30 August 2012: Top tips to sell (and buy) your home – Interpreting your survey and renegotiating

Over the last 5 weeks we’ve looked at how to sell your home, and what a buyer should look for.  This week we cover the final stage of the home buying process – interpreting your survey and re-negotiating.

Before reading your survey report, remember its purpose is to tell you what is wrong with the property; not to tell you what a wonderful home it will make.  Expect for there to be some things wrong: there nearly always is.

Many surveys use a traffic light system (red, amber and green) to give an overview of each element.  These are useful to bring a buyer’s attention to relevant issues, but do not work very well as a summary.  A survey report might have six red elements which will only cost a total of a few hundred pounds to put right; another survey may have only one red element that could cost many thousands of pounds.

How a ‘defect’ is described can affect how the purchaser views an issue, and many surveyors use language which can overplay the importance of something.  I work hard to give a balanced view of the property, as nearly every building has something ‘wrong’ with it (including my own home).  Some ‘defects’ you can live with, others will quickly get worse and will end up costing a lot more to repair if they are not dealt with quickly.  One way I give a more balanced view about a property is to have a ‘recommended improvements’ section for items which other surveyors may report as a defect.  In my opinion, this gives a more balanced view, and doesn’t unnecessarily scare off buyers.  A surveyor’s role is to educate the buyer, not terrify them.

Regarding re-negotiation, this is a difficult issue.  I have never personally tried to re-negotiate because any issues that have come to light during my purchases have been minor, and have not been worth putting the purchase at risk.  Sometimes, though, it is fair enough to ask the seller to reduce the price in light of something the survey report has highlighted.  Perhaps a reasonable question to ask yourself is, if you knew then what you know now, what would you have been prepared to pay?

For free advice and information please click on the links or contact us on 01202 237377 or info@sutherlandsurveyors.co.uk.


Daniel Sutherland