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How to Negotiate a House Price Down After a Bad Survey

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by Reviewed by Mike Ashton

20th Nov 2019 (Last updated on 15th Aug 2022) 9 minute read

The best way to renegotiate a house price after bad survey results is to be realistic with the price you have in mind and to be honest with the seller.

As your offer is still ‘Subject to Contract’, you’re not the legal owner of the property so it’s still possible for the terms of the contract to be altered. This means you can use the survey results to renegotiate the house price to cover the repair costs.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What to Do with Bad Survey Results
  2. Common Issues Found After a House Survey
  3. What Are the Options After Bad House Survey Results?
  4. Who Do You Renegotiate a House Offer With?
  5. How to Proceed With the Renegotiation
  6. Tips for Renegotiating a House Price After Survey
  7. How Does it Affect Your Mortgage Offer?
  8. EPC Survey
  9. Learn More About Surveying

What to Do with Bad Survey Results

Your first line of action should be to speak to the surveyor. They will take you through the issues step by step so that you’re aware of the repairs needed and their likely costs. You also have the option of getting a second opinion from another RICS surveyor.

Research by Quick Move Now discovered that more than 1 in 4 property sales fell through in the second quarter of 2019. 23% of these sales failed due to the buyer pulling out after the property survey highlighted issues.

It should be noted that some problems can be easily fixed. Surveyors have to highlight even the most common and obvious issues, so don’t be scared off by these.

Only major issues should require renegotiation with the seller. If there are no major defects or the report was positive, it’s not usually advised to negotiate a house price down. The seller might reject the deal, particularly if they have other offers.

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Common Issues Found After a House Survey

If you’re considering renegotiations, it’s important to understand what issues could be highlighted during the survey.

Damp

Many older properties will have some sort of damp-related issue. To assess the situation in more detail, you should arrange a damp survey. A damp survey can cost anywhere between £150 - £300.

Minor causes of damp can usually be remedied with special damp proofing. This can cost an average of £70 per metre.

For larger jobs, the price can increase greatly depending on the nature of the work required.

Japanese Knotweed

The cost of removing Japanese Knotweed varies depending on the extent of its growth, the damage caused and how difficult it will be to remove.

A small patch of Japanese knotweed could cost around£2,000 - £3,000 for herbicidal removal. It might involve tens of thousands of pounds for full excavation and disposal of larger sites.

It's important to note that other invasive plants may also be discovered. These include bamboo, ivy and horsetail.

Roof Issues

Minor defects such as cracked tiles can be done by any qualified handyman. For more serious problems, you’ll need to find a specialist roofing contractor.

You may want to consider having a roof survey conducted to review the problem. A single-storey property could cost anywhere between £150 - £250. If scaffolding is required, it could be up to £1,000.

In terms of repair costs, you should expect to pay around£100 to replace up to 6 broken tiles or for professional gutter cleaning. Retiling the roof could cost between £5,000 and £7,000 (this is based on the UK average for a 3-bedroom house).

Electrical Problems

If the issues are classed as ‘urgent’, then you should immediately contact a professional electrician. They can then undertake an Electrical Installation Condition Report.

Costs will vary depending on the extent of the work that’s needed. However, to rewire an average 3-bedroom house, the cost could be in the region of£3,200 and up to 10 days' worth of work.

Subsidence

If your survey uncovers evidence of subsidence, then you should begin seeking professional advice on how to deal with it. You may need to have a RICS Home Survey Level 3 conducted to provide a thorough analysis.

If the cause determined is minor, then it should be easily fixed. Only an expert can provide you with the most suitable course of action, but for minor issues, this could be:

  • Removing any obstructing trees or vegetation
  • Repairing damaged drains or pipes
  • Demolishing and rebuilding garages or extensions that have caused the instability

For the more extreme cases, the treatment needed is called underpinning. According to research by My Job Quote, the average price for traditional underpinning is £12,000, taking an average of 4 weeks to complete.

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What Are the Options After Bad House Survey Results?

1. Research the Repair Costs

Find quotes from a variety of builders, electricians, and anyone who can work with you on the defects. You can then give your calculations to the seller.

Research by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) reveals that 4 in 5 property buyers did not have a survey conducted. Many later found faults throughout the building. Those who didn’t have a survey had to spend an average of £5,750 on repair work they weren’t initially aware of.

Around 17% had to pay £12,000 to make their new property liveable. You could save yourself from this repair work by pulling out of the transaction early. Or you could ask the seller to negotiate and cover the costs.

2. Ask the Seller to Fix the Issues

Some sellers may be happy to fix the issues themselves. However, they may be less willing if major work is needed.

