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    Renegotiating House Offers After a Survey

    By The reallymoving Team Updated 28th May, 2024

    Reviewed by Em Smith

    A building survey can often find problems that may reveal a lot about the value of a property. But how do you decide if you want to change your initial offer after receiving yours, and how do you negotiate?

    Renegotiating House Offers After a Survey

    Written by property expert Kate Faulkner

    Having an independent survey is a wise move when spending so much money on a property.

    Whether it’s a new build, a flat, or an older house, an independent survey from a professionally trained Building Surveyor is essential. You never know what roof issues there are or what might be hiding in walls, under floors, or on the land your property sits.

    Deciding to renegotiate

    If you have had your offer, subject to survey, accepted and then your surveyor comes back with a series of problems, should you renegotiate or just accept that issues need to be sorted when you move in?

    Things to consider before you choose to renegotiate

    The answer to if you should negotiate the price depends on three things:
    1. How severe the problems found in the survey are
    2. Whether you can afford to fix the problems yourselves
    3. If you are still happy to go ahead with the purchase

    How severe the problems found in the survey are

    The severity of the problems found in the survey may affect whether you want to renegotiate the price.

    Did you already know about the problem?

    Some of the problems the surveyor picked up you may be aware of already. For example, the boiler may need replacing or it’s obvious there is a problem with the guttering not working properly. You will have already taken this into account when you made your offer and will have the money to fix them.

    Are the problems going to affect you long term?

    If some of the problems are going to require a lot of work and expense and you weren’t aware this was required, you might want to re-negotiate.

    For example, if the surveyor has identified damp, this can take thousands of pounds to fix. It may also mean you’ll be living in a property that you can’t decorate for 6-12 months after the work is completed, to allow the walls to dry out.

    Another issue that may make you re-think about the offer is if it needs a lot of work to the roof, which can cost thousands of pounds.

    Are the problems minor enough?

    On the other hand, it might not be worth the hassle or the risk of losing the property by re-negotiating if there are things that might be fixed anyway with changes you are planning to make to a property. For example, an extension or knocking walls down. Or the works might be minor, such as insulating the loft.

    Can you afford to fix the problems yourself?

    If you can’t afford to fix the problems yourself when you move in and the seller won’t re-negotiate, it might be worth speaking to the surveyor and asking them how long the property could ‘live without’ the works being carried out or if there is a cheaper interim measure you could do until you could save enough money to fix the issue. 

    This may partly depend on health and safety issues, so if it’s problems with heating or the electrics, this would be more of an issue than something like small cracks around the windows that have been there for some time, due to a lintel needing to be fitted. 

    Another option you could investigate is whether there are any jobs you could get done where you receive an interest free loan and can pay over time, rather than have to find the cash up front, with a ‘buy now, pay later’ deal.

    The problems are so bad, you aren’t sure if it’s still the right property for you

    If you just wanted to buy a property and move in and really hate carrying out renovations, then depending on the severity of the problems, you might not want to continue with the purchase.

    If the house needs re-wiring, a new damp proof course or is suffering from subsidence, this kind of work is likely to take months - or longer – to get diagnosed properly and fixed and it just may not be worth the hassle from your perspective.

    In this case, it might be that some of the work could be done by the seller, at their cost, between exchange and completion so it’s not something that impacts on you as much as it would if you had to organise the tradespeople and then live in the home when the work was being done.

    However, if it makes you too nervous and you really don’t want the hassle, it might not be worth re-negotiating a deal and it may be worth looking for a new place to move into with less problems.

    How to renegotiate

    It can be a bit daunting having had an offer accepted on the property of your dreams, only to find out that there are some problems. Now you still want to buy the property but can only do so if you can buy it at a lower price.

    Who do you speak to, to start the negotiation?

    When you have digested the surveyor’s report, give them a call, and discuss the pros and cons of continuing with the purchase.

    Ask your surveyor for advice

    Ask your surveyor for their advice. They might say it’s still worth buying the property, but you should negotiate £5,000, £10,000 or more off the property. They will hopefully have given you a reason why, for example it needs re-roofing and will need to take off the amount it would cost to do this.

    Once you have a good idea of why you need to secure the discount, the next port of call is the estate agent.

    Give them a call – or better still pop into see them if possible.

    Be honest

    The best way to re-negotiate is to be open and honest with the agent (and seller). Take the surveyors report with you and show them the problems that need fixing which you weren’t aware of.

    If you could even secure quotes for the work required, you can show that this is an expense you weren’t aware of and as a result you want to re-negotiate.

    Be clear you absolutely want to continue to purchase the property, but this unforeseen cost means you will need the money to be able to buy the property and carry out the repairs required.

    Usually, sellers are quite willing to renegotiate as they don’t want to lose your purchase either.

    What if they say ‘no’?

    This is a tricky one, but it comes down to how you feel about the property and your finances. Firstly, if you love the property and can still buy it, even with the extra costs, it may be worth carrying on with the purchase.

    On the other hand, if you would genuinely struggle, it might be worth speaking to your mortgage broker to see if you could borrow a little more or if there was a way to secure some extra finance.

    The alternative is to just say ‘OK’ and leave it with them – you never know they may come back and agree after they have had a day or so to think about it!

    Consider a counteroffer

    If you receive a counteroffer, you should be prepared to sit down and consider the offer. Meeting somewhere in the middle could be a way for you to still purchase the property of your dreams, but also be able to afford some of the repair costs.

    Whatever the problems highlighted by your surveyor are, it’s always worth talking to them about your worries and fears. They will be able to give their expert advice on the problems.

    You may be surprised how simple the issues would be to fix, even if it’s damp or subsidence. However, the surveyor might be quite concerned themselves that the work may even be more extensive than they were able to highlight in their report.

    The best advice is when you have digested the surveyor’s report, give them a call, and discuss the pros and cons of continuing with the purchase.

    Renegotiating house offers after survey FAQs

    What are the common red flags on a house survey?

    Some of the common problems found in a house survey are:

    What is the average price reduction after a survey?

    The amount you ask for off the price will depend on what problems are found in the survey. On average, it can be as much as 5%-10% of the original price. Talking to your surveyor can help you understand how much you should be reducing your offer by.

    Can you negotiate house price after your offer has been accepted?

    Even after your offer is accepted you can negotiate on the price if problems are found during a survey. At this point your offer is not legally binding. You are able to change your offer until the contracts are exchanged. 

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