House hunters ruled by heart over head, leading to surprise maintenance costs

TrustMark House Reality Check InfographicNew research from TrustMark, the government-endorsed ‘find a tradesman’ scheme for all trades in and around the home, has revealed what house hunters look out for – and what they don’t look out for – when viewing a potential home.

Worryingly, a significant number of homebuyers would not consider looking for obvious signs of damp (62%), check the quality of the drainage (66%), or look for other signs of trouble to come such as poor water pressure (72%). Over half of those polled would not look for a new boiler (53%) in a property and 45% do not look out for modern wiring.

The research shows that these oversights can prove extremely costly. The average spend on rectifying problems was over £2,900, a cost which could be avoided by looking out for obvious issues. With 1.07 million homes bought in 2013, this represents over £3 billion each year.

What’s more, over 40% of homeowners only paid for the basic survey on their homes, which might not pick up on even more costly problems. Instead, house hunters are looking for ‘frills’ before function, with over a fifth looking out for assets like high ceilings and curb appeal, feature fireplaces or a mature garden.

Almost twice as many people look for good carpets and flooring (32%), which are easily and cost effectively changed, than look out for drafts (19%), which can point to more costly repairs like replacing windows, or adding insulation.

In light of these findings, and to help house hunters avoid costly mistakes, TrustMark has launched its ‘Reality Check’ – a series of vital considerations that everyone looking for a property should be aware of –

Liz Male, chairman of TrustMark, said: “Of course everybody wants a beautiful home and there are lots of things to consider when making such a huge commitment, but house hunters must take a reality check and avoid rushing into a purchase based on ‘love at first sight’.

“When the rose-tinted spectacles go on, we look past things we don’t want to see, even things that can be seen with an untrained eye such as old boilers, damp and old wiring. These can all turn into expensive pieces of work to take on, especially after the enormous outlay of a house purchase. The TrustMark ‘Reality Check’ is a list put together with the advice of our members to give house hunters a helping hand in identifying potential issues.”

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