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Reducing price after a structural survey - what are our chances?!

(21 Posts)
lisbapalea Tue 11-Oct-11 15:00:43

We are in the process of buying a house that we love and hope to move by 4th Nov as everything's pretty much sorted from a mortgage / legal point of view on all sides. We initially had a mortgage valuation survey which went fine but we also did an independent structural survey which only happened last week. This has revealed a fair bit of work to be done - more than we expected. The priorities that the surveyor has said need to be addressed are: damp / woodworm / repointing / new windows / roof repairs, all of which come to c.£25k to fix (based on our surveyors' topline estimates).

We have today gone back to the estate agents asking the sellers to reconsider the sale price to take this into account - we aksed for the full £25k off in the hope they will come back with a suggestion to meet us half way (original purchase price was £405k for some context).

What do you think our chances are - have we been too bullish in asking for this money off?

We love this house and are desperate to move. We've built up a good relationshiop with the sellers themeselves as this whole purchase process has taken what feels like forever to come about, and now we're pooing ourselves that we have been too harsh.

In theory some of this work could wait - I reckon the damp and woodworm should be fixed asap, especially as the house is currently vacant so these jobs could be fixed before we move in, and collectively that probably comes to c.£15k.

Anyone got any advice from being in a similar situation?!

said Tue 11-Oct-11 16:19:17

How urgent are the roof repairs and the pointing? Has you mortgage company now put a retainer on the loan until the work is done? If not, is this just the usual survey-speak of "we'll mention everything that'll one day need doing to cover our arses"? You've nothing to lose, in theory, by going back to them but if you've built up a good relationship, I'd be very pissed off that you've asked for the full amount off. Why not make the meet halfway suggestion now? Do they know you're desperate to move? If so, they'll take their time - I would.

ElderberrySyrup Tue 11-Oct-11 16:33:01

It would depend on whether they
1. think they've already factored the work into the asking price - was it on lower than comparable houses in a better condition?
2. are in denial about the work needing doing/don't agree that it needs doing
3. are dimly aware of the work needed but were hoping you wouldn't find out

Surveys always pick up on everything possible and AFAIK most people don't actually immediately go out and get everything on the survey seen to, so sellers might be inclined to think a buyer is taking the piss if they want the cost of absolutely everything knocked off the price. But as long as you show you are willing to negotiate you have got a good chance, in this market.

I would be interested to know more about the damp problem. A lot of old houses (mine for instance!) have a more or less intractable but relatively minor damp problem which people simply live with for decades; other damp problems are more severe but can be easily fixed. If yours comes into the former category they might not be too happy.

Is it an old house?

rosycheeksandasmile Tue 11-Oct-11 21:38:03

This entirely depends on what the sellers circumstances are I am afraid. Do you know if they have found something? - if they have this may make your bargaining easier.

rosycheeksandasmile Tue 11-Oct-11 21:39:47

I should add that we have just bought a house for OVER the asking price and had to do a load of work including ripping out plaster (damp proof work) and replacing joists (woodworm) - we knew that as the house had gone to sealed bids we would not stand a chance at negotiation

Pendeen Wed 12-Oct-11 00:08:29

£25,000 in relation to an asking price of £450,000 is around 6%.

Obviously I do not know the local market or the sellers' ambitions but this seems small beer if you are a genuine buyer in today's market.

I would press for the full amount.

fortyplus Wed 12-Oct-11 00:32:36

They are under no obligation to drop the price at all.

If you're buying an old property I would've thought that you'd assume that work will need doing unless the vendors specifically state that the house has been refurbished and they provide evidence.

It's a bit of a buyer's market, though, so maybe they'll drop a little.

lisbapalea Wed 12-Oct-11 11:34:03

Hi everyone - thanks for all the responses - it's really useful to get this info!

Evidently they were quite pissed off with our request but have agreed to reduce the price by £5k.

I definitely think this is likely to be a case of a surveyor covering their arse and mentioning everything, and personally I don't think the house will fall down if the repointing isn't done or the windows aren't replaced - it's been standing for 300yrs so far so it's got a reasonable track record of staying upright!

So we're going to prioritise the internal work - the damp and woodworm - and get a professional quote. Hopefully this will be £10k or less (surveyor estimated £16k) in which case the sellers reduction of £5k will be a halfway reduction.

