The trend for buyers to use desktop and virtual valuations due COVID-19 could store up problems for the future, Alison Neate from East Midlands law firm Smith Partnership has warned.
She added that buyers need to be patient and wait for an in-person valuation, rather than rushing through the process.
Neate said: “For most property purchases, particularly those facilitated by a mortgage, a valuation or survey is a necessary step in the buying process and a requirement in lender’s conditions.
“Under the lockdown restrictions however, surveyors were not permitted to enter properties to conduct surveys or valuations, which is a main cause for delay.
“Buyers therefore, could have been tempted to avoid delays by just relying on a desktop or drive by valuation.”
Some lenders offer valuations based on a comparison of similar properties in the area or on a drive-by view.
Although these can be conducted remotely, following COVID-19 guidelines, they do not allow a buyer to pursue a claim against the surveyor for a breach of contract if problems were later discovered.
Neate added: “Typically, conditions such as damp, wet and dry rot or woodworm are not visible on a surface inspection, but a survey could uncover them.
“The common law principle of buyer beware applies in house purchases, which means that if these conditions began to cause an issue after a sale, it would be at the buyer’s risk and therefore, unlikely that they would be able to obtain any redress from the seller.
“The buyer will be faced with the cost of putting things right, which depending on how serious the problem is, can be expensive, dramatically reduce the value of the property or render it unsalable.
“Without a survey, there is no opportunity to look to the surveyor for compensation either, but with one, a claim can be made against their practice’s professional indemnity insurance.”
This post has originally been featured in Property Wire.