HomeServe Poll: Home Owners Play Dirty to Attract Buyers

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Buyers should thoroughly inspect the property before making an offer - ask sellers to move furniture, lift floor coverings and check that heating, water and electricity is in working order.

A recent poll by HomeServe, the national home emergency service, has revealed that almost one quarter of sellers admit to lying about, or attempt to hide problems with their property to make it more appealing to potential buyers.

According to HomeServe's research, of the 24% of sellers resorting to dirty tricks to hook buyers, 8% of sellers admit to either failing to tell buyers about boiler or heating problems or lying about the age of their boiler.

The same number admits to having lied about problems with parking in their area or kept quiet about nightmare neighbours. Sellers also went as far as repairing cracks in walls (6%), temporarily patched up leaking roofs (5%) or hidden evidence of pest infestation such as mice (3%).

The worrying results are revealed as the current UK housing slump worsens. With the average time taken to sell a property reported to have doubled from 5.5 to 13.5 weeks the research suggests that a significant proportion of sellers are resorting to increasingly desperate means to attract buyers.

"It has become increasingly difficult to shift property and some sellers seem reluctant to fork out money to have these problems rectified," commented Jon Florshiem CEO of HomeServe Membership.

"Buyers should thoroughly inspect the property before making an offer - ask sellers to move furniture, lift floor coverings and check that heating, water and electricity is in working order."

Previous HomeServe research discovered that the average homebuyer is forced to cover the cost of rectifying newly discovered problems to the tune of £1,961. Luckily, companies such as HomeServe are offering homeowners fast, efficient and affordable repairs when they need it. The same research also found 60 per cent of recent buyers claimed to have uncovered a problem with their home that they expected to be uncovered in the survey undertaken when they bought their property.

Full results of the HomeServe poll showed the incidence of sellers, who covered up problems and costs that illustrates the range in cost to buyers to rectify problems.

Problem / Incidence * / Average cost buyers spend to rectify problems /

Boiler/heating / 8% / £1,064
Parking problems / 8% / -
Problems with neighbours / 8% / -
Cracks in the wall / 6% / £1412
Dampness / 5% / £1,334
Leaking roof / 5% / £884
Electrical / 4% / £1,466
Pests / 3% / £193
Problems with crime in the area / 3% / -
Plumbing / 2% / £429
Damage to wallpaper or floor coverings / 2% / £478
*=% of sellers that admit to lying about, or hiding a problem from potential buyers

Other key findings:

*Sellers in the North of England were most likely to cover up problems with their new property (42%). Sellers in this region were most likely to admit to covering up cracks in the walls (14%) and leaking roofs (12%).

*Those in the South East trying to sell their property were most likely to keep quiet about their problem neighbours (13%).

"In readiness for their completion date all buyers should ensure they have the right level of home insurance, including emergency cover as this can save them a small fortune in the event they should unearth a problem they had not anticipated," concluded Jon Florshiem.

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Emma Harvey and Wai Lang Chu
Homeserve
020 7374 3527
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