It can be a challenge trying to sell a property that has been underpinned because of subsidence. Many buyers will be put off by the associated stigma and risk of increased insurance premiums.
So, can you sell an underpinned house?
The good news is you can sell an underpinned house. If time isn’t a factor, selling with an experienced, local estate agent will be your best option. Generally, you are going to achieve the best price for your property selling this way. If you want to achieve a faster, more certain sale, auction is the recommended option.
In this article, we will cover the best ways to sell an underpinned house based on your priorities.
We will explore the pros and cons of selling an underpinned house by auction vs. with an estate agent. We also look at why it’s so difficult to sell an underpinned house and if you must disclose it to prospective buyers.
Finally, I will give you my top tips for selling an underpinned house that should improve your chances of finding that elusive buyer!
1. Is it difficult to sell an underpinned house?
Selling an underpinned house can be challenging. If the underpinning work has resolved any structural issues, you should (in theory) be able to sell the property like any other. However, a lot of people are wary of buying an underpinned property, so it can take a lot longer to find a buyer.
The ease of selling an underpinned property will also depend on a variety of factors. These factors include the condition of the property, the market conditions, and the level of competition.
1.1 Why is it difficult to sell an underpinned house?
It can be harder to sell an underpinned house for several reasons:
- Stigma. Buyers associate a lot of bad things with underpinned houses (think subsidence, stress and added expense). Even if the property is now structurally sound, lots of buyers will still be put off by the associated stigma.
- More expensive to insure. Insurance premiums and subsidence excess (if offered) will be more expensive for underpinned homes. The added expense may put some buyers off.
- Recent repair works. If the property has been recently underpinned, buyers may be concerned about the longevity of the repairs. Selling an underpinned house is easier when there’s evidence that the underpinning has fixed the problem. The longer it’s been since the underpinning, the easier this is to prove.
- Source of the subsidence. Buyers will want to know if the source of the subsidence has been removed or properly dealt with. If not, some buyers may worry about the possibility of future ground movement.
- Competition. The level of competition in the market and the availability of alternative properties can affect the saleability of an underpinned property.
- Future saleability. Buyers will also consider how easy it’s going to be for them to sell the property when they decide to move on. Generally, it takes longer to find a buyer for an underpinned home as many will not want to buy a home with a history of subsidence.
It’s important to note that while these factors can make it harder to sell an underpinned property, they do not necessarily mean that it’s impossible. A well-presented, well-maintained property with no signs of further ground movement can still be attractive to potential buyers.
2. Do you have to disclose that a property has been underpinned when selling a house?
You might be thinking if underpinning makes properties so hard to sell, why not just hide it from the buyer? This is a bad idea.
As the seller, you will need to complete the Seller’s Property Information Form (TA6). This is a legal document completed by the seller to give prospective buyers detailed information about your house.
Section 5.1(h) of the form requires sellers to provide details of any underpinning guarantees or warranties. These will have been given by the company who carried out the underpinning repairs.
It is important that any information you provide is up to date and accurate. You may face a misrepresentation claim if you mislead the buyer with the information provided and they suffer a loss as a result.
Instead of trying to hide the underpinning, you should focus on reassuring the buyer that the property is now structurally sound.
You can do this by providing the buyer with the Certificate of Structural Adequacy and Formal Completion Certificate. The certificates confirm the property has been inspected and remedial works signed off.
3. What is the best way to sell a house that has been underpinned?
There is no blanket answer here. What is best for you will depend on your circumstances, your priorities and when the underpinning was carried out.
Before we consider the best way to sell an underpinned property, you should ask yourself what you prioritise most: time or money. This will ultimately affect which option is right for you.
If time isn’t a factor, selling with an experienced, local estate agent would be my recommendation. Generally, you are going to achieve the best price for your property selling this way. It just might take time.
Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of selling an underpinned house by auction vs. with an estate agent.
3.1 When to sell an underpinned house with an estate agent
If your priority is to get the best price for your house, then selling with an estate agent is your best option.
I generally tell readers that you’ll get the best price by putting your house on the market with a good local agent and pricing it realistically. You just need to be prepared to wait for the right buyer to come along.
Although you are likely to achieve the best price selling with an estate agent, it does come with some disadvantages:
- Can take a long time. According to a 2022 study by Zoopla, it takes around 25 weeks on average to sell a house on the open market. A big problem with traditional house sales is that it takes around 22 of those weeks to get to the stage when the transaction becomes legally binding! Selling an underpinned property is likely to take longer as a lot of buyers will be put off from the outset.
- Buyers can pull out. Our research reveals that 31% of all house sales fall through at least once before completion. According to our research, the most common reason why house sales fall through is “a change of heart or circumstances”. Unfortunately, underpinned properties carry a lot of stigma. Buyers might get spooked speaking to friends and family and end up pulling out.
- Inexperienced agents. There are many misconceptions about the durability and structural integrity of underpinned properties. These misconceptions are held by both buyers and inexperienced estate agents. The last thing you want is a misinformed estate agent putting buyers off.
