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money scripts: house buying

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In common with a lot of people, I’ve grown up with some scripts relating to money. By this I mean things that I have absorbed in childhood that I have never questioned. One of those things cropped up during my current house purchase.

Somewhere in my life I have learnt that ‘you should always have a full survey carried out on a house’.

For background information, there are basically three types of survey:

  1. Mortgage Valuation Report – how much is the house worth?
  2. Homebuyers Report – what are the major problems with the house?
  3. Building Survey – what are major and minor problems with the house?

Obviously, as the surveys become more detailed, they become more expensive. With my combination of house price and mortgage company, the choices I had were £250 for a valuation, £500 for a homebuyers report and £950 for a building survey.

The house that I’m buying is a small late 19th / early 20th century terraced house. The sort that’s fairly common in my area and right across the Midlands and north of England. Most people are advised to have a ‘homebuyer’s report’ as a kind of third way, particularly if they’re not planning on doing any alterations. This is how I was advised. By the mortgage broker, two people from the surveyor’s firm, the estate agent and by almost everyone I know.

Some people actually took it as a personal insult that I would actually consider having a full building survey done. I was told that “after buying a few houses, you soon recognise the major problems”. This is my first house purchase ever.

Really, I think they’re right. It would be financially more sensible to go for the cheaper option as there is unlikely to be anything wrong with the property that the homebuyer’s report wouldn’t pick up. But it’s not just about the money.

In the end, I decided that the script was pretty ingrained. I know absolutely nothing about houses, and wouldn’t recognise a problem if I saw one anyway. I’m buying on my own and need as much reassurance as I can get. Spending a few hundred pounds on researching a purchase worth tens of thousands of pounds is fine by me. I’ve had the survey done and it’s given me a list of little maintenance jobs that need doing. None of them are particularly urgent. The biggest thing is some damp in the downstairs bathroom extension, which makes sense. The house is in average condition for its age and its not falling down.

Sometimes, you really can buy peace of mind.

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