10NOV

Surveys can help solicitors identify legal problems

Thu 10 Nov 2016 by Lorraine Imhoff

It is estimated that around 80% of home buyers do not commission a RICS HomeBuyers Report when buying a property.

This alarming statistic results is hard to comprehend.

The majority of conveyancing solicitors would, if asked, advise a client to obtain either a HomeBuyers Report or Building Survey before proceeding with their purchase.

Solicitors rarely promote surveys

Few solicitors actually promote surveys however which is curious as the format of  RICS surveys includes a section that can be invaluable to solicitors when building a picture of the property their client is buying. 

Solicitors advise searches are carried out into all sorts of things, some of which are really low risk such as Chancel Repair Liability.

How much does a survey cost?

The cost of a survey is nominal (a few hundred pounds) in comparison with the amount it can save the new home owner in unforeseen repair bills.

It could even identify a serious hidden structural issues that seriously compromise the value of the home.

Homeward Legal always recommends you get a survey to ensure that the property you're buying is a good investment. If you would like to discuss any aspect of surveying or conveyancing with us, give one of our friendly and professional team a call on 0800 038 6699 and we'll answer any questions you may have.

The benefits of a survey

One benefit that is often overlooked (and undersold) is the part of the survey where the surveyor records any issues that may be of concern to the solicitor.

This section is invaluable as conveyancing solicitors are expected to leave no stone unturned when carrying out the due diligence on the part of a home buyer. Often this can be challenging as despite having a mountain of paperwork collated about the property, solicitors never actually visit the property and are therefore totally reliant on the accuracy of the documentation.

If the buyer is one of the 20% who do carry out a survey, then the solicitor has the benefit of having had a "man on the ground".

What happens if you don't get a survey?

Surveyors are acutely aware of the potential ramifications of missing key information that could clue the solicitor in to any potential legal problems.

A recent case reported by one of our panel revealed a large extension to the rear of a Victorian Property in London.  The extension was a high spec. job, with a kitchen diner lean to, lots of glass, posh fittings etc.  In fact the job was so professionally completed according to the surveyor, one would almost not have thought to ask.

Curiously there was no floor plan, no evidence of the extension on the title deeds and no pictures on the agents particulars.  Had the Surveyor not reported this issue the solicitor would have been totally unaware and would have failed to raise appropriate enquiries.

Subsequent enquiries revealed missing planning permission, building regulations approval and freeholder consent. The potential financial exposure to the client ran into hundreds of thousands and the client withdrew from the purchase.

What common issues does a survey pick up?

Roof extensions, roof terraces and rear extensions without permissions are becoming increasingly common.  Absence of the correct consents could force the owner to return the property to a previous state meaning a consequent loss of value.

The moral of the story has to be to get a survey

Homeward Legal recommend Surveyor Local, our sister company, as we ensure that particularly close attention is paid to Section I of the HomeBuyer Report which addresses potential legal issues.

If you are still uncertain on whether or not to get a survey - call us on 0800 038 6699 and we can answer all your questions.

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