Why You Should Get a Building Survey Before Buying at Auction – Property Auction Dates


By James Brook FRICS. James Brook FRICS is the co-founder of Novello Chartered Surveyors and one of the youngest people to hold a prestigious RICS Fellowship. In 2020 aged just 29 he won the RICS Chartered Surveyor of the Year Award and Novello Chartered Surveyors has grown from four to 28 employees in just three years. James enjoys using his expertise to advise people through the home-buying process and he has a fantastic reputation across the industry with solicitors, estate agents and clients for his frank and friendly expert advice.

When it comes to buying a property at auction, there are pros and cons to getting a building survey. Conducted by a chartered surveyor, a building survey provides impartial advice on the property’s value, each area of the property, and any potential issues, such as the roof, walls, insulation, mould, and structural integrity – to name but a few.

Unlike estate agent sales, auctions require due diligence beforehand as bids at auction are legally binding. This is particularly important because auctions often attract properties with unique features or potential issues.

By getting a building survey done, you can avoid nasty surprises and receive expert, impartial advice. It’s a great way to ensure that you make an informed decision and avoid potential issues in the future.

Benefits of getting a building survey for an auction property

When purchasing a home, the mortgage lender will typically dispatch a valuer to assess the property’s value against the asking price. However, it is also recommended that the buyer arranges for a building survey to ensure there are no underlying issues with the property. If the survey reveals problems, the buyer can use this information to renegotiate the asking price or request that the seller addresses the issues before the sale.

In an auction setting, the approach is slightly different. Since the property’s final sale price is unknown, it is advisable to commission a building survey to obtain an accurate valuation. This approach can help buyers to secure a mortgage in principle before the auction, which is crucial if you are not planning on buying the property with cash.

There are several benefits to getting a survey done on an auction property; most importantly, it can prevent you from overpaying for a property with hidden defects or issues. Without a building survey, buyers risk purchasing a property that is unmortgageable, as contracts are exchanged once the hammer falls at auctions. By obtaining a building survey, you can decide your budget and maximum bid before the auction so you can go in feeling prepared. It also allows you to put in an offer before the auction if you are really interested in the property.

But is worth spending money on a survey?

While there is a risk of spending £300+ on a building survey for a property that you ultimately get outbid on, it’s still better than purchasing a property without any knowledge of its value or potential issues. Going in blind could result in buying a property with significant problems or paying an overvalued, inflated price, which is a much more disappointing outcome than spending circa £300. By getting a building survey, you can make an informed decision and avoid potential problems in the long run.

How to find a chartered surveyor you can trust

When looking for a surveyor to complete your building survey, make sure they are Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Chartered surveyors have undergone in-depth, stringent training to become RICS qualified and hiring one will give you peace of mind that you have the best-trained person for the job.

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