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Homebuyers Surveys. Do people have them to highlight big stuff or do they use them to nitpick over price?

(30 Posts)
beatie Wed 04-May-05 13:52:28

I'm a little nervous. We're in the midst of selling our house and our buyers suddenly decided to have a Home Buyers Survey done. It's understandable since we have a Victorian house.

I was in when the Surveyor had finished. (It's difficult to be out for 3 hours when you've got a toilet-training toddler!) He was nice enough to tell me what he had found. He himself said there was nothing major and he was nit-picking but there was a list of about 6 minor things - mostly things which would be expected in any house this age.

So, is it likely our buyers will try to haggle on the price? They're not paying asking price anyway. Is it up to the Surveyor to report on whether the house is valued correctly and if he says the price is reasonable for the ££££s they're paying, they don't have a case to fight on?

I just have a bad feeling about it. I'd appreciate anyone's opinions/experience over this.

Waswondering Wed 04-May-05 13:57:12

We are buyers and have just had a survey done (from tomorrow will be sellers too, but hey!). Ours was a mortgage valuation survey (same thing? I'm in Scotland) and it had a box on the form for the amount of money to be kept back for problems - our surveyor said none, but in the text of his report drew attention to a crack in a ceiling (the house is 70 yrs old and isn't a problem) and that there had been previous water ingress above a flat roof. Nothing that my solicitor was remotely concerned about and nothing that changed the offer price for us.

Aren't surveys compulsory for mortgage purposes? Sorry if I'm talking about something completely different!!

Our house is going on the market in the next day or two and I've been quite amazed by how long it took to get it up to Homes and Gardens style!! Looks good though.

noddyholder Wed 04-May-05 14:00:59

a homebuyers will cover general things and also will only cover places he could access easily ie no need to move big pieces of furniture or climb high walls etc.I would think if they are minor things in keeping with the age of the house there will be no need to drop the price Have you reduced it at all already?

NomDePlume Wed 04-May-05 14:02:05

To be brutally honest, a buyer will knock as much money off the asking price of a house as they can get away with. If you have agreed a price below that subject to survey and they survey throws up minor works, then it would be perfectly acceptable for the buyer to knock the additional costs to put the niggles right off the original agreed price. I know it's awkward and horrible, but the fact is that is currently a buyers market.

Crappy, I know. We're hoping to move in the next few months so this is a problem I'll be facing myself, in the not too distant. Thankfully we're in a modern house (8 years old) and so there's very minimal painting etc works to be done before we put it on the market.

NomDePlume Wed 04-May-05 14:03:52

Having said thatI'd be extremely miffed if I'd knocked a significant % off the asking price and then the buyer came to me with a small list of niggles. I think there'd have to be negotitations and compromises on both sides.

miranda2 Wed 04-May-05 14:09:24

speaking for myself I always have a full survey done to rule out major stuff like damp or the roof needing replacing or the wiring needing doing, and wouldn't expect to negotiate on price for niggles - i suppose roughly if the stuff was going to cost under about £2k I'd expect that, I'd only try to negotiate for bigger things. But then I'm always terrified I'll lose the house I'm buying, and I expect an older house to have 'niggles' and have budgeted for them anyway.
Hope it goes OK.

Fio2 Wed 04-May-05 14:11:37

they always say 'typical' of a house of this house and size and the buyer always comes back and tries to knock more money off

DRIVES ME MAD

that said, i had the house sale from hell last time and my judgement is clouded

debs26 Wed 04-May-05 14:15:30

might be up to their mortgage lender - if something needs doing asap they will not always lend the money until the work has been done and if they cant borrow the money they cant give it to you. someone nitpicking unnecessarily over a survey is likely to get arsey further down the line anyway so better to know what sort of buyers you have. my mum and dad are selling the house i rented from them for a while and the survey found fleas , probably from my cats. so the buyer pulled out. imo he cant have really wanted the house because that is something my parents would have dealt with before contracts were exchanged anyway (they have got rid of them now btw)

crunchie Wed 04-May-05 14:15:32

My understanding is this. A mortgage valuation is purely done by and for the mortgage company. A home buyers survery is one up form this, but not as in depth as a full structural survey. I was advised in an old house a home buyers survery is teh very least you should do when buying a house. If small issues come up the buyer may then use it to get money off - when we sold our house the survey said 'MAY have some evidence of movement' This was in an old house and was to be expected. The buyers freaked out and tried to pull out. Iknew that I'd bought the place 2 years earlier and that it was within 'normal' ranges so I offered to pay for a special subsidence survery - £150 - so the buyer got piece of mind and continued with teh purchase.

