‘We went sale agreed, then reduced our offer. The agent put it back on the market’

Property Clinic: ‘How best can we approach to open some dialogue with the agent?’

The selling agent, who is acting for the vendor, has a responsibility to the vendor to achieve the best sale agreement possible. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The selling agent, who is acting for the vendor, has a responsibility to the vendor to achieve the best sale agreement possible. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

 

We went sale agreed on a property in Dublin. The building surveyor report highlighted issues with electrics and recommended the house be rewired. We reduced our offer on the house and this was not accepted by the agent/vendor. The agent immediately put the house back on the market without even attempting to negotiate with us. We feel that we have no option but to look for other houses but prefer the one we went sale agreed on. How best can we approach to open some dialogue with the agent and vendor as we feel that there is still room for negotiation?

The selling agent, who is acting for the vendor, has a responsibility to the vendor to achieve the best sale agreement possible. When a purchaser’s surveyor finds that a property requires rewiring, then a copy of the relevant part of this survey could be shown to the agent together with a quote from a suitably qualified electrician for verification on cost. Then the agent can go back to the vendor and can often mediate between vendor and purchaser to come to some agreement such as splitting the cost of works required.

However, it can also be the case that the agent, who generally knows more about the vendor’s situation, may have been instructed by the vendor at the outset or at the sale agreed stage what the minimum acceptable price is likely to be, regardless of the result of a subsequent survey.

In such cases, if the agent, after reverting back to their client with the survey results, is still instructed not to renegotiate, then it is out of the remit of the agent and the agent has no authority to renegotiate the price. If instructed by the vendor, the property will be placed back on the market.

Woodworm treatment

I know of a similar case recently where a price was agreed and at the outset the selling agent advised the purchaser, at the request of the vendor, that there would be no renegotiation whatsoever on the price regardless of any survey results. The purchasers came back to the agent after their survey, insisting that the vendor carry out woodworm treatment.

The cost involved was by no means substantial but the vendor adhered to the original agreement and viewed the purchaser’s request as “changing the goalposts” from the agreement. The vendor then instructed the agent to remarket the property immediately whereupon they resold the property to another purchaser for the same price. Had the original purchasers adhered to the original point of sale agreement of “no renegotiation” as stressed to them upon agreeing of the sale, then they would have been successful in their bid to buy the house.

Typically, in many cases where a survey points out some issue/issues to be addressed, the agent can act as a mediator between vendor and purchaser as outlined but ultimately in the vendor’s interest. The agent must always act on the vendor’s instructions provided these instructions are reasonable.

Roger Berkeley is a chartered residential surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie

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