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    • Frayed nerves
    • By Frayed nerves 9th Mar 17, 7:42 PM
    • 8Posts
    • 2Thanks
    Frayed nerves
    Negative survey
    • #1
    • 9th Mar 17, 7:42 PM
    Negative survey 9th Mar 17 at 7:42 PM
    Hello folks, looking for some advice and/or reassurance. Hope this doesn't bore you to tears but feel like I should give some background.

    After having our 2 bed terraced property on the market for 12 months or so we received an offer. The 'buyer' came on the Monday with daughter, liked it, asked if she could come back at the first available weekend so arrived with the son as he works during the week (works in a building company and will be living with her for a while) on the very next Sunday and promptly made an offer on the Monday morning.
    We had just that week elected to take the 'offers invited between X and Y from the agent's listing and put it out at offers over X. So not actually a price reduction, more a clearer indication that we would consider the lower end of the scale. Previous viewings had never elicited any real negative comment but a few people hadn't liked the family bathroom being downstairs, as is the case with many of these older types of terraces; for other viewers, they liked it but, as with us when we're looking, it just wasn't for them, nice but not the one, . Nor had anyone ever said it was too expensive or there was a problem to be rectified.
    We got back to the 'buyer' and said 'ok, well that is a bit less than we were prepared to accept (less than bottom end X)' so she immediately came back the same day with a £5k increase. We again said 'still a bit low (still below X) can this be improved on?' She again the same day increased by another £1k, suggesting that was her limit as she's buying from equity. We accepted, not what we'd hoped for as X was a very realistic price and still below 2 fresh valuations undertaken that month by £10k, but we were keen to sell and move on.

    Our agent contacted us today, following the 'buyer's' survey on Friday. She would like to send a builder round. Not the end of the world possibly as she hasn't said anything about pulling out, but the survey is quite picky. This terrace is 1900's brick and as such experiences many of the things an older property does. I feel that he has significantly emphasised all the things you'd expect to find in a 100 year old house and as such it makes for twitchy reading but the property is sound with roof, guttering, boiler, TCV on the rads, remote control on the heating, new windows, doors, carpets, light fittings, bathroom, toilet, kitchen, bathroom/toilet floors and all d!cor all being replaced at various periods within the last 5 years. We did this for our own benefit but also with an eye to preparing the property for sale and successfully upgrading the EPC. We've spent a lot of money on this.

    Many of the things he mentions seems absurd to me like referring to my portable wooden water feature as a "pond" and "a hazard to children and "should be covered or removed". Well hello, it's a small, wooden portable pagoda type thing, not a pond. He talks of removing the vegetation from the walls i.e. non excessive ivy which was only recently cut back to reach a mere few feet from the ground an d all mortar is intact beneath. He mentions a chimney being removed from the kitchen and a couple of small bricks remaining to mark it - the kitchen's in the extension and never had a fireplace in it in its nelly! He says there's moisture ion the cellar, we store paintings, furniture, bric-a-brac and clothes there and have done for years without the slightest trace of damp. He says the lintel above the cellar door is saturated, well of course it ruddy is, it's outside and it's been raining like billy-o!. There's a lot of stuff like that e.,g hair line cracks in the old plaster - we still have a beautiful original ornate plasterwork ceiling. She has seen all this stuff on two occasions, I pointed out to her there's few true lines in the house and some quirky angles. He's said a couple of bricks need looked at in the chimney - fair enough, we haven't lit the fire for years and so not been up there. But much of it seems to be seeing the negative in every aspect of the house.

    We also discovered in the same phone call that there is a slight problem with her house; she has only just found out her house is leasehold for God's sake! So she will have to buy the freehold now.

    It seems she may be looking to recoup the cost of this from us by sending a builder round to say 'oh, it's going to cost THIS much to do all these things' when frankly most of them don't need doing! She's already had her price well discounted as we thought we were being fair by reducing price to cover potential cost of a new flat roof on the extension and a new garage door.

    Help please, am I over-reacting? She hasn't pulled out...yet. I'm worried that someone who doesn't know her house is leasehold is going to be suckered by a money making builder! And we may very well get stuffed by that. She's seen the house, the agent remarked "she had her heart set on it" etc. and we already reduced the price.

    What can you do to combat a very picky survey that does still actually say, on three separate occasions in the text, that the property is worth what she's paying for it and is worth the given market value. She may make a fuss of these things and we're keen to move but have already taken a hit on the price. A friend has a professional damp meter wotsit and is going to lend me it as there's no damp in the house at all and I want to record the cellar reading myself given that nothing has ever been affected by moisture down there - it's a cellar for goodness sake.

