A sobering statistic is that the number of house sales falling through before completion is apparently rising, year on year. It rose to almost 40% last year, but if Housecheckr err on the side of positivity that means 60% of property transactions were successful.
The figures for successful completion, we’d imagine, will be even higher for new build properties, which sell faster, as they are chain-free with many incentives, like Help to Buy.
Our focus is on issues that can crop up after sales, whether they’re new build, modern or period properties.
Any conveyancing solicitor and mortgage broker will advise that you do your homework. After all, you and the financiers are investing money into an asset and their job is to make sure the investment is sound.
At their most basic, mortgage companies will provide mortgage valuations, which may be suitable if you’re confident that a property is free from major defects. This is called a Level One survey.
Secondly, a Home Buyer Report probes deeper and will look beyond residuals, comparables and postcodes. These are sometimes called Level 2 surveys.
Finally, a full structural survey, now called a Building Survey, will provide a detailed report on a house
Issues after sales
If you’re intent on buying a new home, a level one survey will usually suffice if the developer is reputable and registered with the likes of the NHBC.
The process you will then need to go through is called “snagging” and there are many online forums that provide checklists for this.
Snagging, simply put, is a way of checking that your new home is up to standard. This means that everything works as it should and everything looks as it should in aesthetic terms.
Common issues in new builds
Like any home, new builds can have defects from minor to serious, but the good news is that it is incumbent on your developer to fix these quickly and you can report faults for up to two years.
What are the common issues?
External doors and windows. New homeowners often have issues with new windows and doors. We have heard stories of French doors “moving” in new homes so they are difficult to close and lock. Trickle vents in windows can be badly fitted and we have seen reports of condensation within double glazed panes.
Bathrooms. You need to check WCs, bathrooms and en-suite shower rooms carefully for functionality and aesthetics. New home owners claim that low water pressure, faulty cisterns and leaking shower cubicles are the most common faults.
Internal doors. As homes “dry out” it’s often inevitable that internal doors move and may need adjusting or removing and planing to make them fit correctly. This is one of the more common complaints in new homes.
Kitchens. The heart of the home and one that you will probably spend a lot of time in. Homeowners often point to multiple issues here with kitchen taps, sinks, issues with tiling and finish. Other problems like no holes to accommodate the pipes and cables for washing machines and dishwashers in kitchen units are common. Again, a site foreman or one of the team can easily sort this for you providing you report it promptly. Kitchen units, like the property’s internal and external doors, may need some adjustments too.
Reception rooms. Common issues here include ill-fitting electrical points, low quality floor fittings. If you’ve paid extra for these, you can take action but longer term, many new home owners upgrade flooring upstairs and downstairs.
What about older stock?
Older homes are generally more prone to problems after sale. You may not pick this up when viewing and making offers, but, after moving in, they may become apparent. Which include most of the issues you may experience in a new build.
Boilers and heating systems are a common issue. Unlike the new builds, with a new energy efficient combi boiler and thermostatically controlled radiators, that Victorian property may have a boiler that has not been serviced or maintained in years. You need to assess whether replacing would be a better option than making do with stored hot water and an inefficient and expensive heating system.
Damp may be an issue. Many homeowners see damp as a common issue in older properties. This can be due to condensation which can affect airtight, modern homes. Water ingress from roofs and foundations needs to be remedied, but better air circulation can often improve damp and mould caused by condensation. A reputable builder or surveyor can help identify any issues.
Property is a major investment and you need to differentiate in a new build and older home whether the issues are serious (subsidence and Japanese knotweed) or minor (low water pressure, doors that don’t fit snugly) and take expert advice throughout the home buying process.
Remember - Housecheckr are not dependent on the house sale going through.