vendor might not be willing to have these undertaken.  For example, if ground floors need to be taken up to inspect floor timbers to check for dampness and/or rot then this may involve moving large amounts of furniture and may damage carpets.  If this is the case, it is better for a buyer to budget for the worst case scenario, such as removal of ground floors, replacement with a solid concrete floor, etc.  The investigations can then be carried out after the sale has completed.  If the works required are found to be less extensive then a saving will be made.

If the cost of repairs is found to be significant, you may choose to speak to the selling agent to check whether the vendor may renegotiate the sale price.  If the vendor is keen to sell the property and if their financial position allows them to reduce the price, either in part or in whole, then the estate agent will negotiate to agree on a selling price.  However, the vendor is under no obligation to reduce the price.  In some situations a vendor may not be in a position to reduce the price, particularly if the vendor has a high mortgage or needs to sell at or close to the asking price to be able to buy their next house.

Above all, after having a survey, read the report carefully and read it more than once.  Highlight any important parts, obtain prices for any works and carry out any further investigations (if possible) before exchange of contracts.

 

buying and selling a house

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Buying a house in Spring: what to look for

Spring usually sees a surge in properties on the market.  This is a time when gardens will be at their most attractive with an array of flowers and new vegetation in contrast to the preceding months.  Also, many families who are relocating hope to complete their move in time for their children to start their new schools in September.  When buying a house in Spring don’t get carried away.  Its important to stop and think about what sort of home your proposed purchase will make at other times of the year.

 

Rainwater gutters and downpipes

If there hasn’t been very much rain for some time it might not be obvious whether the rainwater gutters, downpipes, gullies and hoppers are functioning.  When buying a house in Spring, it is a good idea to check joints of gutters and downpipes for signs of leakage such as staining and make sure rainwater hoppers are not blocked.  Also, check that gutters are adequately supported with brackets at regular intervals and check that all gutters have stop ends.  Examine walls carefully for any signs that rainwater goods have been leaking or overflowing.

 

Drives and paving

Drives and paved areas may look fine during a dry spell but it is important to look for clues to determine whether they are adequate during wet weather.

Check for signs of ponding to low areas such as stained areas or silt.  Puddles on the drive or patio are not ideal and can be a hazard when they freeze in cold weather.  Areas of ponding can also cause the surface to deteriorate more quickly, particularly after sub zero temperatures.

If the drive (and any other hardstanding areas) are steeply sloping then look to see where rainwater will run.  If paved areas slope towards the building then there may be a torrent of water during heavy rainfall.  Rainwater should ideally fall towards gullies or drainage channels and be discharged into surface water drains or to a soakaway.

 

Gardens

When buying a house in Spring, remember to check there are sufficient paths to access important areas of the garden such as the garage, sheds, bin store and the washing line.  Some external areas may be acceptable during dry weather but may turn to mud in wet weather.  You may not mind walking across the lawn to a shed or bin store in the spring or summer when the ground is dry, but the same route could quickly become a quagmire during wet weather.

 

Natural light

On a bright day in spring or summer rooms can look much brighter than on a dull day in the autumn or winter.  When buying a house in Spring, consider the size, location and orientation of windows to assess how much natural light the same rooms are likely to have during the winter months.  If certain rooms are likely to need lamps during the day it is better to know before you decide to buy the house.

See also instructing a surveyor when buying a house.

 

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Questions to ask when buying a house

What questions should I ask the vendor when buying a house?

When you first view a property you may ask the vendor questions such as why they are moving, etc, as part of deciding whether this is the right house for you.  As the sale progresses it is inevitable that other questions will crop up but there are some things you may not think about until moving day arrives.  While some of the below may be obvious, others may be overlooked while trying to juggle moving house with work, family, and other aspects of your day to day life.

Before buying a house, remember to ask the vendor:

  1. Where the stop cock is.
  2. How to operate the central heating.
  3. Where all the manhole/inspection covers for the drains are located.
  4. How many keys there are for the doors, including the garage. Also, check there are keys for any window locks.
  5. Which gas and electricity companies currently supply the property.
  6. Which companies provide the landline and broadband.
  7. Which day the refuse and recycling boxes are collected.
  8. When any chimneys were last swept.
  9. Which company currently provides buildings insurance. This is particularly important if the building is a high risk, eg, has flooded previously or is in a high flood risk area.
  10. When any septic tank was last emptied and which company usually carries this out (for private drainage installations).

 

What documents should I obtain from the vendor when buying a house?

While some of these documents would typically be obtained by your solicitor, make sure you obtain copies of any:

  1. Service documents for the central heating.
  2. Service documents for any other gas appliances, eg, fires, cooker.
  3. Receipts/documentation for any recent works.
  4. Planning Approval and Building Control approval documents for any extensions to the property.
  5. Building Control documents for any recent works requiring Building Control approval such as any structural alterations, works to drainage installations, etc.
  6. FENSA certificates for any windows and/or doors replaced since April 2002.
  7. Documentation for any alterations to, or upgrading of, the electrical installation.
  8. Valid warranties for any other works, eg damp proofing, timber treatment.

Getting answers to the above at the right times should go some way towards a smooth move and help you settle into your new home as easily as possible.

See also Checking broadband speed and mobile phone coverage.

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Choosing an Estate Agent – sole agency, multi-agency, local agent or internet agent

How do you go about choosing an estate agent to sell your property?
First, check which agents have a strong local presence.  Look out for “For Sale” and, ideally “Sold” boards in your area before choosing an estate agent.  Also, check which ones advertise regularly in the local press.  Ask any friends and neighbours who have moved recently for feedback on the estate agents they used.

Make a shortlist of 3 to 4 estate agents and ask them to view your property to suggest an asking price and indicate a likely selling price.  Ask them for details of similar properties they have sold recently, including the actual selling prices and the length of time between putting on the market and completing.  There is little point in advertising your home for an unrealistically high price if there is little chance of a sale at that price.  Ask whether they currently have any similar properties for sale and whether they are attracting interest.  This will enable you to judge the level of demand.

Do your homework.  You can check the sold prices for similar properties in your area on www.nethouseprices.com

Check their fees.  What percentage of the sale price do they charge?  Are there any additional fees, eg, for advertising?

Decide between “Sole Agency” and “Multi Agency” and check the contract details carefully before choosing an estate agent.  Sometimes a fee may be charged even if you sell your property privately or through another agent.

Ask how they propose to advertise your property.  An estate agent will produce sales particulars to advertise your property.  In addition to paper copies they will normally make use of online resources, such as Rightmove, as many potential purchasers now do their searching online.

Obtain copies of the contracts before deciding which agent to instruct and read the contract carefully.  Find out how long you will be tied to them before you are able to change to another agent or take your property off the market in the event your circumstances change.
 

 

 

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