Time bomb for home buyers revealed

The survey of 1017 buyers across the UK found that consumers are clearly aware of the need for independent advice, with 94% of respondents agreeing it is important to commission a survey.

However, nearly a third failed to do so. This means buyers are left ignorant of issues with the property, such as structural defects, dry and wet rot, subsidence and many other faults, only for these to become serious matters at a later date.

The new homeowner may then be unable to afford, or may lose the desire, to fix the faults and may be left with a property they may no longer want to live in but are unable to sell to recoup their losses. 

* 89% of respondents who did not commission a survey now think it is important to take out independent advice;
* 73% of people who did commission a survey said it provided them with peace of mind and over 50% felt it was value for money.

Peter Bolton King, RICS Global Residential Director, said: "Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions most people will ever make and yet many consumers are doing so blind to the facts.

"Serious faults are difficult to identify and costly to repair. By not being aware of them consumers are risking a potential home buying time bomb. This can cause extreme stress and financial strain on homeowners who are often stuck with a property they no longer want but cannot sell."

Results from the survey of home buying consumers also showed common misconceptions and lack of understanding among consumers. Nearly 60% of respondents incorrectly identified an estate agent’s primary responsibility with 1 in 10 mistakenly believing agent’s act for the buyer, while nearly 1 in 5 thinking they act equally for the buyer and seller.

There is now a choice of three levels of RICS surveys available to suit the particular circumstances of the client and the property:

Level 1 – Condition Report
Provides an objective overview of the condition of the property, highlighting areas of major concern without extensive detail. This option is ideal for buyers purchasing a modern house in good condition and for sellers and owners.

Level 2 – HomeBuyer Report
Is most suitable for standard older and modern properties that are in an apparent reasonable condition. It provides a concise report with advice detailing any significant problems that could make a difference to the value of a property.

Level 3 – Building Survey
The "flagship" service providing a detailed report on a property. It is particularly useful for older, larger or non-traditional properties, or one which is dilapidated and has been extensively altered or if the buyer is planning a major conversion or renovation.

RICS surveyors are closely regulated and are required to have professional indemnity insurance, which helps to protect buyers if the surveyor fails to detect a fault that later becomes apparent. Buyers can search for a residential surveyor on the RICS website at: www.rics.org/findasurveyor/

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