/ house buying...advice needed

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Kimono - on 21 May 2013
About to buy my first house so both excited and a little anxious!

Have seen somewhere i like. Went on the market jan 2012 at £120,000.
Dropped to £110 in may. Sale nearly agreed later in 2012 but fell through for 'personal' reasons on the buyers behalf.
Still on at 110, with tenants in.

I am a cash buyer, so no chain, no mortgage.
What do i offer.....98?? and hope to settle around 102?

Advice gratefully received.

Second thing....surveys.
Is it actually worth doing a survey? Have had some advice that, unless you do a very costly 'super-survey' then its hardly worth it.
True? Does it give you some legal power if subsequently problems are found??

Again, thanks on advance
In reply to kieran b:

Surveys don't give you any legal power in subsequent problems but totally worth doing so you know what you are letting yourself in for, for example condition of roof etc and also mean you can negoiate more on price when the survey arrives if there is something major.

Yep, I'd start at £97/98k
IainRUK - on 21 May 2013
In reply to kieran b: Depends..

They have tennants in so they may not need to sell unless for the right price.

We are selling ours now and told the estate agent thats the price, end of discussion.. and they let the buyers know.

Anything less and it could have been rented out.

If no mortgage you don't have to have a survey.. I'd have one done but once the price is finalised then thats it. An old house will have issues to resolve. Unless something came up which couldn't be reasonably expected.

Kimono - on 21 May 2013
In reply to ivebittenoffmorethanicanstu:
Ok, thanks for that.
But the question is, do 'normal' surveys actually find issues? Are they at all rigorous? Or do they just have a quick look at the roof and say, 'looks ok from down here'!

What is your experience of surveys?
In reply to IainRUK:

I don't think that's true Iain, if you've agreed on £100k for example, have the survey done and then the roof needs £5k spent on it you're quite within your rights to change your offer and / or walk away, I did that with my first offer.
Kimono - on 21 May 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
So, no room for negotiation then Iain? Asking price or nothing?
IainRUK - on 21 May 2013
In reply to kieran b: I've only had one done and that was to move into a 100 year old house.. the windows didn't shut any more, it was single glazing, the day light was visible through the roof, the floor was concrete, plasta was blowing off the wall.

We got the survey back and it listed all the stuff but we'd offered 110 knowing the state of the house as it was clearly visible so we had no grounds to negotiate.
In reply to kieran b:

Surveys always look scary when you get them back. The first survey I had back bought up an issue with the chimney stack which had an estimated cost of £5k, I asked for a reduction in price, the owner declined and I walked away from the deal.

Conversely on my current house I had a full survey done and there were drainage issues that weren't spotted but then again the surveyor wouldn't have spotted it without taking a wall down. Also they cover themselves by saying if they can't get to somewhere ie attic they don't have to look.
IainRUK - on 21 May 2013
In reply to ivebittenoffmorethanicanstu:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
>
> I don't think that's true Iain, if you've agreed on £100k for example, have the survey done and then the roof needs £5k spent on it you're quite within your rights to change your offer and / or walk away, I did that with my first offer.

It depends how obvious that is. Our roof was lined with the old lime, which was falling off.. no insulation.. day light visible. A new roof was obvious.
IainRUK - on 21 May 2013
In reply to kieran b: It depends on what comes up. If say unseen wood warm, damp issues, stuff you didn't know about then yes, negotiate.

With ours it was clear what was needed. I'd have felt a fraud going in saying 'oh the windows need replacing'.. as they clearly no longer shut the wood was so swollen.

Kimono - on 21 May 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
That seems fair enough.
This place however seems in good shape...its a ;little terraced victorian house in Llangollen.
They are not admitting to any known problems, so it may need a fairly thorough survey to come up with anything
Owen Meany on 21 May 2013
In reply to kieran b:

> Is it actually worth doing a survey? Have had some advice that, unless you do a very costly 'super-survey' then its hardly worth it.

If you are a cash buyer, you don't need to have a survey done (they're usually a condition of a mortgage though).

We bought a renovation project last year (similar situation - cash buyers as we'd remortgaged our current house to raise the cash) and rather than having the standard mortgage-related surveys we found a local structural surveyor who was familiar with the property type to come with us on a viewing to give us an opinion. We then got a good local builder to view the house and give us a quote for the work that needed doing. Having these two views was far more valuable than having the sort of House Buyers Report we've had done previously for mortgage purposes.

