Nervous about your house survey?

Put your mind at ease by being in the know

If you’re selling your home, you may feel a tad nervous about its condition. Of course, you want to get the most for your property, and because you’ve invested so much time and money in selling your house, it’s natural to feel concerned when it is surveyed. It’s also likely that a few issues have slipped your attention.

More than one in ten house sales fall through due to problems detailed in the survey, so if you do know of any problems, it’s vital you’re upfront about them to avoid wasting the time and money you’ve already spent on selling your property

In this article, we look at some survey misconceptions, the common problems uncovered by surveyors, and what you can do to prepare your home for a comprehensive survey.

Will the buyer’s surveyor devalue my home?

Naturally, you might be worried about a surveyor determining your home’s value to be less than its asking price. However, though it may seem counterintuitive, there is no such thing as a ‘devaluation’. However, you might have to accept a lower offer than your asking price if it turns out to be higher than your home’s current market value.

If the mortgage valuations turns out to be less than the agreed sale price - which doesn’t necessarily reflect the property’s market value - the sale can move forward provided the buyer has the finances to make up the difference. So, if your home’s agreed sale price is £500,000 but its market value is £490,000, the buyer would likely end up paying around £495,000.

Common problems found by RICS Chartered Surveyors

If your home seems to be in reasonable condition, you probably don’t need to worry about a surveyor uncovering any serious issues. However, some problems can be hard to notice and yet make all the difference when it comes to closing a sale. The most common issues include:

  • Damp

Penetrating and rising damp can be enough to put people off buying your home. Damp can be caused by a range of underlying issues, such as excess moisture, poor ventilation and plumbing problems. One of the most common causes of damp is condensation, a problem that’s usually easy to repair.

  • Roof problems

Severe roof problems are hard to ignore. But issues such as poor ventilation or inadequate insulation can easily be overlooked. Many potential buyers will want to know about your property’s energy efficiency. If there are any issues, it’s better to address them before showing people around. You can repair a broad array of roof problems for a reasonable fee, especially when considering it could make all the difference.

  • Electrical issues

Property hunters and investors will undoubtedly check the electrics before committing to an investment worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. It would be wise to have an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) undertaken by a qualified electrician to uncover problems and their causes.

  • Heating system issues

For your own safety, you should have an annual gas safety check and boiler service. If you don’t have any recent certificates, now’s the time to get in touch with a team of certified professionals. That way, you won’t have to worry about the surveyor noticing anything amiss.

  • Building regulation approvals

If a previous owner altered your house, whether it was a bathroom renovation or an extension, you might want to make sure they complied with the relevant building regulations. If they didn’t, you can get a building control approval retrospectively.

  • Cracks

Small cracks are enough to worry potential buyers who might suspect they’re a sign of a bigger problem. Instead of letting cracks turn people away, get them repaired. Most cracks aren’t serious, but it’s worth having them inspected and fixed by a professional.

  • Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed is an invasive plant which currently affects about 5% of residential properties throughout the UK. This weed isn’t usually harmful for your health, but it can lead to structural issues, damp and a range of other costly problems. It’s also notoriously difficult to get rid of, which means it’s best to have it removed professionally.

How to prepare for a home survey

Whatever you do, don’t try to cover up small problems before the surveyor arrives. You should focus on trying to make the process go as smoothly and quickly as possible. Home surveys are a normal part of the purchase process, so make sure you’re prepared by:

  • Clearing your property

Make sure your property is clear of clutter to give the surveyor easy access to all areas. You might want to organise care for the kids and pets to reduce the risk of accidents and distractions. You’ll need to ensure the loft, the garage and any sheds are accessible.

  • Getting your documents ready

Make sure documents like your Energy Performance Certificate and Planning Permission Notices are readily available for your surveyor. You may also want to dig out your Building Regulation Completion Certificate, Gas Safety Certificate and Electrical Test Certificate.

  • Putting some elbow grease into cleaning

Getting rid of the clutter can make your home look more appealing. In some cases, it can even increase its value. Before the surveyor arrives, give the property a deep clean to eliminate signs of mould, stains, dirty tiles, and anything else that could signal a problem.

  • Removing objects from the windowsills

Surveyors will check the fireplace and window sills for signs of damage, so you might want to remove all objects and ornaments to help them work efficiently. The surveyor will need to see whether you have double glazing, making easy access vital.

  • Voicing your concerns

Be upfront with the surveyor regarding any suspected or known problems. Surveyors know how to find just about all defects, which means any attempt at hiding an issue will just cause delays.

  • Repairing minor problems

Depending on the underlying cause, small issues like mould, hairline cracks, damaged tiles and dripping taps can be repaired easily and affordably. Don’t attempt to fix serious problems without professional help, but address the less severe problems before the surveyor arrives to show your home in its best light.

  • Inspecting the property’s exterior

Without attempting anything dangerous, you might want to check the condition of your gutters and roof. If you can see signs of algae growth, cracked tiles, vegetation or blockages, you might have a problem that needs fixing sooner rather than later.

  • Checking the electrics

You should call an electrician to professionally inspect your electrics. Fiddling with wires without the right training could put you in harm’s way. You can, however, make sure all your outlets and lights are functioning as they should and put small issues right in time for your home survey.

  • Moving furniture away from walls

Because the surveyor needs easy access to all visible areas of your home, you should move all your large items of furniture away from the walls, especially given that all surfaces will be inspected for signs of damage.

Learn more about home surveys

Follow the advice given in this article, and you’ll be able to present your property in its best light. Be honest with the surveyor, make sure they can easily access all areas of your home, and repair any small problems to give a good impression from the offset.

Most importantly - don’t worry. House surveys are a completely normal part of the purchasing process. If you disagree with any claims laid out in the survey report, you can always get a second opinion.

If you have any other concerns or want a professional to put your mind at ease, get in touch with our property experts.