    Thank you.
Page 1
    • JigglyPug
    • By JigglyPug 9th Mar 17, 7:59 PM
    • 41 Posts
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    JigglyPug
    • #2
    • 9th Mar 17, 7:59 PM
    • #2
    • 9th Mar 17, 7:59 PM
    Realistically, all you can do is either go back to her and say 'we cannot reduce the price further as we have already taken considerably less than the asking price' or try and come to a compromise with her. I don't think there is much more you can do than that - to be fair, she hasn't even asked for a reduction yet and may just be getting the builder round to get a better idea of what she will need to spend later (This is what we did, and never asked for a reduction in price).
    • Mrs36
    • By Mrs36 9th Mar 17, 8:02 PM
    • 110 Posts
    • 203 Thanks
    Mrs36
    • #3
    • 9th Mar 17, 8:02 PM
    • #3
    • 9th Mar 17, 8:02 PM
    I think with old houses you always have to expect a survey to throw a few things up. It may not necessarily be something that needs to affect the price but she may use it to try to negotiate on the price. At the moment you can't predict the outcome, so let the builder come round and see, even if she does try to lower her offer you don't have to accept.

    What is the alternative? That you say she can't bring the builder round? That would raise alarm bells for me I'm afraid, however well meaning the intentions were.
    • Cakeguts
    • By Cakeguts 9th Mar 17, 8:15 PM
    • 2,737 Posts
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    Cakeguts
    • #4
    • 9th Mar 17, 8:15 PM
    • #4
    • 9th Mar 17, 8:15 PM
    You don't have to reduce your offer.
    • Frayed nerves
    • By Frayed nerves 9th Mar 17, 8:18 PM
    • 8 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    Frayed nerves
    • #5
    • 9th Mar 17, 8:18 PM
    • #5
    • 9th Mar 17, 8:18 PM
    Thank you both for taking the time and trouble to reply.

    You're quite right, she hasn't asked for a reduction yet, hasn't cancelled the purchase and may well just be looking to see how much the chimney bricks etc. will cost.
    It's really quite nerve wracking to have a sale eventually and then see a survey like this. Although, as you say, old houses may inevitably throw up all this type of stuff. There's certainly no indication that there's anything dangerous or in imminent danger of falling down.
    We wouldn't say no to her of course, she's welcome to send a builder. I might well do the same in her case.
    I'm just worried that she's nervy, and having not even established that her own house is leasehold, perhaps be the kind of person to be taken in by an acquisitive builder.
    I haven't been through this before and, being so keen to move for a number of external reasons, I'm possibly being a bit pessimistic.

    Thanks again for the reassurance. I did wonder if people had ever gone to the length of getting an alternative survey.

    Thank you.
    • Mrs36
    • By Mrs36 9th Mar 17, 8:23 PM
    • 110 Posts
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    Mrs36
    • #6
    • 9th Mar 17, 8:23 PM
    • #6
    • 9th Mar 17, 8:23 PM
    I wouldn't get an alternative survey, what would be the point? Each survey at the end of the day is only the opinion of a surveyor (although backed up by measurements/photos etc), so what would be different?

    Why has your property been on the market for so long, out of interest?
    • Frayed nerves
    • By Frayed nerves 9th Mar 17, 8:44 PM
    • 8 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    Frayed nerves
    • #7
    • 9th Mar 17, 8:44 PM
    • #7
    • 9th Mar 17, 8:44 PM
    Thanks cakeguts. We feel she's already getting a very good price.

    Mrs36 - we initially went with a new local estate agent because they offered a good deal - as a new agent they didn't charge VAT and had an introductory offer. We soon found that we often couldn't get them to answer the phone and that the office would be closed - there was always another reason why. We felt that if we couldn't get a hold of them then prospective buyers couldn't either so after several months we moved to a mainstream agent who provided us with regular feedback and produced more viewings.
    We had several people who viewed and liked it but in the end went with something bigger/more modern/more parking etc. and on three or four occasions were told that the viewer hadn't liked having the family bathroom downstairs. Having spent considerable money on the house already we did not want to turn the master bedroom WC into a full on en suite although that could have been done in line with the potential large loft extension. We also have in our immediate vicinity a new build development which offered first time buyers and young families, the kind who may be interested in our house, all sorts of incentives to buy a brand new house. Why buy a 100 year old terrace when you can get a new detached or semi detached house as you like it? We do feel that the timing of these homes becoming available was highly detrimental to our sale. Our agent repeatedly said 'it just takes the right person' and that seemed to be the case with this lady. She liked older properties and could see the potential in the cellar and loft conversion. A lot of people do want something very modern given the number of new build type homes available.

