If you’ve had your offer accepted on the purchase of your next home, it’s tempting to think it’s all plain sailing from here. Let the estate agent hand over to the conveyancers to do the legal bit, get the mortgage approved and sign on the dotted line, yes? Actually, no – at least, not yet.
The property transaction won’t become legally binding until contracts are exchanged, and before that happens, we urge you to commission an independent home survey. With one of our experienced building surveyors investigating the condition of the property and delivering their findings in a detailed report to you, you can make key decisions on whether and how to proceed with the purchase.
Bad survey results
Speaking from many years’ experience in the property surveying business, it is by no means unusual for a survey to flag up problems with the building that the buyer is unaware of. From structural issues such as subsidence, damp, timber and roof defects to invasive garden species including the dreaded Japanese knotweed, a bad survey result can certainly take the shine off your new home.
If you decide to go ahead with the purchase in full knowledge of the facts, you may want to reconsider the price in light of the survey findings – and you are absolutely within your rights to do so. Your offer to purchase is ‘subject to contract’, which includes the results of any survey that is undertaken. If defects in the construction are identified, or our surveyors have highlighted that repairs are needed, then these will clearly affect the property value.
How will the vendor and their agent react?
Estate agents are a hardy sort; they’ve probably seen every conceivable building problem under the sun and are unlikely to be fazed by your request to renegotiate the price on account of a ‘bad’ survey result.
What’s more, the agent won’t have been aware of issues with the property when they valued it for sale, so when new information comes to light that has a bearing on the value, asking for a discount is not an unreasonable request.
The vendor and their estate agent should certainly not dismiss your concerns. After all, you could pull out of the transaction at any point before contracts are exchanged – do they really want to risk losing you as a buyer? And if the property does go back on the market, other buyers are bound to find the same defects.
How to renegotiate a previously accepted offer
If you are serious about asking for a discount, don’t just tell the estate agent over the phone and ask them to pass the message on to the vendor. Instead, take the formal route and put your request in writing, explaining that you are putting forward a new offer as a result of the findings provided by an independent RICS Chartered Surveyor.
It is worth emphasising in your letter that you are still very much committed to the purchase, but that you are not prepared to pay the full agreed price when serious defects were found and repairs are clearly needed. You can also add a polite note to say that other buyers would face the same problem.
Hopefully, the vendor will realise how inconvenient, time consuming and costly it would be to have to find a new buyer, and be motivated to accommodate your request.
What your letter should contain
Your best approach to successfully renegotiate the purchase price with the seller is to construct your arguments on evidence-based facts and deliver these politely but clearly.
- List all the serious defects highlighted in the property survey along with their associated costs of repair, such as are included in our Level 3 RICS Building Survey.
- By way of evidence, it’s worth providing a copy of the specific pages of the survey report that relate to the repairs. There’s no need to supply a copy of the whole survey to the estate agent or the vendor.
- Total the costs and decide on what you would consider a reasonable discount off the original accepted offer price. You may decide to claim for the entire cost of repairs, or come to a cost sharing agreement with the vendor.
- In order to strengthen your proposal and renegotiation chances still further, include the name of any contractors who have given quotes.
In receipt of your fully considered proposal, the seller will now need to consider their options and get back to you within a few days, so as not to risk derailing their sale. All you can do now is to keep your fingers crossed, and remain flexible in reaching a mutually agreement outcome to your negotiations, so that your home purchase can stay on track.
At Able Surveyors, we have 25+ years’ experience providing expert advice and guidance to prospective home buyers to help them make the right decision, and we can assist you too. Contact us to discuss your specific requirements and let us advise on the best choice of RICS home survey – Condition Report, HomeBuyer Report or Building Survey. We look forward to hearing from you.