My property survey uncovered a problem. What now?
Depending on the level and type of survey you may find your report gives priorities or condition ratings such as A, B and C or 1, 2 or 3. This will give a severity, usually the higher the more pressing and need of attention. You may also find that there is a summary near the beginning or end which highlights a number of items as a priority. This is meant to be clear and straightforward, however this isn’t always the case, particularly on larger or complex properties.
For instance, you will not find a condition rating on the most in-depth survey, the listed building survey. This is because most items would probably have a high rating and without looking into the detail would scare most buyers away at first sight.
It is important to understand that the survey by its very nature can seem negative. A report will generally only highlight the negative aspects rather than a positive. This can give a distorted view and it is for this reason it is very important to talk to your surveyor either in person or over the phone.
Often you will be given perhaps a 15-minute window to view a property prior to making an offer, so it is not surprising that during a 4-hour survey the surveyor notices things you did not. But finding out this information before you exchange contracts gives you a chance to either renegotiate the asking price or request that the sellers make the necessary repairs in exchange for receiving the original asking price. If you feel that the problems revealed are too much to take on, you are also in an informed position to withdraw your offer.
So, what should you do first? WAIT. Let the surveyor do their job. The report can take anywhere between 1 and 5 days to write up depending on size and complexity. Second you should speak to your surveyor after the survey on the day of inspection, and then again after the report has been issued.
Next, its your call. You may wish to try and negotiate with the owners on the price or perhaps you wish to proceed knowing the main issues. A Which? survey in 2016 found that nearly 70% of buyers who had a building survey done were able to either renegotiate the price or get the seller to fix the issues before completion. If further investigations are identified, your surveyor may have a few local contacts they may be able to pass on. Further works may require specific quotes and require a more in depth or destructive survey. Whatever is required, discuss it with your surveyor first.