A recent survey carried out by Which? Mortgage Advisers found that two thirds of people either negotiate a better sale price or get the problems fixed by the vendor before exchange. So how valuable can a property survey really be?
When I purchased my first house earlier this year, the expense of paying out for a survey was one I was keen to shy away from. After all the transport costs involved in going to view properties, the looming stamp duty and the conveyancing fees, I felt the survey would be a grudge purchase.
But knowing I was soon to be entirely responsible for the bricks and mortar around me, not to mention almost every piece of advice I was given or read saying: ‘GET A SURVEY’, I knew it was a must. And so I paid for one.
Why a survey matters
In hindsight, my survey could have saved me a bit of money, but I didn’t tap its full potential.
A recent survey carried out by Which? Mortgage Advisers found that two thirds of homebuyers use their survey to negotiate a better deal. While a quarter of them managed to get the current homeowner to pay out for repairs to the property before the exchange, around four in ten knocked some money off the agreed sale price.
I feel now that I went through the process too hastily in a bid to complete on the property. My other half and I had been so keen on the house, which was in the perfect area for us, that we fought to view it before the open day, knowing that being the first viewers would be key to securing it.
Although it seemed structurally sound, we had a few concerns when we looked around. It had Artex ceilings everywhere, so the presence of asbestos was my main fear, and the boiler had seemingly been relocated inside the property a few times.
So, I opted for a full building survey costing £800, and a week or so later was handed a very comprehensive document.
We were both so excited it said no asbestos had been identified and that it confirmed the building was structurally sound that we didn’t pay much attention to the rest.
Read the report
Suffice to say there were other issues that we could have and should have raised with the vendor at the time.
We moved in and soon discovered that was all the rooms had been wallpapered and painted over. This fact was reported in our survey, we just didn’t consider the consequences. But what we thought would be just a quick paint job resulted in a full three-month redecoration challenge. In fact, I never EVER want to see a wallpaper steamer EVER again.
And then there was the query about the roof tiles. The surveyor noted that the roof seemed sound, but suggested we check out a few bits. Which we did – when we woke up one morning to find water trickling down the bedroom wall.
Now I’ll accept that my situation could have been a lot worse. Friends of mine had a survey done on a house they were buying recently and discovered that the entire roof needed replacing. This resulted in tense negotiations with the vendors to lower the sale price, but they got there in the end.
Value of a survey
I do wonder now if I’d used my survey as less of a reassuring report and more of a bargaining tool, whether I could have got a better deal on my property.
But hey-ho, as my grandmother said: ‘Welcome to the world of home ownership.’
Perhaps next time around I’ll be a bit wiser to the game.
How valuable has a house survey been for you? Have you ever negotiated a better deal because of one?