What to do if you receive a poor survey on a property purchase

2 min Read Published: 01 Jul 2014

What to do if you receive a poor survey on a property purchase

What to do if you receive a poor survey on a property purchaseIf you are planning to purchase a property it is advisable not to do so without instructing a survey on the property. If you are purchasing the property with a mortgage a survey will be mandatory in securing the necessary funds.

Everybody hopes that the survey on their prospective new home will come back with a clean bill of health, but what should you do if it doesn't? Here I analyse your options and try and clarify the situation regarding surveys.

Keep calm

  • On receipt of an adverse survey your initial reaction may be to walk away from the sale but this may not be your best option, just stay calm and think through your options clearly.

Seek clarification

  • Property surveys can often be confusing so seek full clarification on what the highlighted issues are before you make a decision
  • If you have instructed the survey directly, rather than a lender instructing it on your behalf, then you can seek clarification directly with the surveyor.
  • Otherwise, one of the best people to speak to would be the estate agent who is selling the property in question
  • Estate agents are dealing with property surveys on a daily basis so are fully conversant with all the nuances of survey reports and can provide expert guidance

Understand the issues

  • Once you are fully clear on the the survey report contents you can start to look at the issues raised
  • Issues may be categorised  as either 'action needed or 'recommended', this will highlight issues that may hold up a mortgage offer, and have to be resolved now, against issues that can be dealt with once you have moved into the property

Understand the costs involved

  • Once you understand the nature of the work  you can start to ascertain the costs involved
  • You can obtain your own quotes regarding the cost of work yourself  or again speak to your estate agent
  • Estate agents can often give a good estimate of the costs involved with much of the common work highlighted by surveys

Talk to the seller

  • Once you have a full understanding regarding the facts and figures then you need to involve the seller to seek their view on the issue
  • If the surveyor has down-valued the property then you should expect a price reduction from the seller
  • Don't just assume that the seller will reduce the property price in all instances, as often the work noted in the survey is typical work required on a property of that age and condition, and may already be reflected in the price
  • If the survey has revealed something functionally wrong with the property, such as central heating not working, then a price reduction should be expected
  • I suggest that negotiations with the seller should be carried out through your estate agent to keep everything on a professional level and reduce the chance of friction between both parties
  • A typical outcome from these discussions is that both parties agree to pay an element of the cost involved in the 'action needed' issues

Ditch it or fix it

  • Now it's decision time, do you complete the sale or walk away?
  • Make sure that any decision you make involves both your head and your heart
  • Decide whether any costs involved in fixing the problem is money well spent
  • Don't forget no property is perfect, even new ones, so don't get too put off by any negative comments in a property survey


(Image: Stuart MIles)