It meant that we went into the purchase with a clear idea of the problems and the costs involved and could pitch our offer accordingly.

Most typical surveys have so many caveats that even if the place crumbled around your ankles the moment you set foot through the door, you wouldn't be able to make a claim!

OM
teflonpete - on 21 May 2013
In reply to kieran b:

In my experience, a mortgage company will make a 'valuation survey' part of a mortgage offer. This is fairly basic and will tell you if there is something that needs doing urgently. It rarely tells you anything that you couldn't spot yourself but it tells the guy in the office at the mortgage company whether they'd get their money back without having to rebuild the house if they repossessed it.

A full structural survey should tell you stuff you might not spot as a layman but it will also be littered with caveats, is no guarantee of anything and will cost quite a lot of money.

A Mr Rushby of this parish can probably tell you a whole lot more about surveys.

As for negotiating the price, depends on the dwelling, location, local market etc. If the place has been on the market a while then try going in at 10% less than asking price but be prepared either to up your offer if you want it or walk away if the buyer won't drop. I secured a buyer for my place last week after the house had been on the market for 24 hours. They offered 2% under the asking price and I turned it down. They upped their offer by £3k within the hour and I accepted. A mate of mine in the next town has just sold his place after 2 weeks on the market for near enough the asking price. It really does depend on the area and how long the place has been on the market for. All I'll say is be sure that you really do want the place if you're going to offer on it.
Kimono - on 21 May 2013
In reply to teflonpete:
Yes, im beginning to think it is either a full structural survey, or nothing.

The agents did tell me that there was a person who pulled out of a sale last year , for some indeterminate personal reasons apparently.
It is quite possible that they did a survey as i believe the sale was quite advanced before they pulled out.
Do you think the agents would tell me the results of that survey?
Owen Meany on 21 May 2013
In reply to kieran b:

> It is quite possible that they did a survey as i believe the sale was quite advanced before they pulled out.
> Do you think the agents would tell me the results of that survey?

Ask them - the worst they can say is no.

When we bought our house in York years ago the agent mentioned that it had previously had a structural report on a bloody obvious crack in the hallway. The seller had a copy of this and was more than happy to share it as they had nothing to hide.

Obviously we couldn't then rely on that survey (as in make any claim against the surveyor if they'd got something wrong), but it was enough to help us make a decision to proceed.

OM
teflonpete - on 21 May 2013
In reply to kieran b:
> (In reply to teflonpete)
> Yes, im beginning to think it is either a full structural survey, or nothing.
>
> The agents did tell me that there was a person who pulled out of a sale last year , for some indeterminate personal reasons apparently.
> It is quite possible that they did a survey as i believe the sale was quite advanced before they pulled out.
> Do you think the agents would tell me the results of that survey?

Buyers pull out for all sorts of reasons, I wouldn't necessarily expect it was because of the survey results. As Owen says, it's worth asking the agents, the worst they can say is no, although it's quite likely that they weren't privvy to the results of any surveys done or haven't kept them on file even if they were.
Nevis-the-cat - on 21 May 2013
In reply to teflonpete:

Pretty much spot on.

The mortgage valuation is in reality to check you are buying a house, the house you put on your application and are not going to nip off to Djibouti with Natlaysmidloyd's £110 grand.

A Homebuyers report is a more detailed, though you need to be aware it is prepared by a General Practice surveyor who is primarily a valuer, but will also spot and highlight any items such as rotten timbers, damp, failure of a DPC, movement.

A building / structural survey is done by a Building Surveyor and it is focused entirely on the building fabric. These are more expensive but they will be thorough and will be robust so if it spots a £5k job necessary to remdiate a chimney breast problem you can really hit the vendor around the head with it. They are also much less caveated so if the surveyor gets it wrong you can first go to the RICS and failing that get the lawyers in.

I'm not in a resi market but I did get a building survey on my last house as it had had a chimley breast removed and given the age of it i wanted to know if it was stable.

Now, if you want to buy a 350 berth marina on the south coast then I'm your cat......
Nick Harvey - on 21 May 2013
In reply to Nevis-the-cat: We had a full survey done last year through oour mortgage provider. First thing i would say, is if i were to do it again i would pay for the mortgage valuation and then get a separate private survey done.

