This is how I managed to knock money off my purchase price.
So here is a bit of background: I had an offer accepted on a house in the Hanover area of Brighton. I love it. My mum loves it. It feels warm and cosy and has wooden floors. Perfect! As the house offered vacant possession, they’d already had one sale fall through and we were approaching December (a slow month to sell a house), I put in a cheeky offer – stressing how keen I was to move in – which was quickly accepted.
And yes, this house needs a lot of love. It had previously sold, but the sale had fallen through at the Homebuyer’s Report stage (a bit of a red flag), so I had budgeted for some building works and a rewire. As my sale was going through, I thought I’d get some quotes for work in advance of my report, to see if I could use them to renegotiate the price with my vendor, and to speed through the sale.
I called my friendly electrician to come round to quote for a potential rewire. Eek. It appears a rewire is the least of my problems! When unscrewing the plug socket off the back wall, water trickled out, so the house might have a bit of a damp problem. Further inspection showed that the old window in the bathroom had been leaking down through the floorboards, down into the kitchen and behind the oven.
This means the walls of the kitchen and bathroom might need to come off. The kitchen and bathroom is dated, but I was prepared to live with it. Now they will need to be ripped out, and maybe the joists between the floors are rotten. Put this on top of a rewire, damp in the bedrooms, rotting windowsills, a boiler dating back to the 90s, plus a staircase that wouldn’t pass building regs… this house is looking like a money pit.
So before booking my Homebuyer’s Report, I called in the professionals. One of my builders charged me an admin fee (I paid £50), but he poked and prodded around and told me what is possible to change and how much that would cost. A good estate agent will be prepared for this. If the homeowner won’t let you come in, then take that as a warning.
I put my solicitor on hold (just in case) and before wasting money on a survey, I got two builders, a plumber and damp guy to inspect the property. Yes, it cost me time and money, and slowed down the sale, but it was so worth it. Knowing what is wrong with your home in detail before you buy is way better than buying your home in a rush and then discovering your home is falling apart.
It turned out the house needs about £20-35k spending on it. So I sat down at my laptop with these quotes and wrote a detailed letter of all the costs. I explained that in the current market, a house in this state would be at a far lower price. I explained that I couldn’t rent out a room as planned, losing income; that I had to replace the kitchen and bathroom straight away; that the heating needed sorting asap and the staircase didn’t meet building regs. All this was backed up with builders’ reports and my Homebuyer’s Report (I told my surveyor what my builders had found and he added more detail to his report).
This letter was non-emotional, factual and detailed. And I told her I wanted a £28K reduction on the purchase price. As they had one sale fall through, and the place was empty, the odds worked in my favour. It was a gamble – but at this stage if she wasn’t prepared to reduce the price, then I was happy to walk away.
The vendor met me halfway. The sale went through. I now own a very rundown little house. I don’t have £30K to do the place up, but who cares? I have my own front door and a roof to call my own.
Words: Maxine Brady, www.maxinebrady.com