Homebuyers spend thousands fixing ‘hidden horrors’

19th May 2014

Today’s buoyant property market is putting buyers under pressure to buy a home without checking it properly for damage, leaving many with hefty repair bills after moving in.

According to new research from LV= home insurance among those who have recently bought a home, buyers are having to pay out thousands to fix problems they knew nothing about during the sale.

On average, those who bought a home this year will spend £4,205 fixing a range of hidden problems such as damp, rot and even structural defects.

These hidden horrors have been a nasty surprise to thousands of buyers. Among those who purchased their property this year, almost half, at 49%, discovered damage or problems after moving in to their new home that was not disclosed by the previous owners. The most common issues include plumbing problems, such as blocked pipes, faulty electrics and damaged drains.

The problem has been exacerbated as the housing market has become more buoyant and buyers feel pressured to make an offer without thoroughly checking a property. Of those who bought a property this year, one in five say they were pressured to make a decision virtually immediately or they would risk losing the sale.

Thousands of buyers are now making an offer during the first viewing, with one in ten of those who bought a property since the start of the year made an offer straight away. This leaves little time for checking a property for defects and almost two fifths, at 39%, say they did not have time to check the property thoroughly before making an offer.

Many of those who bought a property recently believe that the seller deliberately hid issues from them. Close to a third, at 29% of those who bought this year and discovered damage or problems after the sale, believe that the seller deliberately concealed the issues in order to secure a sale. The most common tactics employed included painting over mould, moving furniture to cover problems such as damaged floors and hiding damage behind pictures. Some buyers even reported that at some of the viewings they went on the sellers would not let them view certain rooms in the property.

Many Brits mistakenly believe that it is the seller’s responsibility to disclose any problems with a property upfront but it is in fact the buyer’s responsibility to investigate the condition of a property before buying it. Any damage that occurs after a sale may be covered by home insurance but this is dependent on when the damage occurred.

Selwyn Fernandes, managing director of LV= home insurance, comments: “Buying a home is a huge investment and yet many buyers now feel pressured to rush into a sale without checking a property thoroughly. Serious faults are difficult to identify and can be very costly to put right. It is worth getting the professionals in to survey the condition of a property before exchanging contracts to make sure you are fully aware of any issues with the property. Home insurance will not cover you for damage that occurred before the sale but it may cover you for problems that happen afterwards, such as water damage resulting from faulty pipework.”

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