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Buy your dream home not a house of horrors

Buy your dream home not a house of horrors

Category: Home insurance

Updated: 19/05/2014
First Published: 19/05/2014

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

As house prices soar and supply severely lags behind demand, it's no wonder there's increased competition for people to secure their dream property. But there are some 'hidden' surprises in store for many as they fail to carry out the correct checks before they put in an offer.

As people clamour to get their offers accepted many are overlooking the need for a thorough survey of the property, with research from LV= insurance revealing that 49% of those who bought a home this year discovered unexpected damage after moving in.

Problems faced include plumbing issues such as blocked pipes (38%), faulty electrics (25%) and damaged drains (21%), and on average these complications are costing buyers £4,205. Damp, rot and even structural defects are being suffered by buyers and worryingly 29% of those questioned believe the seller deliberately concealed problems with the property during the sale.

Crafty sellers are disguising problems using tactics such as painting over mould (43%), moving furniture to cover problems during viewings (26%) and hiding damage behind pictures (9%). Some buyers claim they weren't even allowed to view certain rooms.

In a calmer market, buyers may not put up with this kind of treatment, perhaps booking a second and third viewing before making a decision to put in an offer, but with such high competition many are feeling the pressure. And 20% said they were pressured into putting an offer in virtually immediately, being warned that otherwise they may lose out, with a further 39% saying they felt they weren't able to check the property thoroughly.

Further problems include 10% of those questioned claiming they had to replace items they were led to believe were included in the sale, while a further 6% said the property had been completely stripped bare. Items taken include curtains and blinds (40%) to carpets (14%) and even toilet seats (6%).

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."

When buying a property, make sure you don't feel pressurised into making an offer before you have properly checked it out. There may be a chance you could lose the deal, but there will always be another and it would be better than buying a house full of problems which could cost you a fortune later.

Also ensure that you have suitable home insurance in place as soon as the property is signed over to you, as although it may not cover previous damage, at least you will be protected against any further problems you could encounter. Do careful research, don't let anyone pressurise you and you could be enjoying your dream home rather than a house of horrors.

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