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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Problems when buying a home

You may encounter problems when trying to purchase your home.  This can be a long and frustrating process.

Seller pulls out of agreement

The sale isn’t final until the contracts have been signed and exchanged.  Either you or the seller could pull out at any stage up to this point. If you can no longer go through with the purchase, speak to your solicitor.  

Gazumping – a new buyer makes an offer

A new buyer may offer a higher price for the property.  This is known as gazumping.  It’s not illegal and can happen, particularly if the property market is booming and there’s lots of competition for homes. There's not much you can do except increase your own offer.  You should only do this if you're sure that you can afford to pay the extra each month and that the property is worth it. 

Survey finds a problem

Your mortgage lender will insist on a valuation survey before agreeing to the mortgage.  Many buyers also get their own survey done to see what kind of condition the property is in.  If this survey turns up a problem it can slow the process down.  A few things can happen if the survey turns up a fault

  • the bank may reduce the amount it’s prepared to lend on the property
  • you can ask the seller to reduce the price to account for the cost of fixing the problem
  • you can ask the seller to pay for any repairs before the sale completes

If this happens, discuss your options with your solicitor.

Can’t agree specifics of the sale

Some buyers and sellers negotiate about the conditions of the sale. These discussions are usually carried out by each party’s solicitor.  You may want to negotiate about outstanding repairs or what fixtures and fittings are included with the sale. These types of things need to be agreed before you can exchange contracts.

Problems getting a mortgage

Your next step after your offer has been accepted is usually arranging a mortgage.  Northern Ireland has a shared ownership scheme, run by Co-ownership Housing, which allows you to buy a share in a property.

If you’re having problems getting a mortgage or you’re not sure that you’ll be able to afford the repayments, get independent financial advice before committing to buy a property.  Your home can be repossessed if you miss your mortgage payments and you’ll normally lose any money you put down as a deposit.