If you have ever bought a house, you will know that there are a number of steps you have to take before that next dream property can become a reality. Even once an offer has been accepted, many buyers will want to perform a professional property survey, which can then lead to further negotiations and even a significant price reduction.
A property survey, or house survey, should be conducted by an accredited expert who can alert you to any defects or underlying issues that the house has. Then, based on this, you are free to negotiate an adjusted price with the seller, though the seller is also free to walk away from the negotiations if they want.
The process of negotiation after a survey is a delicate one as it can result in the deal falling through, which isn’t ideal for either party. So it is important that you follow some standard procedures as well as approach the talks with the right attitude and the right amount of preparation.
We are going to take you through this process of negotiation as we share our tips for negotiating a house price after a survey.
What are the best tips for negotiating a house price after a survey?
If after a property survey you want to offer a lower price than the asking price, you should be as open and as honest as possible with the seller about your findings and what they mean. You should also be aware that you may lose the house sale if you go too far below the current market value or their asking price, so weigh up whether the savings you would make are worth potentially losing the deal.
You should not exchange contracts until everything has been agreed upon, otherwise, you may lose your deposit if you pull out. You should also ensure that any work the seller has agreed to do before you move in is included in the contract so that they are legally obliged to do it.
So let’s first jump in and find out what exactly house surveys are and what the different types of survey offer.
What is a house survey?
A house survey is an inspection of a property’s condition carried out by an expert. The expert then compiles a report and relays any of the problems they identified to the prospective buyer who has paid for the inspection.
The survey will usually take place once the initial offer from the prospective buyer has been accepted by the house seller.
Before you pay for a surveyor, you should ensure that they are accredited. There are a handful of surveyance accreditors, but the two main ones are the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA).
Surveys carried out by unaccredited surveyors may be unreliable and offer no accountability.
What types of house surveys are there?
There are four types of house survey you can get. The type you opt for will depend on the age and condition of the property in question.
A condition report is the most basic house survey. It offers a description of the general condition of the property and will outline any risks or problems that might require immediate attention. A condition report will not offer any advice on how to deal with the property’s issues.
A condition report is suitable for most regular properties and should start at around £300.
Home buyer report
The next level up is a home buyer report, which helps to identify major structural problems as well as any other defects to the interior or exterior of the property.
This is the most popular type of house survey and is suitable for properties in reasonable condition. Home buyer reports should start at around £350.
This is the newest type of survey and is specifically for new builds. A snagging survey will highlight issues that need to be rectified by builders before the purchase is complete. Snagging surveys start at around £350.
Full structural survey
This is the most in-depth form of house survey and is the best choice if you are buying an older property or one that is in particularly poor condition.
A full structural survey – sometimes known as a “building survey” – will list all the defects the surveyor finds and will offer detailed advice on the repairs that are needed. It will also include any potential hidden defects that may become a problem in the future.
These surveys cost upwards of £500 and can be significantly more depending on the size of the property.
Can you renegotiate the house price after a survey?
Yes and that is exactly what many people do. There can be many issues and defects with a property that goes unnoticed, even by the homeowner or their estate agent. Once these issues have been identified, it is perfectly reasonable to renegotiate the offer you have made on the property.
What to do once the survey is complete
Once the survey is complete, you should send a copy of it to your mortgage lender and also to the seller. Your mortgage lender will want to see that the mortgage they have offered is worth it once all the extra repair costs are taken into account.
Although you are not obliged to send a copy of the report to the seller, it is a good idea to be open and honest from the start so if you do change the offer price they are aware of why.
If there are major repairs that need doing you might also consider seeking professional advice from tradespeople to get a second opinion on how much the work would cost. You can then adjust the property price you offer based on both the surveyor’s estimations and the builder’s or other experts.
How to negotiate once the survey is complete
Once the survey is complete and you have been handed the report by the surveyor, your next steps are crucial to both ensuring that you get the property and that you get it for a reasonable price.
So let’s now take a look at some of the best tips for negotiating the price after the survey is complete.
Respond quickly and honestly to the seller
Once you have received your report, you should be quick to let the seller know what it details and the costs that it outlines. If you can, you should also share the report with them so they can see it for themselves and know that you are negotiating from a position of good faith.
The seller is likely to be reluctant to find a new buyer as it will take more time and cost more money. So as long as your negotiation stance is honest, reasonable, and backed up by expert opinion, they should be open to the idea of reducing the price.
Consider the seller’s options
If there was significant interest in the property when it was on the market or the property is located in a desirable area, then it is a seller’s market. This means that the seller has plenty of options and the buyer has less negotiating leverage.
If, on the other hand, the seller is desperate to leave the property and it didn’t attract much interest, then it is a buyer’s market.
In both cases, consider the position of both yourself and the seller before you enter negotiations, as the balance of power could either lead to the seller dropping out of the deal or to them significantly reducing the price of the property.
Define your limits and targets
Before you enter the negotiations, make sure you set yourself an upper limit of what you are willing to spend and a target price you are aiming to buy for.
If after negotiating for a while, you find yourself unable to get the seller below your upper limit, it may be time to pull out.
On the other hand, if after negotiating for a while you find yourself below your limit but not at your target price, it may be a good time to settle as you don’t want the seller to be pushed too far and for the deal to collapses.
Remember you could lose the property
If you do decide to change your offer based on the survey, you have to remember that means the seller could pull out of the deal.
The seller will have their own minimum when it comes to price. They will likely need the money from the sale to buy their next home, so the negotiation is going to take place between the original offer you made and the lowest offer they will accept. If the property attracted a lot of interest then the seller will not be short of alternative options, even if they will require more work.
You will need to weigh up the costs that the survey has outlined, with the potential frustration of losing the deal. Is saving a few thousand pounds worth losing the property you are looking at? Maybe it is, but also, maybe it isn’t. Only you can decide, so use your judgment wisely.
Gazundering is not illegal, but it is frowned upon and will put many sellers off.
Gazundering involves lowering the agreed price just before the contracts have been. Although some sellers will then pull out, many will go through with the sale for the sake of ease.
However, this is an unscrupulous method of saving money that is not recommended by us.
Be realistic about the issues
When you pay for a house survey, the surveyor will point out every issue and every potential issue they notice. You are unlikely to see a significant reduction in the value of the property for minor repairs or aesthetic disagreements.
So consider all of the issues you could easily fix yourself and will not need to pay for. That way you can avoid taking a chunk off the price and scaring the seller into pulling out of the deal.
Do your research
There are certain issues that a surveyor can point out, but cannot know the full extent of. Damp, for example, may require an additional damp survey. You may also want to get a second opinion from builders, painters, or other tradespeople to back up any additional costs that are outlined in the survey report.
Don’t negotiate after you have exchanged contracts
Once you have exchanged contracts you are legally obliged to pay the price that you agreed upon with the seller. If you try to negotiate at this point and the seller walks away, you will lose your deposit and be liable to other penalties as well.
Include any agreements in your contract
If you agree with the seller that they will complete any building or remedial work to the property before you move in, then you must ensure that this is included in the contract. Be specific about everything you agreed upon because if it isn’t in the contract, they are not legally obliged to do it.
Negotiating the price of a property after a survey is a delicate task that should be approached with care and consideration. On the one hand, you don’t want to end up paying way above the value of a house that needs a lot of work to be maintained or repaired. On the other, you don’t want to put off a seller by negotiating too low as they can still pull out at this stage.
Make sure that you are aware of the position of both yourself and the seller in the market – is it a buyer’s market or a seller’s? And in every case, approach the negotiations with honesty and transparency to guarantee a good faith barter.