Property Viewings and Auction Houses in the UK
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House Auction Tricks of the Trade
When it’s time for the official auction viewing, I usually take a set of screwdrivers, super high-powered flashlight, a damp meter, and an electronic measuring device, together with a notepad and pen. I take a good quality photo of all rooms, plus a photo of the electrical box, which is usually located in the hallway, and another photo of the boiler. Check for new paint or plaster hiding cracks, and furniture strategically located to hide issues.
The biggest cost apart from any structural work like underpinning, will be the need to replace the roof or replace floorboards, so look out for this. If floors are not very level, this can make a big difference to your refurbishment budget. Asbestos is also another big cost, so take lots of photos if anything looks untoward. I walk slowly around each room looking for faults and taking it all in at my own pace. Don’t allow the auction viewer to rush you. It is really important to concentrate on the job in-hand, avoiding the temptation of chatting to others during the viewing and spend a good half an hour taking lots of photos and looking for all the obvious faults, cracks and bulging walls. In my experience, the bigger the crack or bulge, the more expensive they will be to remedy.
I start by checking sales price history on the Land Registry and the usual places online, but first, on EIG Auction Data. The other key issue here is that I am using previous auction sales as my sales history data, rather than using data from a conventional sale.
The official auctioneer viewing, for me, is focused on the inside only as I will already have a good idea of the outside condition from my previous unofficial viewing. The official viewing is effectively my second look at the property, even though I didn’t have internal access for my own private viewing. Remember, my own private viewing was spent taking quality photos of outside walls and the roof, and looking for all outside faults including Japanese Knotweed, which will be an instant refusal for a mortgage. It is also expensive to remove.
Structurally, if the property looks in any way suspect, don’t waste money on a RICS Building Survey (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). They will merely advise you to obtain structural advice, if anything structural is found. I, therefore, go straight for a structural survey by taking my structural engineer and quantity surveyor to a second official viewing, as most auctions will have at least two official viewings. Once I have purchased and the hammer falls, the clock is ticking, and I will then politely insist on access to carry out further inspections. If the auction house refuses access during exchange, I often suggest it may delay completion and security of my funding, which I find tends to be the door opener. Do not be tempted to do any building work without employing the services of a quantity surveyor before you even speak to any builder, otherwise you are building blind without independent professional costing advice, which your builder definitely won’t provide. Without a quantity surveyor, I would guess you have an 80% chance of cost overruns and disputes, or falling out with your builder, which is very common.
Henry is the CEO of We Buy Any House and Genii Developments Ltd and a developer for over 32 years. He is also an accredited Property trainer for the National Residential Landlords Association.
Copyright, Henry Davis. www.henrydavisproperty.com