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Thousands of buyers at risk by not commissioning a property survey

Almost 100,000 homes were purchased during the 2019/2020 financial year without the buyers commissioning a property survey, according to new research by Direct Line Home Insurance.

Last updated on April 21st, 2021 at 10:57 am

property surveyWorryingly, this means that around nine percent of people who purchased a new home during this period did so without the security of knowing that an unexpected bill wouldn’t crop up once they moved into it.  Indeed, 25 percent of those who did not have a survey had to find an average of just over £3,600 for repair work that they had not planned for.

42 percent of surveys uncover issues

According to the research, around 42 percent of property surveys undertaken uncover issues and around 40 percent of buyers who receive these surveys use them to help negotiate a reduction in the selling price or have the issue rectified. Whilst 14 percent of buyers who receive a negative survey do not go ahead with the purchase, 38 percent still go ahead without trying to negotiate any discount or rectification.

Further research, carried out by estate agents, suggests that the main issues likely to lead to negotiations following a negative survey are:

  • Structural (55 percent)
  • Subsidence (31 percent)
  • Electrical (29%)
  • Roof issues (23 percent)

Savings made when negotiating due to negative survey

Buyers make an average saving of just over £5,700 (an average of 2.4 percent of the selling price) when they negotiate the price with the seller.  The survey also shows that 11 percent of buyers in Sheffield try to negotiate a discount in the selling price and 66 percent of those are successful, leading to an average saving of around £5,100 (3.10%).

property survey

Caroline Murray

Caroline Murray, partner and head of Graysons’ property team says:

“In England and Wales, it is the buyer who is responsible for commissioning a survey on any property they wish to buy.  Mortgage valuations and surveys are different, and buyers often confuse them.  A mortgage valuation is requested by the lender to assess the value of the house on which a mortgage is being requested.  Surveys are commissioned privately and are optional – but highly recommended.  They cost in the region of £400 – £1,500 and are carried out by independent and impartial qualified professionals, giving you the peace of mind that you can make a confident and informed decision about any property you are buying. Paying for a survey in the first instance can be much more cost-effective – and less stressful – than deciding not to commission one.  This research shows that substantial savings can be negotiated with the seller if the buyer receives a negative survey – which can far outweigh the cost of the survey in the first place, not to mention the cost of any unforeseen repairs that might have been highlighted in a survey.”

If you are looking for advice or assistance regarding purchasing or selling property, contact our property experts now, or you can find useful information on our web pages.  You can also get a competitive quotation of your costs might be by using our conveyancing calculator.

Author: Caroline Murray, partner and head of the property department.

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