Sur­veyor’s top tips on how­tobe a smarter home buyer

One of York­shire’s top sur­vey­ors shares his tips, trade secrets and opin­ions in a book for buy­ers. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY NEWS -

OUT­SPO­KEN AND wellqual­i­fied, Jon Char­ters-Reid is never short of sage ad­vice or strong opin­ions on his spe­cialised sub­ject: prop­erty.

So it’s no sur­prise that the former joiner and build­ing site man­ager who is now a char­tered sur­veyor and char­tered build­ing en­gi­neer has added “au­thor” to his CV with his newly-pub­lished book How to be a Smarter House Buyer.

Although it is packed full of tips, it is not your usual buy­ers’ man­ual thanks to a rig­or­ous ex­am­i­na­tion of the hous­ing mar­ket, which Jon be­lieves is broken. “This is mainly due to the ac­tiv­i­ties of the cor­po­rate world. Big busi­ness and na­tional gov­ern­ment have both con­trib­uted to a mar­ket that is overly com­plex, in­suf­fi­ciently reg­u­lated and that fails to work on a lo­cal level,” he says.

He also blames the bur­geon­ing buy-to-let mar­ket for dis­tort­ing prices and his book in­cludes his opin­ions on this and ev­ery­thing from the hous­ing short­age to in­ter­est rates and plan­ning pol­icy.

One of the big­gest is­sues for buy­ers, he be­lieves, is the qual­ity of build­ing sur­veys: “Some sur­vey­ors are work­ing for other in­ter­ested par­ties, such as the bank or build­ing so­ci­ety, and oth­ers are not ad­e­quately qual­i­fied or suf­fi­ciently knowl­edge­able about the area in which they are buy­ing. The one piece of ad­vice I re­turn to again and again is to hire a lo­cal, in­de­pen­dent sur­veyor.”

He is also wary of builders and de­votes a whole chap­ter to “De­fects and de­fec­tive builders”, which leads neatly to the rea­sons why he is in favour of more “flat­pack” fac­tory-built homes built from mod­ern ma­te­ri­als.

“In this coun­try we don’t reg­u­late builders and, as a re­sult, it is rife with un­qual­i­fied and in­ex­pe­ri­enced builders,” says Jon, who is cam­paign­ing to per­suade the gov­ern­ment to li­cence the trade.

Here are some of Jon’s tips on how to be a smarter buyer:

Banks of­ten have their own se­lec­tion of “ap­proved” sur­vey­ors and they will en­cour­age a buyer to use one of them. Some banks then keep a large por­tion of the sur­vey fee so their mo­tive is clearly one of profit. Re­mem­ber, the banks can­not legally tell you who or who not may do your sur­vey. The Coun­cil of Mort­gage Lenders clearly states that a sur­veyor who car­ries out

READ­ING MA­TE­RIAL: a mort­gage val­u­a­tion must be a mem­ber of the Royal In­sti­tu­tion of Char­tered Sur­vey­ors. There is no men­tion of an “ap­proved panel”. So choos­ing your own lo­cal and in­de­pen­dent sur­veyor is ex­actly what you can and should do. On most of the sur­veys car­ried out by the bank, there is no in­spec­tion of the loft or roof void and the roof makes up at least a third of the struc­ture of the prop­erty, which is an­other rea­son to choose your own sur­veyor.

It is fright­en­ingly easy to raise a mort­gage and buy a house on the back of an in­ad­e­quate sur­vey. Don’t be se­duced by the low­est pos­si­ble price and be­fore ap­point­ing a sur­veyor look for pro­fes­sional ac­cred­i­ta­tions and use some­one who knows the area well. Re­mem­ber that a val­u­a­tion is not a sur­vey, it is sim­ply an opin­ion on what a prop­erty is worth for mort­gage pur­poses.

Al­ways get a sur­vey and get it first be­fore putting in an of­fer as con­di­tion af­fects price. A sur­veyor can help you de­cide if a prop­erty is over-priced and help you find a way of re­vis­ing that price to re­flect the work re­quired.

You might think that sur­vey­ing is all about older prop­er­ties but you’d be wrong. You can find some se­ri­ous de­fects lurk­ing in many a new build­ing. My own firm is find­ing as many de­fects in new homes as we do on much older prop­er­ties. I’ve seen new­build homes with­out a damp course and with drains at­tached at the wrong slop­ing an­gle. If you buy a new prop­erty, in­sist on a pro­fes­sional snag­ging list. This will ex­plain what the builder will and won’t put right. Be care­ful about buy­ing a prop­erty with a snag list that pro­tects the builder with too many get-out clauses.

Al­ways con­sider con­sult­ing an in­de­pen­dent fi­nan­cial ad­viser who will look at the en­tire mort­gage mar­ket. It’s well worth the ef­fort.

How to be a Smarter House Buyer by Jon Char­ters-Reid, £14.99 from Ama­zon. Jon runs www.sur­veys4you.co.uk in York, Wetherby and Scar­bor­ough.

Sur­veyor Jon Char­ters-Reid’s book is a mix of ad­vice and opin­ion and is avail­able in print or as a ebook.

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