Advice to buyers: check, check and check again before takong transfer

When a buyer takes over a property, it is absolutely essential that he or she checks it thoroughly, testing all electrics, locks, windows, doors, down pipes, drains and the rest, says Lanice Steward, MD of Anne Porter Knight Frank.

“If the buyer finds himself in a position where the seller has apparently misrepresented the home or overlooked defects, it is tempting to think that under the threat of non-disclosure he will be able to get the seller to pay for repairs. In practice, non-disclosure is very hard to prove because the seller has to have known about the defect and, in any case, litigation is expensive and time consuming.”

Steward said that she has had cases where, even on brand new homes, rubble was found blocking the drain pipes, the doors did not swing or close properly, electric plugs were dysfunctional, the cornices were pulling away from the ceiling and damp was found beneath the floors. She has even, she said, had a new home where the WC flushed with boiling hot water.

“The potential buyer has to check, check and check again. Unfortunately, nine out of ten snag complaints crop up on occupation after transfer. If the development is new, these defects are covered by a guarantee but that is not the case with older properties.”

Checks, she added, are especially important before the owner allows a tenant into his property because he should know whether the problems were there before the tenant moved in or whether the tenant caused the problem. Again, if it is a new property the tenant should, via the owner at once report problems he discovers on occupation.

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