Buying a new house might be one of the most exciting milestones in life, but it's a decision that can sometimes be made with the heart and not the head. Of course, in an ideal world every property deal would run smoothly, but the buying process doesn't end the minute you find your perfect house.
No matter how beautiful the property is on the surface, it's really important to seek objective advice on the state of the building before making an offer. Condition reports are designed to highlight many different problems.
What can a survey reveal?
- According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the most common ones include:
- Subsidence issues that affect a building's structural movement. These might include bouncy floors, bulging walls, or other expansions or contractions
- Timber and damp problems, causing wet and dry rot on areas such as window frames, and woodworm infestation
- Shortcomings that warrant replacement, such as defective wiring or roof coverings, or an outdated heating system
- Invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed
What should I do if the survey reveals a problem?
If the report on your dream property reads more like a nightmare, the first thing to do is to go through it with your surveyor to make sure you have an in-depth understanding of the issues and their implications. Remember, most surveys rank problems in order of severity and urgency. Once you have a comprehensive overview of the condition of the property, you have three options:
- Proceed at the agreed price and accept the problems highlighted in the report
- Pull out of the buying process
Before you make any decision though, take a step back, examine the nature of the problems, and ask yourself if you still wish to go ahead. Damp can look terrible but it's often easy to treat, while on the other hand the need for rewiring won't immediately be obvious but can still prove costly, disruptive and time-consuming to put right.
If you still wish to put in an offer for the house, obtain several quotes from local builders or tradesmen about fixing the issues. Use these figures to go back and renegotiate on the price you are prepared to pay so you don't leave yourself out of pocket.
Remember, your offer price should be based on how much you want the property and how badly the vendor needs to sell. Bear in mind that often other issues can be uncovered when carrying out repair work. It's not unusual for repairs to take longer to complete than expected, or for costs to go above any estimates. Be clear about exactly what that home is worth to you and don't stretch yourself beyond that limit.
Make sure you have an in-depth understanding of the issues and their implications.