After a survey by Which? it was discovered that two-thirds of homeowners who had a survey conducted in 2016 were successfully able to either negotiate a lower price or get the seller to fix the issues.

If they agree to fix the issues, then it would be wise to ensure that they finish the work before exchanging contracts.

The only issue with asking the seller is that they will hire workers on their accord or attempt to do the repair work themselves. They may also ask to add the cost of the repair to the overall house price.

3. Accept the Offer

If the results don’t uncover major problems, you may want to calculate how much it would cost to repair them yourself.

If the property is already being offered at a reasonable price you can continue with the purchase as planned.

4. Pull Out of the House Sale

If your offer is still Subject to Contract you’re legally within your rights to walk away from the sale. You’ll need to contact your solicitor who will then inform you of the necessary steps to take.

You will lose money for the work already carried out, such as the conveyancing searches or surveys, as you don’t get reimbursed for these costs.

Pulling out of a house sale after exchanging contracts will result in a large fine and penalties. The seller will also be expected to keep your deposit.

5. Negotiate the House Price Down

Negative survey results can affect the value of a property. This means a buyer can legally ask for a renegotiation of the price to reflect its current condition. Even if an offer has been accepted, it’s still possible to make changes to the contract as they haven’t been signed.

A survey conducted in 2017 by Barclays Mortgages revealed that 51% of first-time buyers regretted not negotiating the house price prior to the transaction. 1 in 5 buyers had overpaid by an average of £8,000 - in London, this was up to £13,000.

Who Do You Renegotiate a House Offer With?

Many people prefer to speak directly to the seller. This can be easier but not always possible.

The next step would be to contact your estate agent and give them the report. They’ll speak to the seller and pass on your concerns.

You should also communicate with your conveyancer. Conveyancers can help you with any legal advice and suggest whether it’s possible to renegotiate.

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How to Proceed With the Renegotiation

You need to identify the current market value of the property and compare it to the condition of the house based on the survey results. Only major issues will encourage a renegotiation.

Calculating the cost of renovating the property until it’s in ‘good condition’ can help your case. It would be wise to include the results of the second surveyor to support your findings. Once you have a thorough report, you can email your estate agent and conveyancer.

The seller may ask for follow-up reports so they can conduct their own inspection. Be prepared to haggle and be realistic with the price you’re willing to accept.

There’s no way to determine how long the negotiation of the house price will take or if it’ll be successful.

Tips for Renegotiating a House Price After Survey

We’ve provided you with a list of useful tips for negotiating a house price after a survey:

  • Do your research - Thorough research can provide the seller with evidence of the property’s condition, encouraging a renegotiation.
  • Hire another surveyor as a second opinion - You might need a different type of house survey such as the RICS Home Survey Level 3 instead of a Level 2 Survey.
  • Be honest and transparent - Be confident in your findings and present them to the seller in full.
  • Listen to the advice from your estate agent and conveyancer - They’re professionals in their field and are there to help and offer expert advice.
  • Be patient - Don’t come across as aggressive or impatient as it can ruin the relationship between you and the seller.
  • Prepare to compromise - There may be a lot of haggling and multiple offers presented before a new deal is accepted. There's also the risk of being gazumped so the more realistic you are the better.

How Does it Affect Your Mortgage Offer?

If the renegotiation is successful, you’ll need to contact your mortgage lender.

You can contact them earlier in the negotiations process, but if it’s successful then it’s vital to contact them immediately. The mortgage application will have to be altered based on the property’s new value. This will also be the case should you encounter a down-valuation.

The amount of time it takes to change the contract is up to the lender. Some may finish the same day it’s discussed, others may take up to a week.

If you neglect to contact your mortgage lender, you‘ll be borrowing the same amount initially agreed even though the property costs less.

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EPC Survey

EPC stands for Energy Performance Certificate which is an energy efficiency rating for your property. It’s required by law when renting and selling a property. It will provide information on the property’s energy usage and costs and will have recommendations on how to reduce these.

If you’re buying a property, don’t forget to check the current EPC. This will give you a good estimation of your future energy costs and may be useful when negotiating.

The survey will take, on average, 1 hour to complete and the certificate will cost at least £35.

Learn More About Surveying

This was part of our surveying guide. In the next article, we will explore flood risk areas and what to do. To learn more, read identifying flood risk areas and properties.

Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.

Mike Ashton

Reviewed by Mike Ashton

Director, Cambridge Building Surveyors

With over 20 years of experience in the property surveying industry, Mike Ashton is now the director at Cambridge Building Surveyors.