Updated: Apr 1
If you are selling your house or apartment, the buyer will likely hire a surveyor to visit the property and conduct a survey before they sign the contract.
Even though this is simply the buyer taking precautions to ensure they have a full picture of the condition of the property before they commit to the purchase, this situation can be unnerving for sellers as depending on the findings of the survey, it could cause the buyer to pull out, or seek to negotiate a lower price or for repairs to take place before the sale.
So, you’ll want to make sure that the survey comes back with as few conditional issues as possible.
Thankfully, over 80% of issues identified on surveys are minor and are usually items that the current owner could have addressed for relatively little cost.
As a seller, you want your buyer's survey to be as short as possible so that they have no reason to reconsider buying at the sale agreed price. The good news is, there are a few things you can do as a buyer to make sure this is the case.
Things to repair in your home before selling your property to ensure a favourable survey
Most conditional issues listed on a survey are minor or “not urgent”. However, if there are a lot of them it can still leave a bad impression for the buyer. After all, 20 small issues is a lot to mentally consider and may lead them to prefer another property over yours.
1: Windows & Doors
Issues with windows and doors are the most common things we see on surveys. It could be an internal door sticking, a broken handle or a window with a damaged seal. Buy in most cases, these are easily rectified issues,
Make sure all doors and windows open and close smoothly. If any doors are sticking or handles are loose, make sure you hire a good carpenter to come around and service/repair all your doors.
Even if you need to replace some locks or handles, a working cheap door handle won't be mentioned on a survey, but a faulty expensive lock will!
If your windows are more than a few years old, it is also worth hiring a window specialist to service and repair all your windows. This involves making sure all the hinges are working smoothly, making sure all the handles are locking and the seals are intact, and preventing any unwanted breezes!
In most homes, there is a couple of hundred euros worth of improvements that could be made to windows and doors, and doing this work upfront, might just help get the sale over the line!
2: Have your boiler serviced!
Whether you have a gas or oil boiler, it is recommended you have it serviced once per year.
Failing to do this will shorten the life of your boiler and will lead to higher bills.
Simply having your boiler serviced regularly will reduce the chases of unwanted breakdowns.
Just like having your car serviced regularly, make sure you keep a record of the service!
3: Clean and maintain gutters and drains!
Your gutters and drains help to ensure that water and wastewater are correctly channeled away from your property and into the sewers.
In most properties, especially if there are trees nearby, it is necessary to clean your gutters yearly. Failing to do this will allow a buildup of debris which could end up damaging the gutter and allowing water to get where it shouldn't.
Poorly maintained gutters can lead to damage to fascias and soffits or worse, allow water to penetrate the building.
If the drains on the property are not regularly cleaned and maintained, it can lead to blocking and flooding which can have a detrimental impact on the property.
Hiring a professional, insured company to clean and maintain your gutters and drains can dramatically extend their life and protect your property from damage.
Unfortunately, when people know they are planning on selling a property, they can easily let this maintenance slip, which can result in a large range of issues that will show up on a survey.
4: Make sure all lights, switches, and sockets are working!
You know that back garden light which hasn't worked for 5 years, but you have learned to just live with it? Well, that is another thing which will be recorded in a survey.
Most homes have at least a couple of electrician issues which could be addressed by hiring an electrician for an hour or two.
Ensuring that every electrical fixture in your home is in good working order, will give fewer issues to list on a survey and less likely an electrician is recommended.
This includes everything from lights to sockets and extractor fans. Make sure they are all working and if not, hire an electrician!
5: Make sure all taps, showers, and toilets are working
This might seem obvious, but it is not uncommon for people to become accustomed to a leaking tap, a broken hot or cold tap, or even a shower that does not work if the property has another shower.
Have a walk around your house and make sure every tap and shower turns on, and the toilets flush without issues.
If there are any issues, get a plumber out. Provided the repairs are minor you may only be paying for an hour or two of the plumber's time.
6: Clean roofs, driveways, and decking!
