Hidden faults cost homebuyers dearRectifying problems costs £2,500 on average

24 April 2008

Not viewing a property thoroughly could cost buyers up to £10,000, according to new Which? research.

A slowdown in property sales means vendors keen to sell may hide faults, so buyers need to be savvy.

A Which? survey reveals that a quarter of people who bought homes in the past five years found faults with their home after moving in.

Those problems cost an average of £2,500 to rectify, but one in 10 of the homebuyers in our survey spent more than £10,000 putting things right.

Almost a third of those who found faults said they had missed a problem because it hadn’t occurred to them to look.

Problems

The main issues were:

  • poor heating
  • damp
  • badly fitting windows and doors
  • roofing problems.

Common cover-ups include painting over damp, putting furniture in front of cracks, or rugs over floor problems.

Estate agents

While estate agents mustn't actually mislead buyers, they aren’t obliged to reveal problems.

Which? recommends asking direct questions, and we've drawn up a checklist for homebuyers. 

It’s clear the current property buying system isn’t working properly and Which? wants to see homebuyers get more information about the condition of a property upfront.

House buying inquiry

We have called on the government to set up an independent inquiry into the whole house-buying process.

Which? editor Neil Fowler said: ‘When viewing a new home, try not to let your heart rule your head and treat it as a building that needs inspecting.

‘If you do spot faults, don’t be put off buying, but at least get a professional opinion, and use this to renegotiate the price – you could save yourself thousands of pounds.’