    There were no photos in the survey by the way. Should there have been?

    I agree, much of what he says does seem to be opinion. I'll take on board what you said about each surveyor looking at things from their own perspective. I will be putting a meter in the cellar though because I cannot agree with his findings there at all. If there was moisture there would be no dust and our stored goods would suffer which they most certainly do not.

    I've calmed down a bit since the call and am trying to look at it as 'it's an older house, it will have this and that' and hope that she just maybe wants to get an estimate for bits and bobs. There's no comment on pulling out at the moment.

    I greatly appreciate all the feedback above - just a bag of nerves!
    • Mrs36
    • By Mrs36 9th Mar 17, 9:02 PM
    • 110 Posts
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    Mrs36
    • #8
    • 9th Mar 17, 9:02 PM
    • #8
    • 9th Mar 17, 9:02 PM
    If the property has on the market so long are you sure that the issue is with the competition as you say, rather than the price? I'm sure many people would choose an older house with character (myself included) rather than a new build box.

    I have only ever had structural surveys (based on the age of the properties I have purchased) and they have always had pictures. What type of survey did she have? I couldn't say whether a homebuyers report would have pictures, I guess it would depend on the surveyor.

    I honestly wouldn't read too much into the survey, moisture could mean condensation on a window, not necessarily a full damp problem. I would be surprised to find a period property that doesn't have any areas of damp to be honest, especially in a cellar type area!

    Just hold your nerve and be polite but firm, if she does ask for a reduction, you don't have to agree after all.

    ETA, Lidl currently have moisture meters in their special buys, if that is helpful.
    Last edited by Mrs36; 09-03-2017 at 9:04 PM.
    • Hoploz
    • By Hoploz 9th Mar 17, 9:52 PM
    • 3,529 Posts
    • 3,119 Thanks
    Hoploz
    • #9
    • 9th Mar 17, 9:52 PM
    • #9
    • 9th Mar 17, 9:52 PM
    Are you buying as well? You don't mention an upward chain. How much pressure are you under to go ahead with the sale ... this will affect whether you are more likely to take a hit to mve on, or just back out and remarket.

    I think if she is buying the freehold this is going to cause a delay.

    When she brings the builder along I think I might go round with them initially, pointing out things like 'the cellar is so good for storage - look, all these pictures remain in great condition so there's no damp!'

    You're lucky to have the heads up on the survey - at least you know what to address!
    • Lord Baltimore
    • By Lord Baltimore 10th Mar 17, 2:01 AM
    • 1,297 Posts
    • 1,286 Thanks
    Lord Baltimore
    Most people on this forum could write a survey for a period property without even attending: it will have some form of damp, its electrics might need upgrading, the chimney needs pointing, there are cracks in the wall/ceiling plaster and cornicing and there is woodchip wallpaper in at least one room. Yawn. That'll be £500 please...

    Do nothing. The ball is in the buyers' court.
    all your base are belong to us
    • Frayed nerves
    • By Frayed nerves 10th Mar 17, 8:24 AM
    • 8 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    Frayed nerves
    If the property has on the market so long are you sure that the issue is with the competition as you say, rather than the price?

    The property has always been within the valuation range and the input from several different estate agents over time (we kept checking) has been that it was fairly priced. I think we missed the boat a bit when it was fresh on the market tghanks to a muppet of an estate agent who often was unavailable! We invited several agents round to value and although the second agent we changed to used a strategy of a price range, i.e 'offers invited between', they were instructed to let people with interest know we were prepared to look at the lower end of that range. No-one ever said they liked it but it was too expensive though and tbh there never seemed to be any glaring reason why it didn't sell. We never really liked this range idea either so we asked them to change that to Offers Over in January - also on the advice of other agents who pooh poohed the range marketing strategy. We got two other estate agents to value in January for a fresh perspective and both still placed it at the middle of the range but we were keen to sell so were still prepared to consider the lower end.

    What type of survey did she have?

    She had a RCIS Home Buyer Report.

    ETA, Lidl currently have moisture meters in their special buys, if that is helpful.
    Originally posted by Mrs36
    Thanks for that. A friend who works at the Council and deals with applications to fit adaptations for disabled etc. checking the homes out for suitability in the process is lending me the meter they use and will come and do the readings himself.
    • Frayed nerves
    • By Frayed nerves 10th Mar 17, 8:37 AM
    • 8 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    Frayed nerves
    Are you buying as well? You don't mention an upward chain. How much pressure are you under to go ahead with the sale ... this will affect whether you are more likely to take a hit to mve on, or just back out and remarket.

