What to Do Following a Negative Homebuyers Report

8 February 2022

Buying a house is always going to be one of, if not the biggest purchase you will make in your life. With that in mind, it can be a harrowing experience getting to the stage of receiving a homebuyers survey only to receive a negative report from the surveyor, highlighting issues that you didn’t notice before putting an offer in.

So, what should you do in this situation? Well, if you have received a negative homebuyers survey or report, here are the next steps that you need to take.

Understanding Your Survey

Not all surveys are the same. At Timberwise for example, we specialise in damp and timber homebuyers surveys, in which a surveyor will pay particular attention to the condition of a properties timber and the presence of damp within the property itself.

The reports findings are informed by our surveyors years of experiences and numerous qualifications, with the findings made in the report the most accurate you will find in the industry. Where the pain might start for prospective buyers though is the extent of the damage wrought by damp or other property damaging issues, and the extent of work needed in order to rectify the issues at hand.

If you have received a survey from Timberwise, then the chances are that you have been referred to us following a previous homebuyers survey that turned up initial evidence of a damp, timber, or other property care problem that needed a specialist survey.

If this is the case, then you may already be prepared for bad news. If, however, you requested the survey off of your own initiative, then the discovery of damp can be a bit of a blow. In any case, the best thing to do would be to ask for your surveyor to talk through the results of the survey with you, and explain exactly what they found, how that problem materialised in the property initially, and what can be done in order to rectify that problem should you want to proceed with the purchase of the property.

All of our surveyors will be more than happy to talk you through their findings, and because our surveyors will be able to recommend and advise on work needed to alleviate damp problems, they will also have a good idea on a rough cost in order to mend the problems found. Usually, you can ascertain a level of damage and cost from these homebuyer reports – and depending on what you are told you will have a few options available to you.

What Are Your Options Following a Negative Homebuyers Survey?

Once you have received your survey results, understand them, and grasp how costly the problem is going to be to fix, you are going to have to make a decision on what to do next regarding the property purchase.

Assuming you are a potential buyer rather than a homeowner, you are going to have a couple of options available to you following a negative report.

Option 1: Walk Away

This option might sting – but it is the simplest course of action, the cheapest, and depending on the level of work required, the easiest in terms of both time and effort.

If you find that following your homebuyers survey that the level of work required to bring the property up to a standard that suits yourselves, the surveyor and the mortgage lender is too much, you can always just turn around and walk away from your purchase.

Obviously, this option is heartbreaking for a number of reasons. First and foremost, you have the emotional factor, taking yourself away from a potential new home that you could have become emotionally invested in, and throwing yourself back into a intensely hostile and competitive housing market.

Then you have to consider the amount of money you have already put towards your potential purchase. This includes fees payable to solicitors, to mortgage lenders, to insurance companies and so on – these fees can mount up and depending on your budget could well be a significant chunk of money that will dent your future efforts to secure a property.

However, in some cases, you might find that in the long run you are saving yourself a lot of heartbreak, and a lot of cash, by simply taking the loss and walking away. It can be difficult, and it might feel counter productive, but if the work is too much for you to handle, either because the timescales are too long or the cost is too high, you might just be saving yourself a lot of mental anguish and desperation down the line.

Option 2: Request Changes Be Made

Remember, at the point that you are being given this homebuyers survey, the property is not yet yours. With this being the case, you are entirely within your rights to ask the seller to move forward with the surveyors suggestions on fixing the property before you move forward with the sale.

You could always write it into the contracts that will be exchanged that you want whatever work to be completed, or paid for and underway, before exchanging and completing the sale. It would be worth having it in writing within the contracts that you want the property surveyed again just prior to the exchange and completion date to have a professional assess if the work is being completed to a satisfactory level.

However, bear in mind that the seller of the property can always refuse you. In fact, this option might depend on market volatility and demand more than anything else. Say, for example, you make your demands regarding the completion of remedial works before you finalise the sale. It is entirely within the sellers right to decline your offer, back out of the sale and put the house back on the market – perhaps even at a lower price just to avoid the hassle.

This option is entirely dependent on your relationship with the seller and the leverage you have over them in terms of the sale. Take into account market demand before you explore this option as it could go wrong.

Option 3: Renegotiate

If you are in England and you have had a negative homebuyers survey delivered to you, the chances are that you have not yet exchanged contracts. This means that all terms of sale, including your initial offer, are up for negotiation and subject to change. If you are in Scotland, you might want to explore the different options available to you before you put it on the market.

So, if you do get served a negative homebuyers survey, then it may well be time to reach out to the properties sellers and discuss a change in the way and amount that you will be paying for the property.

Perhaps you want to explore a discounted price, in exchange for overlooking the work that needs to be done on the property. This opens up funding for you to pursue the fixes that the property needs, whilst also appeasing your budget, the mortgage lenders interests, all whilst not gumming up the sale with delays whilst you wait for the fixes to be made by the seller.

Another advantage to this option is that you get to complete the repairs to the specification that you want, rather than the seller. This means you can be assured of the materials being used in the repair as well, instead of leaving things to a seller who could be tempted to use cheaper materials and options should they be available, as they will no longer be in the property.

Renegotiation is always going to be tricky, so make sure that you enter in negotiations knowing exactly what the issues are, how they are to be fixed, and the cost that will be associated with having the repairs done. Remember that it won’t only be the seller that you will need to convince, but potentially also your mortgage lender as well.

Act On Your Homebuyers Survey

If you have received a damp and timber survey from us, or from any surveyor with property care suggestions that need acting upon, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today. Call 0800 288 8660 or visit us online to discover and arrange our expert property care services as you need.