Just don't complain when there is no contract on the table and the owner accepts a higher offer than yours after you've spent all that money on a survey, lift out etc

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Shouldn't the deposit be the owners then? An undertaking that the owner won't sell and the deposit penalty if they do?

As it stands, if the owner renéges on the contract the buyer must sue to get compensated, if the buyer drops out because of a bad survey then the buyer has to jump through hoops to recover his money.

It doesn't seem balanced.

...and how bad must a survey be to be sure of a refund?