You know you should carry out a survey before you move home.
We bang that drum a lot.
We've curated three survey stories which may make you think twice...so you have been warned.
Are you sitting comfortably?
Good. Let us begin...
The Bank “Survey” Myth Disclosed…
A Buyer had found their perfect house and believed that they had commissioned a thorough survey through their Bank Lender.
Soon after they moved into their new home they discovered that the house was subject to ongoing structural movement.
Naturally, they thought the problem had been missed by "their" Surveyor so they pursued a legal claim against him for negligence.
The Court did not agree with them.
The Court decided that the Surveyor was an employee of a subsidiary of their Bank Lender and not working for the Buyers.
The Bank proved that, although the purchasers had been charged £715, the fine print stated that this was merely a valuation for the bank and not a Survey on behalf of the Buyers.
A Surveyor, in this type of report, is not required to access the roof space or recommend further investigations on the property.
Therefore, the surveyor was not negligent in failing to recommend that further investigations should be made in regards to structural movement.
Tip: Don’t Confuse a Valuation with a Survey. Commission your own survey and don't rely on your Lender’s valuation.
Buying a House Outside Your Area
If you’re thinking of relocating to a different area because of a job, for example, take more care with a Survey.
Clients were relocating a few years ago, because of a job move to the north west of England.
Our clients, on our advice did a bit of detective work and scouted various locations. They eventually found a property overlooking a park at what appeared to be a good price, "in need of modernisation" in estate agents’ language.
Our clients commissioned a Home Buyers Report.
The main findings of the Report were not a surprise, given the state of the property.
Some of the usual suspects were found; penetrating damp, condensation, no insulation, decay on timbers, internal decoration, new kitchen, damaged drains, overgrown trees, small area of asbestos and boundaries in disrepair.
The summary ,however, changed everything:
“While the property is located in an enclave of prestigious houses overlooking a park, we would point out that within 200 metres of the property, it is possible to buy a terraced house for as little as forty thousand pounds.
This could severely affect the long term value of the house and much depends on what the immediate adjacent area takes as to whether it will prove a good investment.”
So, was it worth having a survey done?
The cost of the survey was nothing compared to what might have happened if they had bought the property and lost tens of thousands of pounds due to renovations and decreasing value.
Our clients, although perfectly happy to endure the renovation process, the possibility of their property reducing in price over time was a too big a risk.
Thus, they pulled out of the purchase.
Buy in Haste, Repent at Leisure
A QC and his wife were interested in buying Laughton Manor near Lewes. The mansion had been built by a friend of Queen Victoria.
The Buyers exchanged contracts within a day, with an extended completion date. They were in no need of mortgage finance, there was no chain and they seemingly had no time for a full survey.
After they had signed the contracts, the Buyers commissioned a Survey on the property.
The Report revealed rising damp and dry rot and the Buyers wanted to pull out of their purchase, accusing the Sellers of “reckless misrepresentation”.
The Buyers wanted their deposit back in full, plus damages for the Seller’s failure to mention the property’s state of disrepair, which would cost around £600,000 to rectify.
What did the Court decide?
The Court reaffirmed the maxim of Caveat Emptor meaning ‘let the buyer beware’
It was the buyers fault for failing to carry out a survey before signing the contract. The court decided that the buyers had no right to cancel the contract on the grounds that they were not subject to fraud; they were simply victims of their own negligence.
The Buyers forfeited their £150,000 deposit and a payment of £210,000 deposit balance had to be made.
The Lesson Learned
If you are buying an old property, you may think it isn’t worth having a survey.
However, we believe that this story in particular proves how detrimental it can be if you avoid paying for a survey. Getting your house checked out could save you a lot of time, hassle and money.
Fore-armed is fore-warned.
Wake up- Don’t let that be you!
We hope that you may think twice and commission a survey when moving home.