So, how do you pick a good estate agent to improve your chances of a sale?
How to pick a good estate agent
Selling an underpinned house will be harder than selling a “problem-free” property.
With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to pick the right estate agent to improve your chances of a sale.
Here are my top tips to help you pick the right estate agent for the job:
- Local. Going with a local agent will be an advantage, as they’ll understand local markets and how underpinned properties perform in the area.
- Recommended. Do you know any friends or family that have sold an underpinned house with an estate agent? Speak with friends, family, and neighbours for recommendations. It really helps narrow down your options knowing that certain agents have a proven track record.
- Experienced. Having an agent with experience selling underpinned houses will ultimately be invaluable. They’ll be able to dispel common myths and worries that prospective buyers may have, and market the property fairly.
- Proactive. Does the agent come across as proactive and motivated? Buyers will have lots of questions about an underpinned property and will request copies of repair certificates. If your agent isn’t proactive and motivated, the sale is going to drag on and you could lose buyers as a result.
Make sure that you shop around and get 2-3 valuations from different estate agents. Estate agents will often over-value properties to try and win your business. Try and focus on experience and recommendations over the valuation.
If you don’t have the luxury of time, then selling your underpinned home by auction might be a better option for you…
3.2 When to sell an underpinned house by Auction
If you’re not having much luck selling with an estate agent, or you want a faster sale, then auction might be the way to go.
In general, selling by auction is faster than selling with an estate agent, and you’ll have a much higher chance of achieving a sale.
The main benefits of selling an underpinned house by auction are:
- Success rate. On average, estate agents only sell around 51% of the properties they take on. By comparison, auctions have an average success rate of 78%. You can improve your chances of selling by having the proper arrangements in place (such as your legal pack). Also, make sure to listen to the auctioneer’s recommendations on price.
- Certainty. Auctions also offer a greater deal of certainty. Less than 1% of sales agreed via a traditional auction fall through. Shockingly, around 31% of all house sales fall through at least once before completion if sold with an estate agent. If your house is underpinned, this figure might be even higher as buyers might get cold feet.
- Speed. You can expect a much faster sale if you decide to sell by auction. You can have an auction sale agreed in as little as 6-8 weeks. With an estate agent sale, you have the risk of buyers pulling out which can delay your onward sale. It helps to be open and honest with buyers about the underpinning from the outset to avoid this happening.
- Ease. An estate agent sale is notoriously difficult, stressful, and frustrating. Auctions work to set timeframes that everyone has legally committed to. This means all parties involved are more proactive, resulting in a much more convenient and easy sale.
- Experience. Generally, auctioneers spend a lot of their time working with properties with current or historic issues. It’s likely that they’ll have more experience selling underpinned properties than estate agents, who may even end up putting buyers off.
The main disadvantage of selling your underpinned house by auction is the price. Generally, houses sell for around 85-90% of their market value at auction.
However, houses can also go for much higher at auction. Properties that are priced competitively can generate lots of interested parties and spark a bidding war.
If you think auction might be right for you, you can get a free, no-obligation auction valuation and consultation from my #1 leading auction house. Press the “Start Now” button below to get started.
4. Tips for selling a house that has been underpinned
Although it might take longer to find a buyer, it’s not impossible to sell an underpinned home. From picking the right estate agent to locating your Formal Completion Certificate, there are things you can do to improve your chances of finding a buyer.
Here are some of my top tips that should speed up the process:
- Be up front and honest. Buyers will inevitably find out about the underpinning at some stage in the transaction. Being honest from the outset will prevent time being wasted on unmotivated buyers.
- Use an experienced estate agent. I recommend using a local estate agent who has experience selling underpinned properties. The last thing you want is an inexperienced agent scaring buyers off.
- Locate all certificates and guarantees. Buyers will request copies of the Certificate of Structural Adequacy, Formal Completion Certificate, and any guarantees. Prevent unnecessary delays by tracking all the documentation down before putting the house on the market. Providing the paperwork is vital as it’ll reassure buyers that the property is structurally sound.
- Consider alternative selling methods. Be open to considering alternative methods of sale. If time is your priority, selling your underpinned home by auction could be a better option for you.
- Be prepared to negotiate on price. Depending on how long ago your house was underpinned, buyers might try to negotiate on price to factor in insurance premiums. Insurance premiums and subsidence excess (if offered) will be much higher just after the works have been carried out. Prices tend to drop a decade or two after the repair works if there’s been no further movement.
If you want to learn more about underpinned properties, you can read my “Underpinned Houses: The Complete Guide [Top 10 Most Popular Questions]”. We answer some of the most frequently asked questions, including “does underpinning devalue a house?” and “how much does it cost to underpin your house?”.
Try out the free "subsidence home sellers" quiz I've designed for you too:
By Matthew Cooper, Co-Founder of Home Selling Expert