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Would I lie to you?

Honesty is the best policy for sellers …..

With lockdown beginning to ease and more people looking to sell their home, it appears that many sellers are keeping certain problems with their home a secret in the hope of increasing their chances of a sale. A recent survey of 1,000 British people has uncovered the issues homeowners would not disclose, despite them being legal obligations.

Almost half (47%) of those asked admit that they would not disclose any issues with their neighbours in an effort to increase their chances of a sale on their home. However, it is a legal obligation to disclose issues that have involved official bodies – such as noise complaints to the council.

Over 1 in 8 (13%) of homeowners wouldn’t notify a possible house buyer of increased crime sprees, such as local burglarieswhich again, they are legally obliged to. Similarly, more than 1 in 8 (13%) stated they wouldn’t make the possible house buyer aware of issues with surface damage to the home, such as a broken fence or bad paintwork, which could cost the future home buyer an average of £600 to fix.

6% would not disclose structural damage of their home. With the average repair cost for subsidence, which is the most common structural issue, costing between £10,000 – £15,000, it should come as no surprise that many buyers could seek compensation for not being informed about known structural damage of the property.

It’s very concerning the number of people who would hide information regarding their property to potential buyers. We advocate being as honest as possible to make sure the buyer has everything they need to make the right decision. Not doing so could cost a seller so much more, as buyers could look to seek compensation and repair costs.

The 2008 Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations requires a seller to inform their estate agent – and any potential buyer – of material information that may affect an average consumer’s transactional decision, not only to buy a property but even an omission that may affect a potential buyer’s decision to view a property.

This will include issues a seller may have with their boundaries or other disputes with neighbours; notices of any developments nearby; whether the correct approvals have been obtained for building works such as building regulations or the freeholders consent for alterations such as a loft conversion; any significant occurrences at the property, such as a murder or a suicide; and details of any major defects you are aware of. White lies or vagueness, can rebound even after you have moved out, as a buyer can still legally seek compensation.

So there we have it – Honesty really is the best policy!

By Chris Willey
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