When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Problems selling your home

Problems can crop up at any stage of selling your home, particularly if you are in a chain. 

Buyer reduces the offer

Your buyer may try to negotiate a lower price for the property.  Initial offers are made subject to contract so they are not binding. If the building survey finds problems with your property the buyer may decide that the property isn’t worth what he originally offered.

Your circumstances change

You may decide to cancel the sale if your circumstances change and you decide not to move.  Until the contracts have been signed and exchanged the sale is not binding.  You will only have to compensate the buyer for any charges he has paid if you entered into a legal agreement specifically saying you would do this.

Problems with the survey

If the valuation survey finds a problem you should consider

  • reducing the cost of the property or
  • getting your own survey and carrying out any necessary repairs.

Homebuyer’s reports and structural surveys are more detailed than the basic valuation survey.  If a problem crops up with these you don’t have to do anything.  If your buyers threaten to pull out of the sale you could offer to

  • pay for the repairs or
  • reduce the price to account for the cost of the repairs.

It may be best to let your solicitors negotiate the terms of any agreement.

No agreement on the conditions of the sale

You may need to negotiate on the particulars of the sale.  The new buyer may want you to include certain fixtures or fittings or may insist that you remove these.   You need to agree all the particulars of the sale before you can exchange contracts.

Problems getting a mortgage

If your buyer is having difficulties getting a mortgage there isn’t much you can do except choose to wait or choose to market the property again and look for a new buyer. 

Chain problems

It’s incredibly frustrating being in a chain as you are depending on everyone else’s transactions going smoothly.  It helps if everyone has their financing in place before they make an offer.

Negative equity and possession action

If you’ve decided to sell your property because you can no longer afford the mortgage payments, you’ll usually get a better price by selling the property yourself. 

If legal action to repossess your property has already started you will need to get your lender’s permission to sell the property. Get advice from our Mortgage Debt Advice Service if you’re having difficulties paying your mortgage or secured loan and want to know more about your options.

Selling a former Housing Executive or housing association property

You may need to repay some or all of your discount if you bought your home under the Right to Buy and then sell it to someone else. 

You won’t have to repay the discount if you’re selling more than 5 years after you bought the property.  You may not have to pay back the discount even if you have owned the property for less than five years if:

  • you are selling the property to a family member,
  • you are selling a part of the property you don't live in (for example, a garage),
  • a court has ordered you to give the property to your husband, wife or partner after divorce or separation.

Selling a Co-Ownership home

Co-Ownership Housing runs a scheme that allows people to buy a share in a property. Co-Ownership buys the remaining shares on the property and charges the homeowner a rent for these shares.

You can sell a home that you bought under Co-Ownership at any time, but Co-Ownership must agree to the price your buyer offers.