Wednesday, 11 July 2012

House sale fell through 2012

If you haven't been living under a rock over the last 4 years or so then I probably don't need to tell you that selling your home in Ireland  has been extremely difficult. I knew that it would be a little challenging when I decided to sell my house but the reality was that I was not prepared for it at all.  For the purpose of this post I'm going to skip a lot of the early details.

The Story
My house went on the market in July 2011 and finally went Sale Agreed in May 2012 at a much lower price than I originally wanted but at a price that I was willing to live with. The purchasers engineer came out after about 3-4 weeks and carried out a 2 1/2 hour survey.  Before he left he told me that he found nothing untoward with the property (he probably shouldn't have told me this but I appreciated the information).  This was the stage that I was most worried about because a bad engineers report can destroy a sale. 

A few weeks went by and the sale was progressing as far as I knew. I was busy emptying the house whenever I got a chance and I had just arranged for a van for the next Saturday (2 weeks prior to handover) to remove all the remaining bulky stuff so that I would be ready for the closing date of sale. A phone call from the auctioneer completely ruined my plans.  The buyers had changed their mind and would not be going ahead with the sale.  Frantic last minute efforts from myself, my solicitor and the auctioneer failed to get the sale back on track. 

I completely understand that buyers are quite entitled to change their minds at any time during a sale but it's a pity because now I had lost 2 months of viewings as well as losing the sale of the house.  The house is back on the market again and I've had 3 viewings in a week. Fingers crossed for the future.

I have some general tips for people loosely based on my own experiences so that you can avoid the same thing happening to you.  I compiled them from various conversations with Engineers and Auctioneers.  I'm assuming that you have already done the basics but may not be aware of the following.

1) Arrange for an engineer to do a dry run of your property as if he was doing a survey for a client.
Yes it will cost you money and the purchaser will do their own survey but you will be aware of any issues well in advance and you have time to correct them or make the auctioneer know that there's an issue.  The buyer will then know from the outset and won't panic after the engineers report.

2) If you have an attic conversion you should get your own engineer to advise you on whether it's just for storage or can be classified as habitable. You may have to consider blocking this up completely if it doesn't comply with building and fire regulations.  Make sure the Auctioneer knows the Engineers advise.

3) Go over the auctioneers brochure description of your house and make sure that it describes your house without embellishment and goes along with your engineers advise.

4) Make sure the auctioneer is selling the house based on your newly advised instructions.

The Engineers Survey Report

Having dealt with many engineers on building sites over the years I am no stranger to Snag Lists and how cold and dry they can be. A house survey pre-contract signing is much the same as a snag list for a new build except the faults on the survey do not necessarily have to be put right by the vendor.

If you are buying a house and the engineers survey has frightened you into thinking that the house you are buying is ready to collapse and the advised repairs have you thinking about running away, STOP!
The language used is typical of their occupation and is supposed to be that way.  The advised repairs may seem colossal when read in the report but why not look around your present accommodations and see can you spot similar items.  Ask someone in the building trades to explain in layman's terms what the issues mean and what are the solutions. Remember, it can take years to make a house your home so you have plenty of time to make changes.  All you need to worry about is what extra work you need to do before you can occupy the new house.

My opinion
The most important thing you need an engineer for is to make sure the house is structurally sound and subsidence is not an issue, after that it's really only decoration considerations.  Whatever else is listed can normally be fixed or lived with easily enough.  Don't let the Engineers report frighten you away from buying your dream home.