Should vendors commission surveys before they sell?
The buying and selling process in the UK hasn’t changed for decades. Most home movers understand a survey that examines the condition of a property is commissioned by the purchaser as part of ‘caveat emptor’ – let the buyer beware.
There is, however, another approach that puts the seller in the driving seat when it comes to surveys. It’s very much a pre-emptive move that arms a homeowner with essential facts about their home before they put the property on the market.
You may ask why a seller should bear the cost of certain surveys when usually the bill is picked up by the buyer. Let’s explain. One of the most common reasons for a purchaser to withdraw from a transaction is a negative set of survey results. By the time the survey is received, the transaction is usually quite far along, with the house taken off the market, a degree of financial investment and the seller making onward plans.
If a buyer isn’t happy with the survey results, there are a number of paths they can follow. They can ask the seller to reduce the asking price to a figure that factors in the cost of remedying any issues; the buyer can ask the seller to undertake the work to correct defects in order for the sale to proceed, or the buyer can walk away from the purchase.
Each option delays the process and the first two options will cost the seller money, as well as incur delays. Pre-emptive surveys carried out by the seller before the ‘for sale’ board goes up can help mitigate these scenarios and prevent unwanted surprises.
So, what type of surveys should a seller consider commissioning? The top two survey discoveries that would prompt a buyer to withdraw from a purchase are subsidence and Japanese Knotweed. Other aspects that may trouble a buyer are damp and mould.
Seller-commissioned surveys are sensible if the homeowner suspects there is an issue – perhaps they have seen large cracks appear since they bought the property. It’s also worth bearing in mind that some problems can be genuinely missed. A new survey by Legal & General’s team of accredited surveyors found damp was the most common issue to go unnoticed by homeowners prior to a survey. Asbestos and electrical issues were also aspects that were only picked up by a surveyor’s assessment.
Such issues can be identified upfront by specialised contractors, who will inspect the property and grounds, highlight any issues that may come up in a buyer’s survey, give an estimated price to correct the faults and carry out any work necessary.
The information gleaned from any specialist surveys allows sellers to take a course of action that best suits their circumstances: carry out any work before a sale starts, price according to the home’s condition or prepare to make allowances when the buyer’s survey results are received.
Not every seller will need to conduct their own specialist surveys and we feel they will never replace a HomeBuyer Survey or a full structural/building survey carried out on behalf of the purchaser.
If you’re a potential seller in any doubt, we can advise if any action needs to be taken before your home comes to market. The age, location and condition of your property will be taken into account, and the survey report from the last sale may be used for background information. Please contact us to discuss your moving plans.
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