Ours cost £1k and was crap – didn’t inspect things they couldn’t see (you’d thing they would bring a ladder), missed two cases of damp that were easily solvable but caused by obvious cases of water ingress. They commented on how close local amenities were – really useful, cos that wasn’t at all obvious. The one issue we wanted examining closely (subsidence) they basically asked the owners about and didn’t do much more. I think if this was done not through the bank we would have had more control over the report and directing them to look as specific things.

Become a house surveyor – money for old rope!
John Stainforth - on 21 May 2013
In reply to kieran b:

I looked at 60 houses, put in offers on 3, and had full surveys done on all 3. These surveys revealed serious problems in each case requiring work in the 10,000's. As a result all three houses fell through. I think full surveys are well worth the money.

Seriously think of renting until you are absolutely sure about buying. Rents in the UK are very cheap relative to houses prices; "rent ratios" around 40 are common.
Kimono - on 21 May 2013
In reply to John Stainforth:
Thanks John....first bit of advice useful.

Second, less so :)
EeeByGum - on 21 May 2013
In reply to John Stainforth:

> Seriously think of renting until you are absolutely sure about buying. Rents in the UK are very cheap relative to houses prices; "rent ratios" around 40 are common.

Doesn't that depend where you are looking? You could certainly rent my house for the same price as a mortgage.
teflonpete - on 21 May 2013
In reply to EeeByGum:
> (In reply to John Stainforth)
>
> [...]
>
> Doesn't that depend where you are looking? You could certainly rent my house for the same price as a mortgage.


Hmm, granted I bought my last house 16 years ago and carried the equity through to this place but I'm looking at being able to rent a 2 bed flat on a shite estate for what my mortgage on a 3 bed semi in the country is costing me.
ex0 - on 21 May 2013
In reply to kieran b:

Get a standard -independant- survey done, as others have said it's worth the cost.

As far as legal power, no. The results of the survey won't interest your solicitor. I can't count the number of times we've been given copies of surveys and have chucked them to the back of the file to never be seen again. The survey will give you some position to negotiate price reductions (solicitors call these 'allowances') through the estate agents or direct with the vendor if you're in contact with them based on any problems that arise in the survey, that's pretty much all.

Since you're not getting a mortgage you have the option of not getting a local search. a LS will reveal stuff like 'if there was an extension, was building and planning permission applied for' or 'if there was extensive rewiring - say for a kitchen - when was the electrical certificate drawn up', and a host of other things like this. LS costs are usually about £80 and can be quite useful if you're not well aware of the area the property is in.

Btw, if your survey says there's 2k worth of repairs needed for the roof or something and the vendor refuses to allow for this or to reduce the price you may want to try offering to pay for a percentage of the repair costs. Suggest that you split the costs 50/50 and see how you get on from there.. I've seen it work in the past.

Hope that helps.

IainRUK - on 21 May 2013
In reply to ex0:
> (In reply to kieran b)
>
>
> Btw, if your survey says there's 2k worth of repairs needed for the roof or something and the vendor refuses to allow for this or to reduce the price you may want to try offering to pay for a percentage of the repair costs. Suggest that you split the costs 50/50 and see how you get on from there.. I've seen it work in the past.
>
> Hope that helps.

If you are buying 100 year old house.. I presume this is an old terrace.. you expect some work, so anything clearly apparent should be considered during the bidding process..

I bought mine in competition with 7 other couples, we all bid the asking price. To then haggle afterwards would have been wrong, it was clear the house was essentially a shell which needed significant investment.

MG - on 21 May 2013
In reply to kieran b: Three house purchases. Two valuations, one one level up survey. All missed significant problems. Conclusion, get cheapest possible for mortgage, or full survey, if you believe it will be more reliable - I have my doubts.
doz generale - on 21 May 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to ex0)
> [...]
>
> If you are buying 100 year old house.. I presume this is an old terrace.. you expect some work, so anything clearly apparent should be considered during the bidding process..
>
> I bought mine in competition with 7 other couples, we all bid the asking price. To then haggle afterwards would have been wrong, it was clear the house was essentially a shell which needed significant investment.

Depends on the market. when prices are going up and lenders are lending then houses tend to go for asking price regardless but in times where prices are falling and it's hard getting finance then expect to have to negotiate over anything a survey throws up.

ex0 - on 21 May 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

I only skimmed, but I didn't notice the OP say he was buying a century old shell. His original post was what I was going on.
IainRUK - on 22 May 2013
In reply to ex0: I'm not sure.. just a terraced house.. which at 110? will be in decent shape.. but don't know that specific market..

