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Buying a new home? Buyer beware!

When buying your dream home, the last thing you want is to find out it has hidden defects. Or, even worse, find yourself in court for pulling out of a sale after discovering these faults.

However, in 2014, a homeowner successfully sued a couple who refused to go through with the purchase of his property after exchanging contracts. In this case[1] the couple, who attempted to rescind on the agreement after discovering that the property was rife with damp and dry rot, accused the seller of ‘reckless misrepresentation’.

The seller did not disclose information regarding the deterioration of the property to the buyers before contracts were exchanged – despite verbal enquiries being made by their estate agent.

Despite this, the judge found in favour of the seller, stating that the responsibility for finding out and investigating issues such as damp and rot lies with the purchaser. She went on to add that a full structural survey should have been undertaken by the prospective buyers before they agreed to enter into the exchange of contracts.

The judge also found that the seller did not fraudulently or recklessly misrepresent the physical condition of his home, as he probably did not know about the rising damp and rot at the time the buyers asked their questions.

The case sends a stark warning to people who fail to engage professional advice from a surveyor before purchasing a property. It also highlights the importance of obtaining such a survey, and making all necessary investigations before proceeding to exchange of contracts.

When buying a new home, your contract states that you have entered into the agreement based on your own inspection of the property. It is, therefore, not safe for you to rely on any statement made by the seller as to its condition.

If you are relying on mortgage finance, your lender may also appoint a surveyor (at your expense) to carry out and provide them with a report. While you are likely to be given a copy of this, it is for valuation purposes only and shouldn’t be relied upon to provide in-depth information on the physical state of the property.

In short, it is your responsibility to make sure you have carried out thorough investigations before proceeding to exchange of contract.

While the conveyancing team at Linder Myers cannot give advice on the physical condition of a property and its value, we have close relationships with local and national surveyors and would advise all purchasers to have a survey carried out before buying a property.

For further advice on this, or any other conveyancing matter, please get in touch with the team on 01743 218 450 and speak to a member of our team today.

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[1] Hardy v Griffiths 2014

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