“My mate does some building. He’ll give the place a once over...”
More and more families are shunning full building surveys so they can raise enough cash to buy a home.
It’s estimated that around 80% of buyers don’t check to see if the property is safe or what needs doing as people mistakenly believe the mortgage lender’s valuation is a structural review. That misunderstanding can come back to bite people later if they find a problem with the property. Potential buyers expose themselves to the risk of huge repair costs after finding nasty surprises later.
One in five of those who did not bother with a survey later uncovered faults, according to research involving more than 1,000 buyers conducted by ComRes for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Remedial work cost £5,750 on average and RICS said 17% of new owners ended up paying more than £12,000 to make their homes habitable.
At Anglian Home Surveyors we regularly hear comments such as: ”My mate does some building. He’ll give the place a once over...”
If this is the case then you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Are they a professional surveyor or a general builder? What are their skills in defect analysis and identification?
- If they miss a significant defect, do they have any Professional Indemnity insurance to claim against?
- Do they maintain any records that could be used in future claims against a buildings insurance policy?
- Is this a reliable enough option for the home buyer spending £150,000 or more?
A full building survey costs as much as £1,000. Even the briefer Home Condition Survey or Homebuyer Report, at around £400, should pick up serious problems.
Many buyers mistakenly rely on only their mortgage provider’s valuation. Estate agents say it is a growing problem, the result of family budgets coming under increasing pressure. Valuations do not include a full inspection. In fact, some are done from a desk miles away or after a quick drive past the property.
The mortgage valuation ‘survey’:
- Involves often less than 30 minutes in the property
- Focuses on the lender’s needs, not the buyer’s
The Council of Mortgage Lenders advises solicitors:
“...we recommend that you should advise the borrower that there may be defects in the property which are not revealed by the inspection carried out by our valuer and there may be omissions or inaccuracies in the report which do not matter to us but which would matter to the borrower... you should also advise the borrower that the borrower should not rely on the report in deciding whether to proceed with the purchase and that he obtains his own more detailed report on the condition of the property based on a fuller inspection...”
Some are suspicious of surveyors, believing that they can hide behind get-out clauses and disclaimers if they fail to detect problems. Others feel forced to scrimp on the cost of a survey because of the pressure to save for a deposit and cover other moving costs, but the last thing families need if they are financially stretched is a barrage of bills for unforeseen repairs. A new owner could be stuck with a property which they cannot afford to put right and which no one else wants to buy.
It’s amazing that a buyer of a car, average cost of £3,500, will insist on an MOT, but a person buying, say, a £250,000 house will generally not spend money to have that property fully checked.
The benefits of a comprehensive survey are many:
- Shows commitment from the buyer to the property
- Gives both buyer and seller peace of mind
- Helps conveyancers in understanding relevant issues, e.g. unclear boundaries, rights of way
- Avoids last-minute surprises
- Adds a ‘feel good’ factor to the buying decision
For the reassurance that comes with a thorough building survey, contact us.
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