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Homebuyers spend thousands fixing 'hidden horrors'

Press release: 16/05/2014

  • Almost half (49%) of those who bought a new home since the beginning of the year discovered unexpected damage after moving in
  • Almost a third (29%) of those who bought in 2014 believe the seller deliberately concealed problems with the property during the sale
  • New home-owners spend £4,205 on average fixing 'hidden' problems with their property
  • Tactics sellers [1] use include painting over mould (43%), moving furniture to cover problems during viewings (26%) and hiding damage behind pictures (9%)

Today's buoyant property market is putting buyers under pressure to buy a home without checking it properly for damage, leaving many with hefty repair bills after moving in.

According to new research from LV= home insurance among those who have recently bought a home, buyers are having to pay out thousands to fix problems they knew nothing about during the sale. On average, those who bought a home this year will spend £4,205 fixing a range of hidden problems such as damp, rot and even structural defects.

These hidden horrors have been a nasty surprise to thousands of buyers. Among those who purchased their property this year, almost half (49%) discovered damage or problems after moving in to their new home that was not disclosed by the previous owners. The most common issues include plumbing problems, such as blocked pipes, (38%), faulty electrics (25%) and damaged drains (21%).

The problem has been exacerbated as the housing market has become more buoyant and buyers feel pressured to make an offer without thoroughly checking a property. Of those who bought a property this year, one in five (20%) say they were pressured to make a decision virtually immediately or they would risk losing the sale. Thousands of buyers are now making an offer during the first viewing, with one in ten of those who bought a property since the start of the year made an offer straight away. This leaves little time for checking a property for defects and almost two fifths (39%) say they did not have time to check the property thoroughly before making an offer [2].

Many of those who bought a property recently believe that the seller deliberately hid issues from them. Close to a third (29%) of those who bought this year and discovered damage or problems after the sale, believe that the seller deliberately concealed the issues in order to secure a sale. The most common tactics employed included painting over mould (43%), moving furniture to cover problems such as damaged floors (26%) and hiding damage behind pictures (9%). Some buyers even reported that at some of the viewings they went on the sellers would not let them view certain rooms in the property.

As well as having to pay out for expensive repairs, many new buyers find they often have to replace items they thought were included in the purchase price. One in ten buyers who bought this year (10%) say their seller took items from their new property which they thought were part of the sale, and a further 6% said that their new home had been completely stripped bare. Items taken by sellers over the past five years include everything from the curtains and blinds (40%), to light bulbs (36%), integrated appliances such as dishwashers (19%), as well as carpets (14%), doorknobs (7%) and even toilet seats (6%).

Many Brits mistakenly believe that it is the seller's responsibility to disclose any problems with a property upfront but it is in fact the buyer's responsibility to investigate the condition of a property before buying it. Any damage that occurs after a sale may be covered by home insurance but this is dependent on when the damage occurred.

Buying a home is a huge investment and yet many buyers now feel pressured to rush into a sale without checking a property thoroughly. Serious faults are difficult to identify and can be very costly to put right. It is worth getting the professionals in to survey the condition of a property before exchanging contracts to make sure you are fully aware of any issues with the property. Home insurance will not cover you for damage that occurred before the sale but it may cover you for problems that happen afterwards, such as water damage resulting from faulty pipework.

Selwyn Fernandes, Managing Director of LV= home insurance

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For further information please contact:

Vanessa Chance, vanessa.chance@LV.com, 0208 256 6996 / 07947 380074


Notes:

All research unless stated otherwise was conducted by PCP research between 15 and 30 April 2014. PCP questioned a representative sample of 1,008 recent homebuyers who had bought a home in the past five years about their experience of buying a property.

  1. Source: PCP. Over the past five years sellers have hidden damage by painting over mould (43%), moving furniture to conceal problems (26%) and hiding damage behind pictures.
  2. Source: PCP. Of those who bought a property in 2014, 8% of buyers didn't feel they had enough time to look at the property in detail, while a further 31% said they had checked but not very thoroughly.

About LV=

LV= employs 5,800 people and serves over 5.5 million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trade unions.

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.