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Flat purchase nightmare

(16 Posts)
Anxioushomebuyer Tue 15-Oct-13 13:54:11

Hello everyone
am at the end of my tether and would really appreciate your views on this. After relationship breakdown, I'm buying a flat in south London for me and my DCs. No chain involved and all the finance was sorted out beforehand.

Been nightmare from start to finish - should have completed end Aug but because of issues to do with the lease, people not being direct with me, etc. we are still not ready to exchange. Worst thing is DCs have had to miss several weeks of school 'cause we are living in temporary accommodation (holiday rental, not normal rental - it wasn't worth renting for 6 months and very difficult to secure in this bit of London) and the LA wouldn't accept it for address purposes (I tried, but to be honest, I don't have the strength to fight them about it and I kept thinking that exchange was around the corner and then we'd have evidence of where we live and the kids could go back to school).

Just as I thought this might happen, we find (on a random external visit) large, bulging cracks on the flat's patio. The surveyor looked at the property several months ago and it turns out that he didn't have access to the patio (wasn't given a key by the estate agent I think). Of course I saw the flat several times, but (thinking back) each time I saw it, old furniture and cardboard was obscuring the cracks on the patio). So, I strongly suspect these cracks were hidden from me and the surveyor (who, otherwise, found no problems with the flat). I've since contacted him and shown him the photos and he doesn't think it's an issue (i.e. it's not likely to affect the structure of the flat). The vendor is refusing to pay for a subsidence survey and I cannot afford another survey and it'll take about a month to be completed. I am desperate for my DCs to go back to school. I work miles (miles) away and am relying on a family member to help when I go to work but it's really getting me, and them, down. Plus I am recovering from cancer treatment so am very tired and have been told not to get stressed by my consultant (easier said than done).

My question is: should I just back out of the purchase altogether and start again (I don't think the cracks are subsidence related, but can't be sure. Can't afford another survey and don't want to wait a month for one to be done, plus don't trust the vendor/estate agent now). If I do this, we would need to stay in holiday rental (very expensive) and the kids are still not in school and could take months. Or, should I take a risk (the surveyor has seen the photos of the cracks and isn't worried), maybe ask for a reduction in the purchase price (to cover the costs of repairing the cracks) and exchange in next couple weeks. Sorry for the length of this email - am trying not to drip feed. Many thanks.

50shadesofmeh Tue 15-Oct-13 16:29:06

Do you want the flat? genuinely ? I'd just go with your gut, sounds like they have messed you around, is there anything else around ?

Anxioushomebuyer Tue 15-Oct-13 16:37:29

Hello 50. Nope, not much else around. Don't have a lot of money and prices in s. London going up. I do like the flat, but it needs work. I just want DCs back in school and, if it wasn't for this, would probably start afresh. But will I regret it?

50shadesofmeh Wed 16-Oct-13 16:27:04

Not necessarily , surveyors tend to be a bit alarmist about things in my opinion. If I were you I'd get surveyor to check it out and maybe lower my asking prove if its a massive problem.

MistyB Wed 16-Oct-13 16:32:48

Can you get an estimate to remove and replace the the patio and deduct this from the price of the flat as well as ask about an indemnity insurance policy to cover the eventuality that this problem is subsidence related (I don't know if this is possible)

lalalonglegs Wed 16-Oct-13 16:41:57

I don't understand why it will take a month to sort out a survey. Find a friendly independent structural engineer and ask him to look at it - will probably cost about £100. Explain that you don't want a full survey, you just want him to put your reassure you about the cracked patio.

racmun Wed 16-Oct-13 16:53:34

You can't get indemnity insurance for a risk which is tangible - ie you can find out if it is subsidence by getting a survey.

What does the lease say would you be liable for subsidence yourself or a shared management cost, howling is in the reserve fund if any.

Also think you need to pin the surveyor down a bit more assuming you're buying with a mortgage he owes a duty to them to.

Tbh standard practice is to get a structural engineer out- how much will it cost- a few hundred up front Gould save thousands in the long run.

