It is what all homebuyers fear. You have found the property that you want to buy only to get a survey report that reads more like a horror story. You have three options; pull out, proceed at the agreed price and accept the problems or try and renegotiate. The later option should always be tried first.
Survey reports don’t always make the task of re-negotiating the price easy. For a start surveyors will some times produce a damning report but still value the property at what you are paying for it. Valuing a property is not an exact science so if a surveyor thinks that it is worth slightly less than you are paying he will probably just put it through at the agreed price as being close enough. “Close enough” means close enough to the true market value that the surveyor is unlikely to be sued should you end up getting re-possessed.
Homebuyers Reports do not provide any guidance on what it is likely to cost to put a defect right. As well as this surveyors will often recommend that further reports are required to establish the full extent of the problem so even after you get your survey report you will still have a lot of information to gather before you can put your case forward for a reduction.
On reading the report it is important to establish the difference between hidden defects and defects that should have been obvious, even to a layperson, when the property was viewed. You should also establish which defects are inherent in older properties. Talk to your surveyor if you require clarification. If there are genuine defects present that you could not have been aware of talk to your agent and establish if the Vendor would be willing to make an allowance in light of what has come to light.
Vendors will often remind the agent that they have already given you so many thousands off (a reference to the original price negotiation) but what is relevant here is whether they are prepared to make an allowance for the hidden defects. If the answer is a resounding “No” then you have a choice to make. There is little point in gathering estimates if the Vendor is not willing to make an allowance.
If the Vendor is willing to be reasonable start gathering information on the extent of the problem and the likely cost of putting it right. This is likely to involve commissioning follow-up reports or estimates from builders. Try and do this as quickly as possible so that the vendor doesn’t get frustrated and decide to re-market the property. If possible use tradesmen that are not affiliated with yourself or the Vendor (even if it does cost a little more) to ensure that they are beyond reproach. This should help with the resultant re-negotiation.
Once all the information is to hand tell your agent the basis on which you are prepared to proceed and be prepared to give a little as a vendor never likes to think that they are bearing the entire cost. If the work will substantially improve the property look to split the costs.