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What to Do If a House Survey Is Bad?

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It can be a shocking experience when your chartered surveyor reveals serious problems with your new home during the survey.

But don’t panic. Property Saviour is here to help you explore your options, whether you are a seller or a buyer.

Whether you’ve had a red condition rating with your Homebuyers Survey or some underlying issues from your building survey, this guide will take you through the necessary steps to take if you’ve received bad survey results.

Table of Contents

Why do I need a survey when buying a home?

The goal of a survey is to provide an impartial assessment of a property’s condition.

It’s important to understand the different types of surveys offered by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Currently, there are three levels of home-buyer surveys available: Level 1 (the most basic), Level 2 (the most popular) and Level 3 (the most comprehensive).

Which is best for you depends on the property you’re buying and your attitude towards risk.

What does a ‘bad survey’ look like?

When you receive your survey, you will likely be keen to learn what it contains. Although you may wish for the report to include as few issues as possible, it is common for surveys to uncover some form of problem.

Usually, the survey will list ‘defects’ or ‘issues’ – typically in order of their level of severity. With a Level 2 RICS survey, a traffic-light system is utilised to flag any flaws:

  • Red indicates that urgent or serious repairs are necessary,
  • Orange implies that investigations should be conducted,
  • Green suggests that the issues can be dealt with under normal routine maintenance.

For a Level 3 structural survey, the report will provide more detailed information about the defects and offer advice on the steps to take next.

What to Do After Bad House Survey Results
For a Level 3 structural survey, the report will provide more detailed information about the defects and offer advice on the steps to take next.

What are the most common house survey issues?

A survey will highlight any issues or defects that may impact the property’s value. These could include:

  1. Damp issues such as leaky roofs, rising damp or inadequate ventilation
  2. Electricals without certification or faulty wiring
  3. Aging heating systems or there is no boiler
  4. Roofs in need of repair
  5. No smoke or carbon monoxide detectors
  6. Poor drainage
  7. Extensions or modifications lacking Building Regulations approval

Certain issues may be more serious than others. For instance:

  • Japanese knotweed – this aggressive plant can spread through underground roots, causing extensive damage. This can make a property un-mortgageable, so if you’re keen on a property with knotweed, check if the current owners have a treatment plan in place.
  • Subsidence – this happens when the ground underneath the property shifts, compromising its stability and causing cracking. Underpinning can be used to fix it, but insurance cover can be hard to come by.
  • Dry rot – a type of fungus that weakens timber and can spread. You’ll need to assess the extent of the problem with your surveyor and see if it can be treated or if the timber needs replacing.
  • Woodworm – beetle larvae that burrow into timber, causing structural damage. Look out for small, round holes in the wood. Treatment may be possible, but timber may need to be replaced.
  • Damp – most visible on the ceiling, but check elsewhere. Many forms can be treated, but costs can be high.

Once you’ve received your survey report, you may want to call your surveyor to go through the findings. They should be able to address any questions you have about the report at no extra cost. However, they won’t advise whether you should proceed with the purchase or not.

Their role is simply to identify issues and suggest basic repairs and maintenance. The decision to buy is yours alone.

Is it the buyer’s or seller’s responsibility to fix survey problems?

If you’re still keen on buying the property despite any issues, it’s time to negotiate. Get a builder, damp specialist, or other tradesperson to inspect the property and get a quote for the work that needs to be done.

For instance, if fixing damp is going to cost you £2,000, you can reduce your offer by that same amount.

You can negotiate either through your solicitor or estate agent. You should email them, outlining the issues highlighted in the survey and the cost of each solution.

The seller may decide to take care of the problems themselves, or they may agree to a lower asking price based on the repairs that are needed.

If the seller won’t accept a lower offer, you need to decide if it’s still worth going ahead with the purchase. If an agreement can’t be reached, the seller may withdraw and put the house back on the market.

What happens if the house is devalued?

