It is our experience home owners get themselves worked up into virtual panic mode when a House Surveyor starts asking questions. This is human but rather silly and can be easily addressed if you follow a few simple guidelines.
So, you are selling your home. A Buyer has been found and now either a Valuer or a private Surveyor are at your home. What happens now? The simple answer is wait and see as the Valuer/Surveyor will ask questions if they wish. If they do not then perhaps silence is golden.
A better answer is for you to take an component of control and begin a dialogue. How could you do this?
Good morning. Come in. Perhaps we can start by me answering the questions I am sure you have? Would you like a coffee? This is a wise and well tested route to take.
So what exactly might those questions be?
Questions naturally sub-divide into several differing categories, namely –
Q1. Tenure? Is the home Freehold or Leasehold? If leasehold then what are the basic terms of the tenancy?
Q2. Are all usual mains sets connected? Are only electric and gas metered?
Q3. What private sets are connected (if any)?
Q4. How old is the boiler and when was it last professionally serviced and can I see the service certificate?
Q5. When were wiring and plumbing provide and can I see certification to verify this?
Q6. If private drainage – is the system shared and when was it last serviced and/or emptied?
Q7. Have you had Insurance Claims and has the home been structurally underpinned?
Q8. Has the plot or home ever been flooded?
Q9. Do any rights of way, easements, wayleaves, restrictive covenants exist?
Q10. What guarantees or warranties pass with the character and service apparatus?
Q11. How old is the home?
Q12. Has it been changed, improved or extended? complete details of each please.
Q13. When were these works completed and by whom?
Q14. Did you get required Consents and Permissions for each alteration and can we see certification, plans etc..?
Q15. Is the home within a Conservation Area, Smoke Control Area or other restrictive category?
Q16. Is the home a Listed Building?
Q17. Have any specialist treatments or works been completed (damp, wall-ties, radon gas,….)
Q18. Is the home designated under the Defective Premises Act?
Q19. What thermal and energy improvements have been completed, when and by whom?
Q20. Do any on-site trees have Preservation Orders upon them?
Are these types of questions so daunting? If no then you probably do not need any advise on how to answer them. However, if you consider them to be hard, and you really do not know the answers, then may I suggest answers along these lines —
Q1 has several typical possible answers –
A1. I own a long lease starting in 1995 for 125 years at a Ground Rental of 100pa (pounds Sterling) and the current Maintenance and sets charges are estimated at about 1,200pa (pounds Sterling) which is paid monthly in arrears. I do not own a portion of the Freehold.
A2. I really do not know. I can ring my husband to see if he knows?
A3. Leasehold but I do not know the details.
A4. Do not know but if you ring Joe Brown at Acme Management Company in Southampton on 9999 123456 they will tell you what you need to know.
Never say something that is not factual. Simply say you do not know. You can see from these four answers that any reply is good. However, if you lie, guess or provide inaccurate data then later legal verifications will detect your false replies and your creditability will suffer. The Surveyor may revise all data you have supplied and so your Buyers Survey Report might could become needlessly pessimistic. It fact your poor replies could make the difference between a buyer withdrawing or proceeding. Often it is the perception of problems or irregularities that causes possible buyers to withdraw.
Let me illustrate a perfect answer for Question 1:
I occupy under a long leasehold agreement but we do own a pro-rata proportion of the Freehold which we collectively purchased last year. I have a lease copy here (please keep it) but you will see it was produced in 1970 and had a 999 year term at a sliding Ground Rental.
Management is via a Residents Association of one person from each of the couples that occupy the six flats. For outside skill we consult with PROinspect in Bishops Waltham. They advised a sinking fund be produced for expected flat roof recovering in two years time and that fund currently stands at 3,000 (pounds Sterling).
The Building was assessed for Asbestos risks only two years ago and a copy of the certificate provided is here for you to keep.
The above answer assumes a large degree of understanding by the non-legal and non-surveyor resident but do not worry if your answers would have been that you have no real knowledge. The effect of your without of knowledge is not serious; it simply method the Surveyor will have to work a bit harder and glean information from other supplies such as the Home Information Pack, the Estate Agent or your Solicitor. Vague answers might have placed him in the position of having to make a decision on the veracity of everything you said.
I may be biased but I do believe that for the little effort needed to get prepared you can make the Surveyors life so much easier that he will greatly appreciate it. Why make your buyers’ Surveyor wince at your fleeting negative replies when, with a little effort, he can go away smiling because he has an easier life today? My advice – get prepared.
In reality the typical, average, standard home, mainly Freehold in England, will produce a simple 5 to 10 minute interview that is fairly painless. It really is not worth getting worried about. However, it might just pay dividends to speak to your Agent and/or Solicitors to get some basic data in readiness for the Surveyor or Valuer.