A roof covered in moss, a slip and slide deck, or a driveway in poor disrepair will all be recorded on a survey. These issues may seem like small inconveniences, but if left untreated they can lead to bigger issues.
Each of these are easy jobs to keep on top of, but like some of the other issues can be things you let slide if you know you will be selling the property soon.
Make sure you hire a reputable, insured cleaning company to give the entire exterior of your property a good deep clean before you list your property for sale.
Doing so will make sure that potential buyers see the property has been well maintained and give fewer conditional issues for surveyors to record.
Things you can do to prepare for a survey of your home
When a survey has been booked, there are a few things you can do to help it go as smoothly as possible!
1: Ensure all windows, doors, and hatches are unlocked (or provide a key for each to the agent)
During the survey, the surveyor will inspect every part of the property. This includes every room and every attic space or cupboard they can access. They will also open and close every door to look for any condition issues and ensure they are operating.
If the surveyor is unable to access any part of the property - e.g. an attic. It will be noted in the survey that they were unable to access it. This leaves a big question mark for the buyer as they will have no idea of the condition.
Likewise, if all the windows upstairs are locked. The surveyor will only be able to mention that they “appear” to be in good condition, which again leave an unknown for the buyer.
2: If the property has been altered in any way, have planning docs and certificates of compliance/exemption ready.
These should be shared with your solicitor beforehand, who will pass them on to the buyer’s solicitor. The solicitor will then forward any specific questions they have to the surveyor so they can check while at the property.
If you want to be extra helpful, if possible, leave a copy out for the surveyor in plain sight somewhere. Occasionally people do this and it makes our jobs a whole lot easier and speeds things up with less follow-up and delay afterward.
If these are not available, the survey will record that the property has been altered and will require "x document". The buyer's solicitor will then need to chase this up which could cause a significant delay to the sale.
3: Remove any clutter from rooms
It's not uncommon for us to visit a property, but for the surveyor to be unable to access one or more rooms due to the volume of clutter blocking the door or access.
Even if you are a hoarder, selling your home is the perfect opportunity to start decluttering and let go of items. Estate Agents and buyers won't appreciate it on viewings and surveyors will just need to flag a big question mark as they were unable to access a part of the property, all of which could lead to you getting a lower sale price.
Things NOT to do before a survey of your home!
This is honestly just as important as things to do. Unfortunately, over the last number of years a few passionate, but ultimately unprofessional sellers have led to sales falling through.
We really do understand... You are selling your home, something you care about, and have created countless happy memories in and it is easy to become defensive when someone is hired to look for issues with it.
But put yourself in the shoes of the buyer. They are making, what is likely the biggest financial commitment of their life and they want to make sure they are making the right decision. They do not know you or your home and so they hire a professional surveyor to give their opinion.
If you are asking someone to spend several hundred thousand on something you own, you have to afford them the opportunity to do their due diligence. There is absolutely nothing personal.
Don't shadow the surveyor!
When someone is hired to find as many issues as possible with your home, the urge to keep a close eye on them can be overwhelming. However, this is just a distraction for the surveyor and will likely just lead to an awkward situation. Let the estate agent handle access to the property and you go and grab a coffee or bite to eat somewhere!
A rule surveyors operate by is to "leave the property exactly as you found it". So when you get back, you won't even know someone was there!
Don't try and cover up serious issues
By all means, repair an issue. There is not a house in the country that has not required some maintenance or repair at some stage.
But please do not try and cover up a serious issue with the intention of hiding it from sellers.
Thankfully this is a very rare occurrence, but over the last few years, we have seen attempts to cover up water damage without repairing the cause, hide structural issues, and even some rooms locked to prevent the surveyor from identifying dampness. This is unfortunately not an exhaustive list!
Surveyors have seen every possible thing you can imagine and they will spot it. When they do, it always leads to a breakdown of trust between both parties.
If you are selling your property, chances are you are buying another one! To book your survey with us, just go to GetHouseSurvey.ie and click "Get Survey Now". Once you book we take care of everything else.