Home Help

None of us have all the answers. And I challenge anyone who thinks they know everything about everything, even today where information is freely available and all we have to do is ask Google! We are living in an era of near perfect information but when it comes to the intricacies of buying and selling property, trusting the experts is a worthwhile exercise – I promise you that. So, over the next few articles I write, I thought I would discuss a few more unique topics that hopefully help you understand more about some of the more delicate, oft debated questions we face with some regularity. First up, the dreaded ‘Doer upper’.

Congratulations! You’ve had your offer accepted by the vendor on your dream house. But it needs work. At what stage should you be looking at speaking to an architect or a builder?

Great question. It’s important would-be buyers are able to line up their builders and/or architects on the Island – timing is everything. But how do we do this so we’re ahead of the game but all the while making sure we don’t upset the sellers at a delicate stage of the process? You want to know what work is required, and most importantly, what this work is going to cost so you can budget properly. But sellers can get annoyed when buyers reduce their offer at a late stage because of something they could have taken into account from the outset. This could be blown double glazing units, defective plaster or even major roof works.

The best thing a buyer can do is make sure that they have a reasonable idea of the cost of any works identified BEFORE a price is agreed. In the case of a ‘Doer upper’, that means thinking long and hard about it before you make your offer. Ask questions of the agent, take notes and pictures at the property, ask your preferred builder or architect. And if in doubt, ask Google (again!).

But as a seller, you must remember that it is not unreasonable for a buyer to request a viewing of a property with their builder/architect at any stage of the process. In my opinion, if the costs of the proposed works has near zero effect on the price agreed, then it is polite to wait until contracts have been exchanged, however, if you feel that the desired (or, perhaps necessary) works are likely to have a material effect on the price agreed, get your chosen expert in quickly, at an early stage of the process. That way, you can approach matters going forward with more confidence. But always remember that any re-negotiation will have to be handled respectfully and delicately, if necessary.

Interestingly, your survey (provided you have one) should have given you an early indication of the condition of the house you’re looking to buy. Even the basic mortgage valuation report should provide commentary on condition. Take comfort from this part of the process.

For more advice or if you have any specialist questions about any part of the home-buying or selling process, I’d be pleased to chat to you – please give me a call on (01624) 645555 or email me at Tim@blackgracecowley.com

Tim Groves
Black Grace Cowley


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