Thursday, 4 April 2013

And The Survey Says…

Latest research from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has highlighted a worrying trend with regards to consumers’ knowledge and use of building surveys when purchasing a property. 

The research identified that almost one third of home buyers fail to commission a survey prior to completion, and of those, a fifth result in owning a home that they would not have purchased, had they have been fully aware of the property’s true condition.

It was also identified that whilst almost one third of home buyers are not commissioning a survey when buying a property, 94% agreed that it was an important thing to do.

If buyers are purchasing homes without the foresight offered by a building survey, it could lead to subsequent financial pressures if they are then faced with urgent repairs or maintenance that they hadn’t accounted for. On average, the RICS research found that remedial work costs an average of £5,750.

To highlight the risk at the other extreme, a well-publicised example focuses on Ridgemont House, which is situated on the cliff tops of Torquay.  In 2010, the 1930’s property was purchased for £154,000 at auction via a telephone bid. The purchaser did not undertake a viewing or commission any structural reports or surveys, even though the auction particulars stated that the property was “severely structurally damaged” and potentially “beyond economic repair”.

In a matter of days of the new owner moving in, a landslide meant the property was dangerously close to the cliff edge and so not safe to live in. This month, following months of legal battles between the buyer and seller, the latest reports confirm that the property has succumbed to the elements, with another landslip pulling a majority of the home in to the sea below.

While this is a rather extreme case, it does illustrate the need to continue educating consumers as to what surveys are available to them when purchasing a property, and the benefits of commissioning them.   It is also important to stress that the valuation survey is for the benefit of the mortgage lender, in order to confirm that the property is worth the value of the loan’s security, and does not in any way provide structural or condition-based information to the buyer.

At the end of the day, it pays to carry out a survey on what is likely to be the most expensive purchase you will ever make.

A helpful guide from Which? that outlines the range of Surveys available can be found here:

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