Property Investment Guidance

Property Stories: ‘A survey would have revealed the true problems’ 

In this series we recount real stories, collected from our team and our clients, about issues to be aware of when buying properties outside your hometown.

We recently chatted to our old Delivery Manager, Ty about his experience of purchasing a recently renovated, good looking end-of-terrace buy to let property – only to discover a few months down the line that the previous owner had masked a big problem!  

The Background 

Ty had been searching for a rental property within a specific budget and in a relatively good condition so that he could let it quickly after purchasing it. He found a stunning Victorian property online and arranged to view it the same day.  

When I got there, the agent told me it had been recently renovated and the seller was downsizing so wanted a quick sale. The place didn’t look like it needed any work – all the better for me as I wanted to get tenants in quickly to start seeing the returns. Plus, it was priced cheaply considering the condition it was in, and the area.”  

 

The Problem 

Ty put an offer in the next morning and the seller accepted straight away. “At the time I thought I’d hit the jackpot and got on the phone to the local letting agent to get them on the hunt for tenants. 

It was winter time and there had been a lot of bad weather, from thunder to hail. The tenants moved in within a few weeks, but two months after Ty purchased the place, he got a call that brought him back to the ground.  

The tenants said brown and black damp patches had appeared on the walls on the right side of the house – the side that backs onto the gable end wall. The patches started in the upstairs bedroom and had spread to cover most of the wall.” 

Ty thought it couldn’t be possible considering how new the place had looked when he bought it. But when the tenants sent him photos he saw how bad it was. He was in disbelief – the previous owners had just had work done to the place. 

 

The Impact 

Ty spent a lot of time calling round to speak to builders and damp specialists, and met a few at the property to get their opinions and quotes to fix the problem. He ended up going back and forth to the property for a couple of weeks, disrupting both his tenants’ and his own life.  

It turned out that the renovations carried out by the previous owner had been a simple way to cover up a long-standing damp issue at the property – and that this was a common problem with end-of-terrace properties because gable end walls get hit with the brunt of the bad weather. 

Ty was also kicking himself because he’d been in such a hurry to get the place that he’d overlooked the protocol of getting a survey done to check it was in a good state before he put his name on the deeds. 

After getting estimates for what damp prevention measures he needed to do, he realised that the price he paid for the seemingly good-looking property, was far too high. He had to fork out for the damp proofing work, equivalent to at least six months’ rental profit, and was also stung because the tenants refused to pay rent during those months too! 

 

The Lesson 

Ty is now a stickler for the details and makes sure he always has a full property survey done to check for any underlying issues. Even though they are generally larger than normal, he is also reluctant to buy end-of-terrace properties again.  

 

Top tips to consider before purchasing your buy to let property

Instruct a professional to carry out a full condition survey of the property, as they’ll be able to detect any problems that could arise for you. 

When viewing end-of-terrace properties, go in with an eagle eye and perhaps even take a damp specialist with you on the second viewing to check everything is okay with the gable end wall.

– If you’ve got a property with damp issues (it’s a common problem), it’s worth spending a bit extra to get to the root of the issue rather than finding a quick fix that’s cheaper, because the problem will only come back to haunt you later. 

 

If you want to start investing in property but aren’t sure about investing in an area you don’t know,  why not rewatch our latest Property Investment Masterclass? Through this on demand webinar, we go through the areas we choose to invest in and how you can too.  Watch it here 

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