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Survey? Or No Survey?

A common question buyers often ask is ‘Do I really need a survey?’

There is a long-held principle in English property law of Caveat Emptor or “buyer beware”. At exchange of contracts the buyer is bound to purchase the property as it stands, before this point a buyer is under no legal obligation to proceed if they are not satisfied with the condition of the property.

In 2014 the sale of Laughton Manor was litigated in the Courts (Hardy v Griffiths [2014] EWHC 3947 (ChD)). The High Court upheld the Caveat Emptor rule and this has now been reinforced by the Court of Appeal.

This case saw the Buyers cancel their purchase of Laughton Manor after a survey revealed penetrating damp, rot and timber decay in the £3.6million home.

The problem was that they did this after exchange of contracts had taken place rather than before.

The Court ruled that the Buyers compensate the Sellers damages for breach of contract as well as forfeit their £150,000 deposit.

The sellers had an 'unconditional right' to cancel the contract when the buyers failed to pay the balance of the deposit or complete on time.

It is therefore paramount buyers investigate the condition of the property fully prior to exchange of contracts. Many buyers feel they can rely upon their ‘lender’s survey’ but this is a false pretence as the lender is merely looking after its own interest and instructs a surveyor or valuer to carry out a valuation.

Whilst Solicitors investigate the title of the property and ensure there are no legal issues surrounding your purchase, remember, it is very rare they visit the property and are not trained to detect structural defects.

Maitland Walker always recommends our clients instruct a surveyor soon after or even before an offer is accepted, whatever size or price. To find a RICS accredited surveyor and obtain more information visit: http://www.ricsfirms.com/