Common Things that Devalues a Property

For an individual procuring a property to live in is one of the most important purchases a buyer will make in their lifetime. For this reason, it is vital for a buyer to know what may increase or decrease the value of any potential purchase.

Before accepting an offer to buy a property a prudent buyer will commission a surveyor’s report included in which will be the surveyor’s valuation of the property. This can be done using an RICS Homebuyer Report or Building Survey Report.

There are several factors to take into consideration when carrying out a survey and valuation. These might be aesthetic in nature such as flaking paint and untidy gardens, or, stone cladding. Below we discuss, 5 common things that devalue a property...

1) Japanese Knotweed

The first is Japanese knotweed which has been described by the Environment Agency as; “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant.”   So much so, that any landowner who allows the plant to spread from their land into the wild or another’s land, “could be prosecuted or given a community protection notice for causing a nuisance.”

The plant can cause ecological damage and may be classified as controlled waste, meaning that its removal from a landowner’s property will require permission from the Environmental Agency. To kill this plant using approved herbicides usually takes up to 3 years, so both killing and removing the plant can be a costly exercise. However, not as costly as it would be if it spread onto another’s land. For these reasons, Japanese Knotweed can have a devastating effect on the value of a property. Depending on the extent and severity of the growth a property may be devalued by between 5-15%.

Icon Surveyors would therefore recommend that any seller who is aware of the presence of Japanese Knotweed removes the plant before putting the property onto the market. This can be done swiftly by a professional team that will ensure that there are preventative measures in place to stop an infestation from reoccurring.

2) Subsidence

The second-factor Icon Surveyors will consider is that of subsidence. Subsidence can be described as the sinking of the ground that supports the foundation of a property, thus causing the property to sink too. If the foundation sinks in certain parts, so too does the property. If the ground drops at different rates across the foundations further problems may arise, increasing the damage to the property and any costs that may be incurred to rectify the problem.

There are many issues that can cause subsidence, such as the roots of trees, clay soil or perhaps man-made issues including old mining areas, poorly prepared ground or foundations, damaged drains or traffic vibrations which can all cause the ground to sink. This in turn will cause cracks to appear in the building and perhaps the windows too.

Subsidence can be a serious problem and expense. The devaluation of a property with subsidence can vary, depending on the damage caused and the cost to repair it.

For this reason, Icon Surveyors would therefore recommend that both sellers and buyers appoint a surveyor to assess the property either before going onto the market or indeed before any acceptance of an offer to purchase, as a purchaser of a property can have grave difficulty finding a lender willing to grant a mortgage, and a seller might have to vastly reduce the asking price and wait for a cash buyer.

3) Illegal Alterations

The third problem that Icon Surveyors would suggest a buyer should look out for is that of illegal alterations. These are alterations to a property that have been done without first obtaining planning permission from the Local Authority to comply with several statutes pertaining to Building Regulations including, The Party Wall etc. Act 1996. For whatever reason a building owner decides to carry out such works as they are constituted as illegal, the Local Authority may take action against the owner of a property requiring them to either rectify the works so that they are in compliance with Building Regulations or to completely undo the works and return the property to it pre-works status.

Icon Surveyors would therefore recommend that any potential buyer appoints a surveyor to ensure that any illegal alterations are identified prior to any offer being accepted.

4) Flood Risk

The fourth issue is that of flood risk. Disclosing a flood risk can devalue a property by up to 4% although the effects may vary depending on which part of the country the property is situated in and whether it sits on a flood plain. For properties in areas close to rivers and the sea, surface waters, reservoirs and some groundwater, a strategic flood risk assessment is usually carried by the local planning authorities who will seek to inform potential buyers of any long-term risks, any possible causes and how to manage flood risk.

These risks can increase future costs for any potential buyer and of course cause a seller asking price to be reduced. Flood risks are usually carried out by a surveyor prior to any completion of the purchase of a property.

5) Poor Energy Efficiency

The final issue concerns the efficiency of the energy in a property. As it is now a legal requirement to ensure that a property is energy efficient Icon Surveyors believe that knowing the facts prior to purchasing a property can save on any costly repairs that may be incurred to bring the property up to the efficiency required.

If any of the matters in this blog affect any of our readers, we are here to help and would be happy to assist in any way that we can.

Icon Surveyors

We are a team of party wall surveying experts based throughout London and the surrounding areas. Here, we share informative property survey blogs created by industry experts.