Anxioushomebuyer Wed 16-Oct-13 18:38:32

Thanks everyone. Am really grateful for your views. LaLa, it took me a month to get the first survey done (only a homebuyer's report - I couldn't book a full structural survey 'cause it's a flat) so I am assuming that it'll take a month to get another one done (apparently there is a shortage of surveyors). Though if I could get one just to look at the patio, that's one solution (if I can find one). My solicitor has said that I would be liable for the costs, so maybe one way is to work out how much it would cost to repair and deduct from the asking price. Indemnity insurance sounds like good idea, but I think the vendor will be resistant. If she declines, what do I do then? If it wasn't for the kids, I would walk away, but I am desperate for them to go back to school.

racmun Wed 16-Oct-13 19:05:29

Sorry to be a kill joy, you can't get indemnity insurance for potential subsidence. I'm a property Solicitor and it's a non starter. Indemnity insurance is there to indemnify you in the event of legal action being taken for example breach of covenants, enforcement action by local authority. Buildings insurance covers subsidence.

The structural engineer won't need to go through the mortgage co in the same way as the homebuyers report - do in theory you should be able to get it done within a week.

You need to speak to your solicitor and get the insurance and repairing obligations in the Lease checked really really carefully. Is the patio actually included in the demise that you're buying?

Can you go 50/50 with the vendor for the cost?

50shadesofmeh Wed 16-Oct-13 19:12:30

Surely the vendor realises this will rear its head with Amy potential future buyer so it's in her interest to be patient with you while you sort out surveys etc.

Anxioushomebuyer Wed 16-Oct-13 19:15:09

Thanks Racmun. Actually, just after reading earlier replies, I emailed a local structural engineer to ask if s/he could look at the patio (only) this coming week if possible. My solicitor told me that, if the patio is part of the property (which it is), then I'd have a liability. But you are right - I need to get this checked very carefully. Are vendors and/or estate agents allowed to hide defects such as these? I am pretty sure someone hid it (especially since the surveyor was not given a key to the patio).

Anxioushomebuyer Wed 16-Oct-13 19:18:58

I am just so anxious not to lose the flat, 50. If I ask her to wait a bit longer and then ask for a reduction to cover cost of patio repairs, I suspect this will piss her mightily (though you are right that this might affect other buyers - if the cracks are picked up by the buyer and/or surveyor, that it is)

happylittlevegemites Wed 16-Oct-13 22:23:44

Hi, you can get surveyors out to just look at one particular problem. We did it recently - we wanted to put an offer in on a property but there was something that made us concerned. The surveyor chatted to me about it, estimated that it would cost £100 +VAT to report on it (which is what it did end up costing), picked the keys up from the estate agent two days later, phoned me that afternoon to discuss and posted a written report the next week.

The whole process was very straightforward. For the sake of a couple of days and £100 or so, I would do it. As well as finding out what is wrong, you'll get pointers on how to fix it.

I reckon you must be pretty stressed about the whole situation. We've just been through a bit of a tough time too and I can understand (well, a little bit, the schools thing must make it worse) that panic-y feeling of having nowhere to live. So close and yet so far! This problem will add perhaps another week. Try (if you can!) to just step back. Within a week you'll know for sure whether you'll be going ahead with this flat, or moving into rented.

Anxioushomebuyer Thu 17-Oct-13 08:54:04

I didn't realise this happy - I thought that I'd have to book a whole new survey and it'd take a month. In fact, the structural engineer I emailed yesterday emailed back to ask me to call him today to see how he can help. Yes, happy am very stressed, but you are right that I should just step back (in fact, I could see what I had to do but, in my stress-head state, couldn't think straight ifkwim). Hope everything went well for you in the end. Only thing to negotiate now is a reduction in asking price if the repairs are needed. Thanks everyone - am grateful for your advice.

happylittlevegemites Thu 17-Oct-13 19:20:03

Things turned out fine for us. The results from the survey meant that we walked away, so that £120 spent saved us a lot of hassle. But the agent selling that one had another house just around the corner, priced for a quick sale. We managed to get it before it went on the market we're feeling quietly smug about that It was all very stressful at the time as we were being badgered from our buyers' solicitors to exchange contracts and we'd already resigned ourselves to move into rented.

happylittlevegemites Thu 17-Oct-13 19:22:03

And good luck! I hope all this turns out well for you.

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