If I were buying I would of course use a survey to try to get a further discount (it's called negotiation) if there was something that needed doing - like roof or windows or whatever. But minor niggles are to be expected. It is a buyers market at the moment so be prepared for them to try it on. Don't be stressed, just tell them no, you have agreed a price and that is that. Most people once they have had the survey have their heart set on the house anyway, and are simply 'trying their luck'. Be firm (unlesss it is a major thing) and polite, and most of all don't think of it as cheeky - think of it that you would ask for a discount if you suddenly noticed a mark on a dress, even if it were already reduced. If they said no would you still buy the dress? Yes if you liked it and teh mark was minor and unoticeable Good luck

expatinscotland Wed 04-May-05 14:17:44

I once bought a house that was built in 1902. We had a full structural survey on it. Try to see if from the buyer's point of view: would you want to spend your entire budget for a house, then find out it needs £20,000 worth of urgent repairs you couldn't afford?

We didn't do it to 'niggle' over the price, but to find out exactly what we were getting. Turns out this home needed a new roof and furnace. We asked the seller to take those costs off the price. If they hadn't been prepared to do so, we'd have just walked away and found another house to buy. As it was they were moving for job relocation, we were first-time buyers with a big cash deposit, so they were willing to cut a deal for quick sale.

It's not a legal case for the courts. It's a business transaction. If I felt the home was over-priced considering the work that needed done, and the seller wasn't willing to negotiate, I simply wouldn't buy the house.

It doesn't matter that the buyer 'isn't paying asking price'. In some areas, asking price isn't what buyers are prepared to pay b/c of a slow down in the market.

It all boils down to what a buyer is willing to pay and how much the seller needs to sell.

beatie Wed 04-May-05 14:21:35

Waswondering - a valuation (survey) by the mortgage company is compulsory - a home buyers survey looks at additional things and is an additional cost to the buyers.

I'm aware it's a buyers market. Our house sold within a week though. It is in tip top condition - ready to move in. All neutral colours, stripped floorboards etc... Plus it has one of the biggest gardens I've seen of a house this size. I'm hoping, since our buyers are moving from a flat, that they will want to be moved by summer so they can enjoy use of the garden. Hmmm - we cling on to hopes don't we!

Anyway, the house was builder modernised (and well done) 3 years ago so is was rewired,replastered, had new windows, heating, kitchen and bathrooms out in then. The buyers aren't even going to have to buy so much as a tin of paint when they move in.

Anyway, I digress. What happens next? Will we be contacted by our Estate Agent or Solicitor if they want more money off? Do we try to negotiate? We paid asking price for the house we're hoping to buy. We can't stretch anymore financially - do we tell them that?

The survey on the house we hope to buy highlighted the flat felt garage roof could leak suddenly. It doesn't affect the value of the house - and we're happy to accept it's a small job to sort out in the future. If our buyers niggle over our house, do we then try to push it on to our vendors and niggle over the garage roof?

What a horrible business buying and selling is.

expatinscotland Wed 04-May-05 14:25:08

It's really up to you, beatie. How much do you need to sell your house? How much can you afford?

If I were really desperate to move, and had a no-chain buyer on my hands, I'd be tempted to do a deal.

In business, it's every man for himself. Sellers want top price, buyers want a bargain.

beatie Wed 04-May-05 14:27:19

Also wanted to add house prices are still rising in our area. We did sell our house quickly but that was the week beofre Easter. Now the market may be more flooded and we may have more competetition - although there are still few houses being marketed around here in the same price range that do not need at least cosmetic makeovers.

