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5 Buying and Selling Property

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1. Introduction

2. Dealing with estate agents

3. Problems with estate agents

4. Offers, exchange of contract and completion

5. What the price should include

6. Problems with solicitors and conveyancers

7. Problems with the survey

Four types of survey report are available and they will give you different amounts of information and detail.

  • A Home Condition Report, which a seller can provide as part of the HIP. This gives basic information about the condition of the property, but does not include a valuation or recommendations on repairs.
  • A valuation by a mortgage lender, which tells the lender whether it would be able to recover the value of the loan if the property had to be sold. It is not a report on the condition of the property, and as a buyer you should not rely on it to tell you what is wrong with the property.
  • A ‘house-buyer’s report’ is more detailed, and provides information on the condition of the property in a standard format. It also includes a valuation and a figure for buildings insurance purposes.
  • A building survey is the most thorough type of survey. It can look into your specific concerns and, for example, the potential to alter or adapt the property.

If you are a buyer, you should check carefully what a survey covers and what it doesn’t (for example, whether parts of the property haven’t been checked because the surveyor couldn’t get access to them).

All qualified surveyors should be members of a professional association. Most surveyors who do residential work belong to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – see ‘Further help’ for its details.

If you lose money because of a surveyor’s negligence (for example, the house you have bought has problems that the survey should have shown up), RICS has a complaints procedure and arbitration scheme, which you can use if the surveyor is an RICS member.

Under the scheme, you and the surveyor each provide information about the case. The arbitrator may also arrange for an expert to prepare a technical report on the property. The arbitrator’s decision is legally binding on both sides, so both you and the surveyor must do what it says. You can claim compensation of up to £50,000 if the defect means the market value of the property is less than you paid.

If you can’t or don’t want to use arbitration, you can sue the surveyor for negligence, but this will be more expensive and more complicated.

8. Buying a newly built home

9. Leasehold, freehold and commonhold properties

10. Mortgage and money problems

11. Neighbour disputes and anti-social behaviour

12. Further Help

13. About this leaflet

The leaflets in this series give you an outline of your legal rights. They are not a complete guide to the law and are not intended to be a guide to how the law will apply to you or to any specific situation. The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since this was printed, so information in it may be incorrect or out of date.

If you have a problem, you will need to get more information or personal advice to work out the best way to solve it. See ‘Further help’ for sources of information and advice.

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Shelter.


Leaflet Version: December 2008

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