We're now just feeling a bit crap that the people who have been so lovely all the way through this process, now probably think we're just ar5eholes. Need to do some backpedalling to make sure they know how much we love the house!!

aquafunf Wed 12-Oct-11 12:03:27

suspect vendors dont care how much you love the house and are just waiting for the 4th november for it all to be over!

every house over about 30 years will have all of this written into a survey, one house we sold came back with dire warnings about damp, woodworm and repointing. our buyers wanted to knock thousands off..... i told them to buy a new house and offered £200 off so they wouldnt feel they had wasted their survey money! they took it.

well done on the £5k though. pack some lightbulbs for moving in day.

TootAndCommon Wed 12-Oct-11 12:22:11

Surveyors always include every tiny thing that would make the house perfect and bring it up to an 'as new' standard - whereas most purchasers know that they are buying a house 'as seen' with it's natural wear and tear.

The £5k sounds reasonable - hope you are all happy and can go ahead.

Mandy21 Wed 12-Oct-11 12:30:54

I agree with rosycheekandasmile - our house went to sealed bids (which we won) so to go back and say we wanted money off for a damp problem that we may or not not have put right would have just made the sellers opt for the next best offer.

I think that with any house of that age, every survey will come back with some element of damp / woodworm and you've done very well to get a £5k reduction from the vendors.

I think you may have cheesed them off though in going back to re-negotiate and as aquafunf says, all the 'niceties' that you might have expected previously - some of the fittings (curtains / lightbulbs / light fittings) that they might have considered leaving as a gesture of goodwill will probably be going with them or in the bin.

lisbapalea Wed 12-Oct-11 12:34:59

Urgh - can feel the bad karma waiting to bite us on the bum already....

Roll on 4th November when we can all be nice to each other again!

ElderberrySyrup Wed 12-Oct-11 12:39:02

I wouldn't put woodworm into the category of 'stuff that all old houses have' though, not if it is an active infestation. I'm glad OP is getting that one fixed ASAP.

lisbapalea Wed 12-Oct-11 12:51:34

Thank you! It is definitely an active infestation so you have made me feel partly justified!

fortyplus Fri 14-Oct-11 13:12:05

Our house is 100 years old - we've had it 20 years.

When we bought it loads came up on the surver. The vendors paid for the woodworm to be treated - we sorted everything else out afterwards. The chimney that needed repointing eventually got done 10 years later with no ill effects! smile

fortyplus Fri 14-Oct-11 13:12:25


scaryteacher Sat 15-Oct-11 20:53:14

The damp problem could also be that it isn't heated properly. Our house was built in 1835; the previous owners didn't heat it properly, and dried industrial quantities of flowers there for her business. Rather than get damp treatment done we moved in, whacked the heating on for 6 months, and the problem went away.

pippala Sat 15-Oct-11 23:37:53

We accepted an offer on my Mums house of £10,000 less than the top offer because the buyers were willing to wait for probate to be granted.
Then after they had the survey they came back to us through the EA saying the drains were a bit blocked and wouldn't proceed unless we paid for dynorod.
It cost £65 which we paid before exchange.
But I think they were bloody petty. I only paid it to keep things moving!!!

befuzzled Mon 17-Oct-11 12:42:06

well done on the 5K sounds like you did well and good luck, it's not easy buying houses is it?

I have a related bu reverse question. We are buying a house built in 2003. the mortgage valuation survey is happenning this wednesday. Do you think we should pay for an extra survey of our own on top? We have always done this in the past as both of the other 2 properties were brand new and we thought it would show up snaggings to get the builders to make good.

Times are tougher and the house needs cosmetic work, I am wondering if the money would be better spent there?

makemineagin Mon 17-Oct-11 20:25:58

Always get your own survey done in addition to the mortgage one, you need to know if the house has any hidden extras prior to purchase.

befuzzled Mon 17-Oct-11 20:29:05

but how much does the homebuyers report actually do? All the ones weve had in the past say things like, couldnt reach right loft corner so cant comments, couldnt lift carpet in living room etc. Surely we dont actually need a full structural survey?

If we do get a homebuyers report survey, can you remind me when/how we should book it? The mortgage valuation is hapenning on Wednesday.

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