What should I do after having a survey?

What should I do after having a survey?

There is plenty of information and advice about having a survey before buying a property, but not so much advice about what to do after having a survey.  Remember that the purpose of a house survey is to identify any defects.  Even if a property is in a good order it would be unusual for no defects to be noted.  Any minor items can be dealt with once you have purchased the property.  However, if a survey report reveals that extensive works and/or investigations are needed then some purchasers may be unclear about the best way forward.

Firstly, you should forward a copy of the report to your solicitor as there may be items which your solicitor may need to check such as:

  • Ownership and responsibility of boundaries.
  • Ownership and responsibility of drains.
  • Ownership and responsibility of any shared drives/access ways.

Typically, a purchaser should obtain quotes from builders before commitment to purchase (normally exchange of contracts).  By doing this, the purchaser will be able to decide whether or not to proceed with the purchase in full knowledge of the level of expenditure required.

In some cases, a vendor might offer to arrange for minor repairs to be carried out before the sale of the property.  However, for most works, if you plan to proceed with the purchase it is better to wait and have the work carried out after completion of the sale.  By choosing your own contractor you will be in control of the quality of work carried out.  However, you should still obtain quotation/s before exchange of contracts.

Sometimes further investigations will be required, eg, if a defect is suspected but cannot be confirmed within the scope of the survey.  Opening up may  be required (with the vendor’s consent) or a specialist (such as a drainage contractor, wall tie contractor, etc,) may need to attend.

If the survey report recommends further investigations which are disruptive the vendor might not be willing to have these undertaken.  For example, if ground floors need to be taken up to inspect floor timbers to check for dampness and/or rot then this may involve moving large amounts of furniture and may damage carpets.  If this is the case, it is better for a buyer to budget for the worst case scenario, such as removal of ground floors, replacement with a solid concrete floor, etc.  The investigations can then be carried out after the sale has completed.  If the works required are found to be less extensive then a saving will be made.

If the cost of repairs is found to be significant, you may choose to speak to the selling agent to check whether the vendor may renegotiate the sale price.  If the vendor is keen to sell the property and if their financial position allows them to reduce the price, either in part or in whole, then the estate agent will negotiate to agree on a selling price.  However, the vendor is under no obligation to reduce the price.  In some situations a vendor may not be in a position to reduce the price, particularly if the vendor has a high mortgage or needs to sell at or close to the asking price to be able to buy their next house.

Above all, after having a survey, read the report carefully and read it more than once.  Highlight any important parts, obtain prices for any works and carry out any further investigations (if possible) before exchange of contracts.

 

buying and selling a house

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What affects the value of a property? 

There are several factors which may affect the value of a property.    Firstly, a mortgage valuation must not be confused with an estate agent’s valuation.  An estate agent’s “valuation” is a suggested figure to market a property to try to get the best price for the vendor, while at the same time being realistically pitched to obtain interest from potential buyers.  This figure can be adjusted during the marketing process, depending upon the level of interest.  This article deals with mortgage valuations rather than estate agent’s valuations.

A valuation for a mortgage is prepared to advise a lender whether a particular property is suitable security for an advance. It is typically carried out by a Chartered Surveyor who has experience in valuing that type of property in that particular area.  A valuer will look at details of comparable properties, check their sale prices, consider how long they were on the market, and make allowances for any differences and any changes in the market.  The valuation figure is arrived at after careful consideration and the valuer carries a high level of responsibility.

Factors which affect the value of a property include:

1. Location – A house in a sought after suburb will have a higher value than an identical house in a less desirable part of town due to a higher level of demand.

2. Size – In many cases a house with more bedrooms and other accommodation will have a higher value than a smaller property.  However, most house buyers are aware that some areas of their town offer “better value for money” than others and therefore size is not the only factor to affect the value of a property.  Size needs to be considered alongside a number of other factors.

3. Neighbouring properties/adverse land use – If a house is situated next to or close to something which a typical purchaser would find undesirable, this is likely to have an effect value.  This may include a property which has not been maintained and is unsightly, a business which generates noise, smell, a large amount of traffic, etc.

4. Condition – A valuer will take into account the condition of the property and the approximate cost of improving.  However, remember that the inspection for a mortgage valuation is not a survey.

5. Tenure – Tenure can also affect the value of a property.  Freehold flats often have a lower value than equivalent leasehold flats.  Some mortgage lenders do not lend on freehold flats and this affects saleability, and in turn, value. Also, a property with a short lease or any other onerous restrictions is likely to be less saleable, and therefore have a lower value, than a property with a longer lease and no onerous restrictions.

6. Parking – Most households have a car, and many have more than one.  A property with ample parking will be more desirable than a comparable property with no parking, particularly if street parking is restricted (possibly with the exception of some prime city centre locations).

7. Alterations without consent – If a property has been significantly altered or extended without the required Planning or Building Regulation approval then in some circumstances this may affect value, particularly if works have been carried out recently and enforcement may be required.  Also, alterations carried out without the required consents may be substandard, and possibly dangerous, eg, where electrical wiring has not been carried out by a competent electrician, and this may affect the value of a property.

See also: What can I do if my house is down valued?

 

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Moving house in autumn – heating, insulation and freezing pipework

When moving house in autumn there are a number of items which take priority over longer term plans.  Alterations, and sometimes even decorating, can wait until a convenient time, but first it is important to make sure your new house is prepared for the winter months ahead.

If you are moving house in autumn remember to:

  1. Check that the heating system is functioning and have the system serviced (unless this has been serviced recently). Ideally, ask the vendor to show you how to operate the system before completion takes place.  If the system has recently been serviced then ask for the documents.
  2. Check that any plumbing pipework and water tanks in the roof space are fully lagged to reduce the risk of freezing. The same applies to any pipework in unheated outbuildings and pipework to outdoor taps.
  3. Check whether cavity wall insulation has been installed if the house has cavity walls.  Cavity wall insulation can reduce heat loss and improve the level of comfort within a house, but note that not all properties with cavity walls are suitable for cavity wall insulation.  See also 1960’s houses:  common defects. 
  4. Check gutters, gullies and drains to make sure they have not become blocked by leaves, etc.
  5. Check any paved areas to ensure they are draining adequately and are not ponding. Any areas which pond may become slippery with algae and/or ice.
  6. Check the level of insulation within any roof spaces.  Don’t forget the roof spaces to extensions, bay windows, etc.  If insulation is insufficient, then topping up before the cold weather arrives should help improve the level of comfort within the house.

When moving house in autumn, a few simple checks should help to ensure that you are prepared for the colder, winter months ahead.  If you are unable to check the house for yourself, consider instructing a surveyor.

 

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