House Survey Problems: Who Pays?

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House Survey Problems: Who Pays?
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Completing a house survey is one of the most critical stages when selling your property.

They examine all critical details about your house.

But when there are house survey problems, who pays for them?

What is a house survey?

A house survey is an inspection that aims to outline all of a house’s features and issues.

In most situations, a qualified surveyor will complete the house survey. It will look at things such as:

  • Property boundaries
  • Condition of the interior – such as doors, walls or windows
  • Condition of the exterior – such as the roof, driveway or patio
  • Potential legal issues, such as access rights or overgrown trees
  • Any areas where property extension might be possible

A house survey aims to give the buyer a comprehensive understanding of the property’s strengths and weaknesses.

Sometimes, if the survey reveals an issue the buyer was unaware of. This may result in a reduced-price offer or a withdrawal from the deal altogether.

How much does a house survey cost in 2024?

According to the latest figures, a house survey in the UK costs anywhere between £400 to £1,500.

This figure will vary depending on the size of your property and the complexity/depth of the survey.

Different survey levels will impact the cost. A simple survey outlines visible defects and the condition of the house.

In contrast, more complex ones can estimate repair costs, assess where extensions can be made, and more.

How long does a survey take on a house?

A house survey can be completed in a single day.

Depending on your property’s size and its efficiency, it can take 1 to 8 hours.

In the following days/weeks, your buyers should be presented with a summary of findings.

What are typical examples of house survey problems?

Surveyors often find issues with a property that a typical person may not notice.

However, a survey can save potential buyers thousands in the long term, which is why so many people decide that paying for one is a worthwhile investment.

Some of the most common examples of house survey issues include:

These are a few things that may crop up during a house survey.

Examples include unapproved extensions or alterations, woodworm, missing certification, or no carbon monoxide alarms.

A house survey on your property may reveal issues you were unaware of.

You should be willing to compromise on price if there are significant problems.

What to do if there are problems with your house survey

Once the surveyor provides your buyers with a report on your property, you should discuss the key findings.

If the report flags something that needs further investigation, the surveyor should be able to explain what they mean and recommend what to do next. This applies to major and minor issues.

It is generally advisable that you cooperate with any issues that the survey reveals. If your potential buyers have already made a price offer, they may want to reduce this depending on the findings.

The seller is generally expected to alert the buyers to any issues before the survey. Otherwise, the potential buyers may be angry – even to the point of pulling out of the house sale.

While deciding whether to negotiate on price is yours, it is natural for your buyers to reduce their offer if the survey has revealed unexpected problems.

If you are sceptical about some of the results, consider getting a second opinion.

This might be worthwhile if you need a specialist’s perspective.

For example, hiring a heating engineer to examine the boiler or bringing in a roofing expert to inspect the property’s exterior in closer detail. 

Your buyers may ask you to fix any problems flagged up before the sale proceeds. It is up to you whether you want to do this or whether you will compromise on price instead.

Some sellers may offer to pay for the buyer’s survey report as a gesture of good faith to apologise for the unexpected findings.

After all, maintaining a positive relationship with potential buyers is in your interest.

How long can house survey problems delay a sale?

If your house survey doesn’t bring up any problems, it will usually not impact the time it takes for your transaction to complete.

On the other hand, the delay in your property sale could depend on the severity of problems that the survey flags up.

For example, suppose it is revealed that you did not have planning permission for one of your extensions.

This can open up various legal questions and problems your buyers will want to investigate before completing.

Similarly, house survey problems usually trigger a price renegotiation, and your/your buyer’s willingness to compromise will also impact the time it takes.

Sometimes, it could delay the sale by several weeks or even months, but if no significant problems are flagged, it could have no impact.

Will house survey problems cost me money?

House survey problems will likely cost you money in one way or another when selling your property.

Your buyers may request that you fix issues with the house before proceeding with the sale, increasing the costs associated with the sale.

On the other hand, your buyers may be willing to buy the property in its current condition but instead request that you reduce the selling price.

In this scenario, you will lose money (and therefore profit) from the final sale amount.

In addition to financial problems, unforeseen issues revealed by a survey can damage your relationship with the potential buyer. It may even cause them to back out of the sale altogether.

This situation would similarly cost you money because:

  • You would be forced to find a new buyer
  • Which could increase your conveyancing costs
  • Cause you to continue paying bills for longer
  • Cause other associated expenses.

What happens if my buyer drops out?

You have a few critical options if your potential buyer drops out of the deal due to the house survey findings.

Firstly, you could search for another buyer on the open market. However, this usually delays your timeframe and could cause your property chain to collapse.

You may also incur additional costs related to conveyancing, bills, or otherwise.

Should a chartered surveyor complete a house survey?

It is highly recommended that you complete your property survey with the help of an RICS chartered surveyor.

However, since the potential buyer pays for the survey, it is usually up to them to select the surveyor.

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