Countrywide Home Surveys

How to overcome an unfavourable survey

You’ve found the perfect home – but the survey has uncovered a flaw. Kharla Mullen our Chief Operating Officer explains how a nightmare scenario needn’t shatter your property dream.

It’s clear that we’ve been operating in a housing market which has experienced its fair share of uncertainty over the past year. This lingering uncertainty has also been reflected in both the falling number of property sales across the UK and in the rise of those breaking down before reaching completion.

Earlier in the year, market analysis by Quick Move Now revealed that Q1 2023 saw 55.8% of property sales in England and Wales collapse before completion. Of the sales that failed, 29% were attributed to buyers getting cold feet and changing their minds about the property. A further 25% were due to the buyer pulling out over legal issues or as a result of a survey report.

Buyers have always maintained the ability to pull out of a transaction throughout the purchase process. After all, the unexpected does sometimes happen and circumstances do change. For buyers to complete on any property transaction, they need confidence, security and the right information to be able to proceed.

In recent articles, we’ve discussed how, where and why a survey can uncover hidden defects, provide financial protection to help offer that long-term piece of mind but what happens when a survey comes back with issues which potential buyers may not have expected?

Firstly, the depth of the initial information on offer will depend on the level of survey which has been instructed. Some surveys are more thorough that others, although it’s standard procedure for a survey to rank any problems which have been detected in urgency or severity. This is usually via a traffic light type system and where a particular issue has been raised for further investigation, then this should highlight if it is a minor or major issue complete with a recommendation regarding what to do next.

Secondly, a good surveyor will be on hand to take the time to talk customers through any areas of the report which may generate further questions or concerns. This can help elevate some initial worries regarding any existing or potential implications and offer insight into what measures may be required to overcome them. It will then fall on the customer to decide and engage on the next course of action. By this I mean seeking specialist advice if necessary and obtaining some suitable quotations for work which may need to be undertaken.

These quotes and advice, depending on the severity of any additional works, will determine how to proceed. It could be that case that the vendor may be in a position to fix a particular issue, alternatively it could lead to the renegotiation of the sale price. This is where your conveyancing solicitor will need to get involved.

Inevitably, a survey which highlights issues will always raise concerns amongst potential buyers and rightly so. But this doesn’t mean that a negative survey will always result in the collapse of a potential purchase. It simply arms buyers will information to overcome issues which may have cropped up further down the line. And addressing these concerns as early in the process as possible – either by getting certified work done before completion or negotiating a discount on the property so they can get the works done post-completion – could ensure that a dream purchase doesn’t turn into a nightmare.


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Countrywide Home Surveys is a trading name for Countrywide Surveyors Limited, registered in England and Wales under company no: 01954031.  Registered Office Greenwood House, 1st Floor, 91-99 New London Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 0PP.  VAT number 500 2481 05

Countrywide Surveyors Limited is regulated by RICS for the provision of surveying services. This means we agree to uphold the RICS Rules of Conduct for Firms and all other applicable mandatory professional practice requirements of RICS, which can be found at
As an RICS regulated firm we have committed to cooperating with RICS in ensuring compliance with its standards. The firm’s nominated RICS Responsible Principal is Martyn Stones, Director of Technical, Risk and Compliance, contact 01332 813096.

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