    We are not in a chain. We are still viewing other properties and have a few favourites that we could go ahead with, also not in a chain, but we would look to move to another option we have to facilitate the sale.

    I think if she is buying the freehold this is going to cause a delay.

    Yes, that worries me too. She was presented as a cash buyer with a cash buyer. I can imagine that her buyer isn't going to be best pleased about that either as word from our Sales Progression person at the agents suggested that person was keen to move quickly.

    When she brings the builder along I think I might go round with them initially, pointing out things like 'the cellar is so good for storage - look, all these pictures remain in great condition so there's no damp!'

    I will, thanks. I did that with her and her family on both occasions when she came round and she saw for herself the nature of the stored stuff - there's so much of it that it was obvious it couldn't have just been there for a short time and as I said. some of it a bit dusty rather than damp.

    You're lucky to have the heads up on the survey - at least you know what to address!
    Originally posted by Hoploz
    I guess. It does give us something to work with if it all goes pear shaped but tbh we wouldn't re-plaster etc. The walls and ceilings are fine and if you start with replacing the old lathe and plaster ceilings which are in some of the rooms just because they're lathe and plaster then you'd have to do the lot! If it ain't broke don't fix it. We might put a proper floor in the cellar rather than the rough floor it is and do the chimney bricks now we know about them. Maybe get it re-wired and so on but we do kinda think that many of the things mentioned you'd expect to find in a house of this age - that the wiring wouldn't be modern etc. It's perfectly functional and safe and we have just been offered a Smart Meter for example without having to change anything or causing the person who looked at the bits to run screaming from the house.. The external electrics were all recently upgraded by Northern Powergrid.
    • Frayed nerves
    • By Frayed nerves 10th Mar 17, 9:00 AM
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    Frayed nerves
    Most people on this forum could write a survey for a period property without even attending: it will have some form of damp, its electrics might need upgrading, the chimney needs pointing, there are cracks in the wall/ceiling plaster and cornicing and there is woodchip wallpaper in at least one room. Yawn. That'll be £500 please...

    Do nothing. The ball is in the buyers' court.
    Originally posted by Lord Baltimore
    Thanks. Our friend from the Council also suggested that was the case. He reminded me that the surveyor had to be seen to justify what was probably quite a large fee and that he was working on the buyer's behalf. That it's their job to point out everything that may ever potentially be an issue. Something my other half referred to as an "a** covering exercise" in a fit of pique last night.
    We've spent a fair bit of money to bring the house EPC up, to make it as nice and fresh as it could possible be inside, from new bathroom suites to roof - we knew we might not recoup the cost completely but it improved the house for us while living in it and made it a more 'buyable' proposition when ready to market. So, much of what is discussed in the survey almost seems to us to be about the 'fabric' of the house, bit like mocking an old dog for no longer having quite such a shiny soft coat and arthritis!

    Anyway, there's been some very helpful comment and advice here and thanks to all for taking the time to respond. It is what it is, and the best advice I can take from the comments above is to accept that old houses will have that type of survey, that she was aware of things which would need replaced already or the condition of them e.g cellar, extension flat roof (sound but aged), bit of angle to floor in 1 room (the whole terrace has slight angle and has been like that for decades, mentioned as historic on survey 18 years ago and we told her about that and no mention of any movement or anything even remotely like that in the current survey), fractionally wonky doorways, lack of perpendiculars here and there, some creaky floorboards and steep stairs and so on. Further, we don't have to renegotiate, the price is what it is because she's seen the house twice (once with her son who works for a building company too!) and it's already incorporated an allowance for flat roof and garage door and cellar door; that she hasn't pulled out and that you could say the majority of these things about any house of that period.

    You're right, the ball's in her court. Fingers crossed!

    Note to self: Don't Panic!

    I'll let you know how it goes.
    • always_sunny
    • By always_sunny 10th Mar 17, 9:28 AM
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    always_sunny
    You need to take the emotions out of the equation; it's a business transaction.
    You have a good to sell (house); if the buyer wants a discount, they can ask but ultimately you can choose what to do.

    Assuming you're in England, till you exchange both of you could pull out no reasons asked and money invested (surveys, etc) is lost. That is the business of property buying in England so you need to prepared for it too.
    Expat with an EU passport
    • Frayed nerves
    • By Frayed nerves 10th Mar 17, 9:39 AM
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    Frayed nerves
    Agree. Difficult to do but probably necessary.