Hmm, it's a waiting game. I wonder when we'll hear.

beatie Wed 04-May-05 14:32:19

I think we'd be willing to do a deal if we're talking low hundreds and not high hundreds or thousands. Most of the niggles were things that we could fix. Brick work, pointing, additional loft insulation. The thing I'm worried about is the mention of damp. 99.5% of the house is damp free but there's one wall, about 30cm across, which showed up a damp reading on his meter.


The surveyor said, on a piece of wall so small, he'd not recommend that we or the buyers had the wall damp-proofed, since it isn;t worth it unless it is a whole wall.But, I know how people recoil over the word damp.

The house was damp-proofed (apparently) in 2002 before we bought the house. We have a guarantee. I wonder if we then push it onot the builder. Arghh, I really don't need the stress. I'm now wishing I wasn't at home when the Surveyor finished and I'd still be blissfully ignorant.

Spacecadet Wed 04-May-05 14:49:46

hi our house is on the market at the mo, so sympathise, re the damp, is it downstairs or upstairs? upstairs, it could be something as simple leaking roof tile or blocked guttering,which can be easily fixed, rising damp however is not so good, downstairs, it could again, be leaking, blocked guttering or, has your damp course been bridged by anything?? new path, flower border etc, anything that stopswater draining away from your house. If the damp problem is down to an inadequate damp course, you should claim this back on your gaurentee.

beatie Wed 04-May-05 14:52:09

Strangely it is on an internal wall downstairs. Between the hallway and the living room - very much in the centre of the house.

Spacecadet Wed 04-May-05 14:52:17

I wouldnt worry about your loft insulation etc, buyers might try to knock money off for re-pointing etc, what may happen though is that the buyer will either, one, come back and try to re negotiate the price
two, arrange a full structural survey(which I would always have done anyway)
or proceed as normal.
you should hear back from their conveyancer in due course regarding the next step.

Spacecadet Wed 04-May-05 14:53:05

it is not an internal wall near a chimney breast is it?

beatie Wed 04-May-05 14:54:33

FIL could do the repointing for us. It's only in a few areas and the house is just a small terraced. It's the damp I worry about - even though it is minute and the surveyor says he won't recommend it needs doing.

NomDePlume Wed 04-May-05 14:56:25

Tbh, for the sake of a couple of grand - £2k max, as someone else said, on a property worth £250k+ (no idea what your price is but that would be my threshold), I'd really try to get my solicitor to negotiate hard with buyer. Point out that the niggles are superficial and cheap to fix and that the buyer has already had a significant amount off the asking price, assuming that the cost to repair the niggles would not amount to more than the discount you've already agreed (subject to survey). If hard negotiations don't work and it looks like you're seriously jeopardising your sale, then I'd knock the cash off.

Spacecadet Wed 04-May-05 14:58:48

could be a leaking chimney breast, again, easy to sort out, the buyers will prob want to investigate the cause of the damp.

beatie Wed 04-May-05 15:01:15

NomDePlume - Thanks. That sounds reasonable enough.

Spacecadet - the wall is far from a chimney breast too. I guess they might want to investigate it further. Perhaps it is time to get those dampproof guarantees out and see if they are worth anything 3 years down the line.

Spacecadet Wed 04-May-05 15:04:50

beatie i would hope that the damproof gaurentee was longer than 3 years, yes check them over, because if its a fault in the damp course, again thats easily fixed, honestly wouldnt worry about rest though,they are things that you expect with an old house

beatie Wed 04-May-05 15:09:17

Thanks for either everyone's reassurance or practical negotiating advice. Makes me feel a little less scared.

Can you tell it's the first time I've been a house vendor?

moondog Wed 04-May-05 15:09:48

We had one done after an architect friend pointed out something worrying in the bay window of the Edwardian pile we were about to buy. We had called him round to discuss ideas for major work on this house. Alarm bells were already ringing when the vendors asked if he could come after contracts had been signed!

It cost over a grand, was very detailed but ultimately full of 'ifs' and 'buts' and 'mays'.
Still, freaked us sufficiently to pull out 12 hours before exchanging contracts.

We had one done on the house we eventually bought, even though it was less than a year old because we felt very wobbly a bout the whole thing and ultimately it was a fraction of the cost of the house.

NB The Edwardian pile is still for sale two years later.

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