Be ‘in the know’ when buying a house

Most of us will have heard the Latin phrase ‘caveat emptor’ which means ‘let the buyer beware’. Briefly, this places the onus on a buyer to find out about any physical or legal defects relating to a property.

So what can a buyer do to ensure that they are ‘in the know’ before committing to a purchase?

It may sound obvious, but once you have had your offer accepted arrange to view the property again with a more critical eye. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller (or estate agent) questions about whether things are in good working order, how old the boiler is or when the windows were replaced – this information could assist your solicitor further down the line.

We always recommend that anyone purchasing a property has a building or Homebuyer’s survey. This will look at issues such as damp and should highlight any urgent issues that require further specialist investigation or major faults which could affect the property’s value. This information may be fundamental to negotiations on price and, most importantly, deciding whether you want to proceed with the purchase at all.

During the conveyancing process your solicitor will order searches against the property which will reveal information such as; whether or not the property is the subject of any enforcement action taken for breach of planning control, whether there is a public drain passing through the land or whether the property is affected by contaminated land. Depending on your circumstances, information contained in the searches could affect your decision to purchase, so it is important to read them carefully.

Finally, your solicitor will raise enquiries of the seller based on the available information about the property. The purpose of these enquiries is to provide you with as much detail as possible and to identify any potential legal or other issues which require further investigation before completion.

Buying a property is an exciting time and ensuring you have all the relevant information helps to ensure there are no nasty surprises.

If you are buying or selling a home please contact Jessica Wheway, Solicitor on 01562 820575 or e-mail

Thursfields’ conveyancing team are available at any of our offices and surrounding areas – Birmingham, Worcester, Kidderminster, Solihull, and Halesowen.

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