    Yes, we are in England and accept that there is a back out option for both parties - again, brutal but true. I need to consider this as a house not a home and simply look to market it well and extract the best deal. So far she's getting a good deal to allow us to move on to somewhere we'd rather be - just finding it trickier than I thought to encounter a potential obstacle at this stage after being so very happy to have 'sold'. But it is what it is.

    Time to buckle up and not be pessimistic.
    • MobileSaver
    • By MobileSaver 10th Mar 17, 9:54 AM
    • 1,186 Posts
    • 1,617 Thanks
    MobileSaver
    So far she's getting a good deal
    Originally posted by Frayed nerves
    If the buyer hasn't yet asked for a further discount then yes you are over-reacting! The bottom line is that if the buyer wants a perfect house with absolutely no problems then they really ought to be buying a new build and paying the appropriate premium for that.

    You simply need to stick to your guns and, if it comes to it, remind the buyer that the survey confirms "the property is worth what she's paying for it and is worth the given market value." To be brutally frank you would be foolish to even consider discounting the price any further on what you've told us so far.
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    • martindow
    • By martindow 10th Mar 17, 10:43 AM
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    martindow
    I'm sure I've read threads where people have suggested that moisture meters can give very unreliable results. Unless there is other evidence there may be no dampness problem.
    • Frayed nerves
    • By Frayed nerves 10th Mar 17, 7:43 PM
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    • 2 Thanks
    Frayed nerves
    Thanks folks for the two new replies above.

    Agreed, she hasn't asked for a reduction and has not intimated she's backing out - it may well be she simply wants a builder to quote for a couple of bits n bobs. Hold fast!

    Re the moisture meter - our friend came round with the moisture meter mentioned earlier and checked the cellar etc. His meter is very sensitive and reacts to your hand; the meter showed no problems at all throughout the house and what is considered acceptable for a cellar which is not floored i.e. at the very beginning of his yellow band indicator in the outer area of the cellar. He is accustomed to working in older houses as he approves and works on adaptations for the elderly and disabled and states categorically he can find no trace of damp (we concur) and that the surveyor is merely pointing to moisture content in areas like the cellar where it is obviously slightly higher. One thing he did absolutely refute was the surveyor's suggestion that the lintel above the cellar door was saturated (it does get rained on and it was raining the day he came) as his meter did not even beep at any point on the lintel - he suggests it would have been surface water only. He suggest the surveyor has been a tad over critical of a house this age; some of the comments being purely opinion rather than empirical fact. However he too says that despite picking up all the things you'd find in a house this age the survey still says it's worth the money so she doesn't really have much room to haggle.

    We have contacted the agent today following the OP which started this thread and she assures us that at this point there's no indication of backing out and the 'buyer' has not mentioned renegotiating the price. We also checked on the 'buyer's' freehold situation mentioned above and she is moving to address this asap - obviously HER buyer will be expecting this to be done asap as well as they were unaware the property was leasehold.

    Short version; we appear to still be on track and I will accompany her builder round when they arrange a time.

    Something worth mentioning perhaps for the benefit of others - our friend's meter is a fairly complex looking hand held job which you can place against or on a surface. He asked if the surveyor had a pronged moisture meter (looks a bit like a taser) and we said he did. He told us that he has known people take a reading against a wall with their fingers behind the meter and touching the prong thus affecting the reading, unknown to the onlooker. Interesting!
    • Mrs36
    • By Mrs36 10th Mar 17, 7:54 PM
    • 110 Posts
    • 203 Thanks
    Mrs36
    Surveyors are generally well known to be overcautious, mainly to cover their backs. I think they really have to think worst case scenario.

    I can't imagine any surveyor worth their salt behaving as your friends suggests is possible with the meter, what would be the point?

    Glad to hear that you have had reassurance from the EA though, and I hope your sale progresses with no further issues.
    • Patr100
    • By Patr100 22nd Aug 17, 8:35 PM
    • 1,336 Posts
    • 562 Thanks
    Patr100
    Something worth mentioning perhaps for the benefit of others - our friend's meter is a fairly complex looking hand held job which you can place against or on a surface. He asked if the surveyor had a pronged moisture meter (looks a bit like a taser) and we said he did. He told us that he has known people take a reading against a wall with their fingers behind the meter and touching the prong thus affecting the reading, unknown to the onlooker. Interesting!
    Old thread I know but to add, as I found it in a search and others might.. These meters are already fraudulent. They do not measure dampness. They only measure electrical conductivity. Hence a reading on your hand. They are thus useless for actually accurately finding or diagnosing dampness.
    ---I Shop Therefore I Am ---
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