Have You Ever Had A House Sale Get Nasty?
For most people selling their homes, the sales process goes relatively smoothly from listing to completion. However, sometimes transactions take an unexpected turn for the worse, with tensions rising and deals getting derailed. When problems occur, house sales can quickly turn nasty through no real fault of the seller.
Common Issues That Can Cause Problems
There are a range of common issues that can cause a straightforward house sale to go downhill:
Disputes over fixtures and fittings – Confusion or unrealistic expectations over what is included in the sale price often cause issues down the line. Buyers may insist certain fixtures should be left when the seller had not intended to.
Delays – drawn-out negotiations, slow responses to queries, and delays with surveys, contracts and financing can test the patience of even the most easy-going seller.
Gazumping – this is when the buyer decides to withdraw their original offer and make a lower bid, usually once contracts have been exchanged. This can leave sellers stranded or facing renegotiation.
Survey problems – if the buyer’s survey reveals expensive issues such as dampness, structural damage or electrical faults, they may try to renegotiate the price down significantly or even pull out altogether.
Issues with related sales – if other sales in the buying chain collapse, buyers may walk away or seek to revise the agreed deal, leaving the seller high and dry.
Personality clashes – clear communication and reasonable flexibility are key in sales. But tensions can flare when one party is difficult, vague or inflexible, even if unintentionally.
When issues arise, they can quickly turn an amicable sale nasty through factors often outside the seller’s control. It becomes a test of patience and resilience to get the sale back on track.
Preventing Sales from Turning Sour
While rarely completely avoidable, there are steps sellers can take to minimise the chances of a sale descending into acrimony and frustration:
- Be as flexible, reasonable and conciliatory as possible when any issues crop up. Taking an aggressive stance rarely helps smooth things over.
- Maintain good communication with your agent so you stay fully informed if any problems emerge. Forewarned is forearmed.
- Be prepared to negotiate pragmatically over price or terms if needed to preserve the sale. Compromise can pay off.
- Do not take delays or objections personally, however difficult they may be. Remain calm and constructive.
- When choosing an offer, check the buyer has financing already secured to prevent gazumping later on.
- Address any property faults highlighted in surveys quickly and fairly. Get quotes for required repairs.
- Involve your solicitor early to review contracts for risks and ensure terms suit your needs.
- Organise removal arrangements and timeframes tentatively until contracts are signed and deposits paid.
No seller can completely safeguard against a deal turning ugly. However, by staying flexible, communicating professionally, and tackling problems cooperatively, you can certainly limit the risks.
Steering Sales Back on Track
When an issue does throw a sale off course, as frustrating as it may be, try to take a pragmatic approach focused on resolution, rather than reacting angrily. Some tactics to get negotiations back on track include:
- Hear the buyer’s issues and objections, however unreasonable they may seem initially. Let them vent if needed.
- Clarify disputed issues – define clearly what the actual sticking points are on both sides.
- Remain calm and constructive – heated arguments will not help matters.
- Be willing to compromise within reason if needed to get the deal done.
- Offer solutions – if the buyer has a valid objection, propose pragmatic ways to address it.
- Keep your agent closely involved to help mediate and broker a resolution.
- Suggest involving lawyers /surveyors if expert opinion would reassure the buyer.
- Float the idea of splitting the difference on disputed costs if appropriate.
- Propose new deadlines you are confident can be met, to reassure the buyer.
- Remind the buyer politely that deals are legally binding once contracts are exchanged.
With patience and creative problem-solving, many deals gone awry can be put back on track without having to start over.
Conclusion – When Problems Can’t be Resolved
However, if all attempts prove unsuccessful and it becomes evident that the sale is irretrievable, it may be necessary to acknowledge that it’s over and move forward. While this is always a frustrating last resort, it could be the only viable option if both parties have reached an impasse despite extensive efforts to salvage the deal. In this scenario, take time to learn any lessons that could help your next sale proceed more smoothly before relisting the property. Consider pricing slightly below market value to quickly attract interest from new buyers.
Moreover, keep in mind that a collapsed sale doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t find an alternative buyer. Take heart; when one door closes, another can open. Also, have you considered whether can you sell a house with a mortgage?
In summary, with flexibility and effective communication, many sales that have gone off track can be rescued, even when tensions run high. However, occasionally, it is necessary to accept that a deal is beyond saving in order to move forward. Handled constructively, even challenging sales don’t have to be the end of the road.