In North Wales proper 125 is the upper limit for a 2 bedroom terrace.. but down to 90 ish depending on area or condition.. if in liveable nick..
ex0 - on 22 May 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

£110k would get you anything from a spacious 2bed flat to a 3bed semi with garden in my area. You can get a 2 or 3 bed detatched for 50k, one that's been modernised for 70-80-90k. I'm in Wallasey.
ex0 - on 22 May 2013
In reply to ex0:

Er, that's 2 or 3 bed terrace**
alasdair19 on 22 May 2013
In reply to kieran b: make an offer contingent on survey, 98 sounds good starting point. Take a step ladder and torch and really examine the place yourself. House price paid is in the public domain about 12 weeks after sale. Do a search and you can.see.what comparable properties went.for. where are you buying? At that price point in Sheffield its definitely a buyers market.
gethin_allen on 22 May 2013
In reply to kieran b:
I asked this question a while back before buying my first place.
I called a surveyor and a partner of a quite large surveyors firm told me that I probably didn't need one and If I had perticular concerns i should contact a specialist eg. structural engineer.

The house is a 1902 2 bed mid terrace. I had a couple of viewings and had a really good poke about, inspected the roof inside and out, etc.

In the end I didn't get a survey and so far I haven't regretted this choice.

I knew that the chimneys were dodgy, I knew the flashing had gone on part of the roof, I knew that there were cracks in certain places, I knew the boiler was old and I knew that if I had got a general survey they would have just told to get a specialist structural survey and get the boiler checked by a corgi/gas safe person.

In pulling the place apart for refurbishment I have found a few worrying things, but these were things like woodworm in the bathroom floor and really dubious wiring in the kitchen. In these cases the surveyor wouldn't have found or flagged up anything because they wouldn't have lifted the bathroom floor and wouldn't have pulled the wood cladding off the kitchen walls. And anyhow, the electrics had supposedly been checked and signed off.

No harm in making a low offer, they may say yes, they may make a counter-offer or they may just say no. Either way it doesn't cost you anything and you gain info about the seller.
I offered £77k on a house listed at £90k, they came back and asked for £85k, I told them there was no way on earth I'd go above £80k. I left it with them with a warning that I was close to making an offer on another place and they got back to me the next day accepting £80k.
Kimono - on 24 May 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to kieran b) Depends..

>
> If no mortgage you don't have to have a survey.. I'd have one done but once the price is finalised then thats it. An old house will have issues to resolve. Unless something came up which couldn't be reasonably expected.

Thanks for all the advice so far.
Im still very keen on the place but the question im now facing is....

Do i negotiate a price first and then make an offer?
As Iain says, though not impossible to renegogiate if the survey comes up with stuff, it is a little tricky, i imagine, once you've agreed on a final price.

Or get the survey done before making an offer?
This however may make it seem that having forked out for a survey, im in a less good position to bargain.

Hmm....any views?

Dax H - on 24 May 2013
In reply to kieran b: Make your offer then if the survey comes back with problems make a new offer based on the findings and how much you want the place.
I just bought a workshop that was up for 175k, I offered 155 and we settled on 165.
the survey came back with a few problems and a max value of 130 but the vendor could not afford to sell it for that.
In the end we settled for my original offer of 155. I know I paid over the odds but the extra 20k is more than offset by the fact it took me 5 years to find the right place and it's less than a mile from my house.
Nevis-the-cat - on 24 May 2013
In reply to kieran b:

Just make the offer "subject to Survey"

Then the agent (and his client) will know you may renegotiate if anything is revealed form the survey. You don't have to be explicit in the offer, but it just makes it easier for you to come back and reduce the price rather than be seen to be chipping.

If an agent does not properly advise his client what Subject to Survey means then they need to get another job.
Followmearound on 24 May 2013
In reply to kieran b:

You should be able to offer subject to survey. In my opinion as a surveyor it would be worth getting a survey. If it comes up with major issues then you could try and renegociate the sale price taking into account the cost to rectify the issues raised.
In reply to kieran b:

I'm on my 3rd house now and each time it's been put in an offer, dependent on the survey I have either change my offer or left it at that price, then bought the house. There is nothing to stop you re negotiating once the survey has been done.
Turdus torquatus on 24 May 2013
In reply to kieran b:

Whatever you decide about surveys, I think you can find out plenty for yourself that a surveyor might miss if you have a thorough look around using a checklist. Especially if it involves moving furniture, turning taps on, switching the heating on, accessing the loft, visiting whilst the neighbours are having a disco etc.
Kimono - on 24 May 2013
In reply to kieran b:
Ok, i think you've all given me the answer i needed there....thank you!!

