It’s a difficult and sometimes an emotional decision to pull out of a deal after reading the surveyors report; but many buyers do. But do you always have to call the deal off?
Neither the vendor, their agents nor buyer wants to hear that the property that you have chosen to buy has a defect or a structural fault. Just because a structural surveyor who has inspected the property has highlighted a fault, does it automatically mean that the transaction should not go through?
We often advise buyers that a structural surveyor’s role is to critique a property and to highlight any potential or existing issues that they can observe. You then need to ask if it can be put right and what is the cost. Most issues come down to money and whether the fault can be put right, before or after exchange of contracts. And who is likely to be the person who pays the buyer or vendor?
This is often the stage that ‘an expert’ may be required to offer their professional advice and opinion. The surveyor will make a ‘best guess estimate’ of the likely costs involved but will nearly always advise that a specialist is needed.
At this stage every interested party should remain calm and simply deal with the facts and not, as in so many instances, the opinions and views of the owner, buyer and agents that are involved.
There are generally three options, when you know the extent of the issues you are dealing with:
The buyer offers to put right the problem/defect at their costs.
The buyer re-negotiates the price to take into account the costs and inconvenience of correcting and fixing the problem.
If the structural defect is so severe and damaging to the property and therefore costly to put right, or neither party are willing to compromise, then the option to withdraw from buying the property should be considered. (a buildings insurance claim may well be a solution that again could be considered by the vendor)
It’s a simple matter of negotiation based on the facts of time, costs and inconvenience! The fact is that there is not a property, particularly an older style or period property that is ‘perfect’ in every way.
As a nation, we accept that older properties have a number of what surveyors would call ‘imperfections or faults’ or an agent would describe as ‘character and charm’! We as a country have for years put up with and enjoyed living in slightly damp, dark and dingy rooms and put up with timbers that have some amount of infestation, wood rot and dry rot (but hopefully not). Just ask the next Scandinavian you speak to!
The other point is that if you asked two surveyors to inspect a property, they possibly would highlight different structural problems following their inspections, but again you would hope their survey results were compatible!
Lets also remember that the defect isn’t half as catastrophic as might be first thought. Not only can you get an estimate from a specialist company but you can also double check these costs versus figures from the Building Cost Information Service and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
Sometimes, too, what looks like a major structural fault can turn out to be a very minor defect; it is always worth obtaining more than one opinion too!
In summary, deal with the facts and not let the emotions be the reasons why a house purchase or sale does not transact. Negotiate using the evidence and specifics. Besides, house buying should be a happy and enjoyable experience.