What to do when things go wrong

No matter how experienced you are at dealing in property, there’s always something nasty that can jump out and bite you.

The trick is to see it coming and deal with it promptly. A lot of problems are simply down to poor communication. Which is why, when disaster strikes, you often find yourself shouting ‘Why didn’t they tell about us this weeks ago?’

            If you have to blame anything, blame the system. Getting safely to exchange of contracts is a precarious, drawn out process. Many countries have robust modern procedures designed to achieve a smooth and successful transaction. We, on the other hand, have to make do with an ancient rope bridge sagging precariously above the rapids.

Despite this, the odds of reaching the other side without plunging to your doom are still in your favour.

But should you slip en route, the chances of success can be boosted by applying the following tried and tested remedies. Often a small amount of compromise and some skilful renegotiation is all that’s required to save the day.


Most problems ultimately boil down to money. But trying to renegotiate an already done deal is never easy. The only genuine justification is where important new evidence has come to light since the offer was agreed.

Perhaps you have belatedly discovered that a particularly gruesome murder took place at the property some years ago (prior to redecoration). More likely the need to renegotiate would be down to the extra expense of fixing defects spotted by your surveyor.

Or perhaps the mortgage valuation has come in lower than the agreed purchase price. The surveyor or solicitor may also have pointed out drawbacks with the location that you weren’t aware of, such as flight paths, electrical substations, or vandalism.

            Either way, the first course of action is to have a chat with your surveyor or solicitor to get the facts straight.

If you still want to proceed, the problem will need to be quantified by being translated into a sum of money, for example by obtaining estimates for the cost of repairs (although some things are obviously harder to put a price on than others). It’s then a question of negotiating a revised price to reflect the cost and hassle of sorting things out.

            There is, of course, an art to negotiating. This might boil down to the fact that when you originally made the offer, you weren’t aware of whatever the problem is – let’s say the plague of gerbils inhabiting the soil pipe. This will involve you in considerable unforeseen extra expense estimated at £5,000, which now needs to be factored into the purchase price.

            It helps to be polite and to calmly justify your position. Of course you’re really making an implied threat that you’ll pull out unless a suitable compromise can be reached.

This could come as something of a shock to the sellers, who may need time to consider the changed situation.

It might be best to broach the subject via their agent so that an overly defensive first reaction on their part doesn’t muddy the waters.

An important tactic when negotiating is to always leave the door open, so that it’s easy for the other side to call you back later and co-operate without losing face.

Our next blog – coming soon …….

Other solutions that can save the day when things go wrong


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