And TT, you're right, i will go for a good nosey next week before making my offer.
Anything else you might add to that list??
Trangia - on 24 May 2013
In reply to kieran b:

As others have said don't be scared to bargain, and get a survey, but chose a surveyor you can talk to first so that you can a) tell them what concerns you most and b) find out exactly what they are going to do.

Find out in advance what is included or excluded. That way you can't moan afterwards about bits that are excluded. I suspect a lot of those who complain that "surveys are not worth the paper they are printed on" either failed to establish in advance what they were getting or failed to read the surveyor's terms and conditions properly.

By law surveyors must disclose their terms and conditions to you in advance of entering into the contract with them, so those who moan afterwards have only themselves to blame if they are subsequently disatisfied with the depth of the report.
dycotiles - on 24 May 2013
In reply to kieran b:

All I can say it is always an issue when a property has been on the market for so long, specially when it is going for such a low price. Double check everything.
Nevis-the-cat - on 24 May 2013
In reply to kieran b:

If the curx is a building survey then make sure you use a building surveyor and not a valuation surveyor - there is a big differance.
Kimono - on 24 May 2013
In reply to dycotiles:
Yes, I am aware it's been on the market for a while but cheap it is not.
Certainly not for the size it is and the location
MG - on 24 May 2013
In reply to Trangia:

> By law surveyors must disclose their terms and conditions to you in advance of entering into the contract with them, so those who moan afterwards have only themselves to blame if they are subsequently disatisfied with the depth of the report.

Maybe, legally.

But I think surveyors massively oversell what they can do in publicity blurb and prey on people's (legitimate) concerns about spending £100sk on a house. Also the fees don't match what you get. From memory I paid £600 for a homebuyers report that missed obvious things like outdated electrics. That price must be nearly a full day's work and had I spent that time myself looking over the house in detail, I would have learnt a lot more.

On another occasion a valuation survey missed a serious structural problem (wall out of true), that would have had a massive impact on the value if known about. Since I sold the house with no mention of this, I assume the new buyer's surveyor also missed it.
Trangia - on 24 May 2013
In reply to MG:

On the bare bones of what you have told me i think you would have had a legitimate claim against a surveyor for failing to comment on dated electrics in a Homebuyer Survey.

Equally a formal Valuation should not have missed something as obvious as an out of true wall.

BTW I am a retired Chartered Surveyor with over 40 years experience of all types of survbey, and spent much of my career acting as an expert witness in surveyor negligence cases.

There is never any excuse for sloppy work and reporting.
MG - on 24 May 2013
In reply to Trangia: There are also a lot of important things that can't be picked up, even in principle. Concealed (dry, aghhhh!) rot for example, which means that even if a surveyor is diligent, it doesn't give me that much confidence that a house is "safe" to buy. At best it will reduce the uncertainty and perhaps give me a bargaining chip on price. This is rather less than suggested by surveyors and their associations.
Trangia - on 24 May 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to Trangia) There are also a lot of important things that can't be picked up, even in principle. Concealed (dry, aghhhh!) rot for example, which means that even if a surveyor is diligent, it doesn't give me that much confidence that a house is "safe" to buy. At best it will reduce the uncertainty and perhaps give me a bargaining chip on price. This is rather less than suggested by surveyors and their associations.

That's true to an extent, but an experienced surveyor will often pick up the conditions that may give rise to say dry rot - ie dampness in walls, lack of subfloor ventilation, high exterior ground levels, defective guttering, abnormal floor bounce/give under carpets etc etc, and recommend more extensive investigation, which may mean damaging opening up. Ye, occasionally it will be impossible to detect from a initial survey, but sloppy surveyors can miss the signs.

Rather like chosing a surgeon it's useful to know just how experienced your surveyor is and how many surveys he/she may be doing on a regular basis. Generally a surveyor who does both full building surveys as well as homebuyer surveys is likely to be more competent than one who says they only do homebuyer surveys. Personally I never regarded the depth of prliminary investigation to be any different and I believe the surveyor should be competent in both, the later was just a more concise report and more likely to recommend further highlighted investigations - eg your dated electrical wiring .


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