I’ve recently been involved with a house sale which went absolutely swimmingly (full asking price offer received just 48 hours after it went on the market!) but things hit a hiccup when the buyer got her survey back.
DOOM AND GLOOM THE ROOF IS ABOUT TO CAVE IN!!!
No, of course it isn’t, but that’s what the buyer now thinks. And she’s also got very upset about the polystyrene ceiling tiles in the smallest bedroom, highlighting that they are ILLEGAL! She wants a huge £20k knocked off the price to allow for these and a couple of other minor issues.
Now when you’ve been involved in property for a while and bought and sold more than a couple of houses, you get the experience that allows you to understand how to read a surveyor’s report.
You appreciate that they have to list everything that could be a concern, and learn to skim over sentences such as “the roof is showing signs of nail fatigue and will eventually need a full replacement.” Well of course it will eventually need replacing, as will every other roof in the entire world!!!!!!
But a lot of people don’t have this experience, and they respond with panic, convinced that the house they love and want to live in will cost them thousands just to keep it dry in a drizzle.
The seller also goes into a panic, thinking that they’ll either have to drop thousands off the price or lose the buyer.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. If this happens to you as a seller, get all of the panic out of your system, have a good cry or a rant, whatever your style might be, and then focus.
- What is the buyer concerned about?
- How could you remove that concern?
Address these questions for each of the items the buyer has brought up as a reason for the price to be dropped, and think about what you can reasonably do to remove the objection before you hastily throw thousands of pounds away.
In this case, the roof and the polystyrene ceiling tiles were two of the objections, so here’s how I would deal with them.
- Highlight to the buyer that the surveyor found no evidence of damp, therefore the roof is not currently leaking and has not leaked in the recent past
- Offer to get any slipped or broken tiles or flashing fixed, at the seller’s expense and to the buyer’s surveyor’s satisfaction, between exchange and completion
This strategy addresses the real concern – that the roof is going to leak – and is a far cheaper option than agreeing to drop the price by the minimum £5,000 that would be required to placate the buyer. You’ve always then got the option of offering to replace the roof yourself if the buyer doesn’t go for the fix option (after exchange of course), because getting it done yourself will be cheaper than the amount you’ll have to drop the price by for the seller to take care of it (which they won’t, not for a few years at least, they just want money off the price!!).
Polystyrene ceiling tiles
- Remove them and if necessary, get the ceiling skimmed before re-decorating, at the seller’s expense
- I would do this now, regardless of exchange, as it’s a small job and will help with re-sale to any buyer
Again, doing the work yourself (or getting a quality tradesperson in to do it) is always going to be cheaper than knocking money off the price, because of the proportions. To make any real difference to the buyer you’ll be knocking thousands off, but to get the work done yourself will cost only hundreds and also carries the added benefit of removing any hassle for the buyer, which along with money is the thing they’re most concerned with.
All in all, the main thing to do when faced with potential renegotiation is to stay calm, sleep on it before responding and think about things from the other person’s point of view as well as your own.
- What are they really concerned about?
- How could you alleviate their concern without losing thousands off your price?
- Don’t think that you have to agree to whatever they’re asking – it’s a negotiation, and a successful negotiation means you meet somewhere in the middle
- Stay polite and gracious at all times – aggravating a buyer is never a good idea!
Your estate agent is there to help you in times of negotiation, so call on them for assistance and address any correspondence with the buyer through your agent. Good luck!