The “buyer beware” principle
Buying a property is probably the largest transaction that most people will make during their lifetimes and in addition to the purchase price (and associated costs) buyers should also consider any immediate or long term costs associated with the property such as any necessary maintenance and repairs.
Many buyers assume their mortgage lender’s valuation report doubles as a survey and will flag up any concerns. Regrettably, this is not the case and the lender’s valuation report is generally for the benefit of the mortgage lender only and therefore cannot be relied upon by a buyer, even though they meet the cost of it, and it will only confirm whether the property is a reasonable security for the lending purposes.
As there is no duty on the Seller to disclose any defects in the physical condition of the property it is recommended that buyers have a full private structural survey carried out prior to exchange of contracts. Exchange of contracts makes the matter legally binding on all parties and the buyer is deemed to accept the property in the state of repair and condition at that date. If any defects are highlighted in the survey report this can be invaluable in any price negotiations and will help the buyer to avoid any unpleasant and costly surprises after completion.
Svetlana Humphris, an Associate Licensed Conveyancer in Mullis & Peake’s Residential Property department, said:
“I always advise a client of the principle “buyer beware” which means it is the buyer’s responsibility to carry out any inspections (usually with the assistance of a surveyor) to ensure the property is in a satisfactory physical condition before exchange of contracts. Buying a house is one of the most stressful and daunting processes and as solicitors, we are only instructed to check the legal title to the property and undertake searches, if required. We are not qualified nor able to check or advise upon the physical state of repair and condition of the property. The Mullis & Peake conveyancing team keep clients at the heart of everything we do and do their utmost to make the process clearer and smoother. Please feel free to contact the team at Mullis & Peake on 01277 245015 or 01708 784000.”