Sometimes, a survey can uncover costly issues that could reduce the value of the home you want to buy below what you’ve agreed to pay. Mortgage lenders may then issue a ‘down valuation’, reducing the amount they are willing to lend you to complete the purchase.

How To Communicate With Your Surveyor
It's not uncommon, especially with older houses, for surveyors to find issues that need to be addressed.

Communicate With Your Surveyor

The first thing to do if you’re confused or concerned about your survey results is to contact your surveyor. A great surveyor will take the time to walk you through their findings and help you make sense of them.

It’s not uncommon, especially with older houses, for surveyors to find issues that need to be addressed. Talk to your surveyor and ask questions about the severity of each element.

Ask them for their recommendations. This will give you a clearer idea of what the report is telling you and help you make decisions about what to do next. Don’t forget that you are paying for their time, so don’t hesitate to ask them any other questions you may have.

Communicate With the Estate Agent

Once you understand the survey report, talk to your estate agent to get their advice on what to do next.

They can provide a fresh perspective on the survey results and can suggest ways to address the issues, such as re-negotiating the price, or getting a second opinion. Impartiality can be beneficial in this situation, as they can provide guidance that is free from any personal biases.

Communicate With Your Solicitor

Like the estate agent, your solicitor should be able to give you advice about how to move forward based on the results of your property survey.

It is important to speak to both the estate agent and the solicitor, as they will each offer a different professional perspective on the situation.

For example, the estate agent may suggest the best way to maintain a positive relationship between you, as the seller, and the buyer so that neither party backs out of the deal.

Meanwhile, the solicitor should be focused on protecting your interests and be able to tell you if it’s possible to renegotiate based on the findings or if you should withdraw from the sale altogether.

How to renegotiate house price after survey UK
When gathering the quotes, ask for an estimate of how long the tasks might take. Find out when they can fit you into their schedule and how long it will take to complete the job.

Get Quotes for the Work

Based on what your surveyor has told you and any follow-up questions you may have asked, you should have a good understanding of what needs to be done to make the property safe and habitable.

This is why it’s important to have a property survey – to discover underlying issues and determine if the property is worth investing in.

To get an accurate idea of the cost, you should look for at least 3 quotes for each job. This will help you work out an average cost, which could be useful if you need to renegotiate the final price.

When gathering the quotes, ask for an estimate of how long the tasks might take. Find out when they can fit you into their schedule and how long it will take to complete the job.

This information is important since it will give you an idea of when you’ll be able to move in and the costs or issues this timeline could create.

Renegotiate After A Bad Survey

You have a clear understanding of the issues, you have taken advice from the necessary professionals involved in the sales process, and you know the cost and time it will take to complete the repairs. This puts you in a strong position to renegotiate.

Start by going to your estate agent, just like you initially did when you made your offer. Share with them the cost and time it will take for recommended repairs. They should be able to tell you what an acceptable counteroffer is.

Before making your new offer, you need to know what you are willing to be flexible with. Start with your full costs for the repairs, but keep in mind that it may not be accepted. Think about what the least amount you would be happy with is.

This could be taking on some of the costs of the repairs yourself or agreeing for the current owners to make the repairs with their quotes and timescales.

What to do if the survey shows problems?

Finding out that the property you want to purchase has structural or other issues can be disheartening. Yet, it is important to be aware of these issues, especially when you are investing a considerable amount of money.

The Home Survey is designed to provide you with a full understanding of the current condition of the property, which you will be legally and financially responsible for. It is also essential for insurance purposes.

Although a negative Home Survey report can be disconcerting, it can also be a blessing. It allows you to understand the costs and work that needs to be done to the property and even renegotiate a lower purchase price. It does not necessarily mean that you cannot go through with the purchase.

Sell Your Property As Is

Keeping the sale on track makes a lot of sense whether you are a buyer or a seller.  However, some buyers will become very nervous and pull out of the sale.

This is where Property Saviour can help.  Don’t suffer in silence and let us help you achieve a quick sale.

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