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Your Sale & How To Complete Enquiry Forms So You Won’t Be Sued

How To Complete the Seller’s Property Information Form (SPIF) and protect yourself.


There are WARNINGS and INSTRUCTIONS within the Sellers Property Information Form advising sellers not to mislead buyers. You should be honest. If you cannot be sure about one of the questions, and you have not checked, then say so.


Sellers cannot be experts in all things, and no one can expect you to be, but protect yourself by being very careful with your answers on the Sellers Property Information Form. Only confirm what you know. Otherwise state "not known and not checked". It is then for the buyer to look into things further and you have not potentially misled them.



MISREPRESENTATION


You can be sued for misrepresentation where your buyer suffers loss and can prove you misled them. Recent case law resulted in a seller losing, and paying significant damages, where he stated there was "no" Japanese Knotweed at the property. He had not had this confirmed by an expert.


Japanese Knotwed is an invasive plant which spreads rapidly and damages buildings and their foundations. Lenders may refuse to lend on property which is infested with Knotweed. Bamboo and Hog Weed are also now an issue.


Japanese Knotweed was in fact present and the buyer sued the seller to recover the cost of the treatment plan. Treatment is expensive and lasts for many years. The seller was ordered to pay compensation to the buyer. This was widely reported in "the Metro" and other national publications.



The SPIF warning page is also

set out below:





BUYER BEWARE


It isn’t all on the seller. The buyer also has responsibilities. Buyer Beware applies.  Conveyancers often refer to this as Caveat Emptor. This means the property is “as is” and subject to all defects.  It is vital the buyer carries out searches, inspections, and survey to ensure that they are aware of any defects.  From completion the buyer takes the property subject to any issues.


The buyer should obtain a survey and if any issues are revealed they should be discussed before completion. An adverse survey may result in works being carried out at the property or a price renegotiation. The seller and buyer can negotiate this through the Estate Agent.


These negotiations and enquiries must occur before exchange as once exchanged the buyer is committed to buying at the price agreed on exchange and they cannot raise enquiries. Exchange of contracts means the deal is legally binding.



LENDER VALUATIONS

 

A lender valuation is NOT a survey. Lender valuations are often desk top studies and involve no physical inspection.  It is simply a valuation comparing the property to others on the market.




GAS & ELECTRIC CHECKS


You are not obliged to have these checked for the buyer. Their Conveyancer may ask but they are simply being diligent. If the buyer wants these checked and is prepared to pay for them their professional will need access to the property. It may “grease the wheels” to allow this.




OTHER BLOG ARTICLES:


See my other blog article on how to sell and complete quickly and efficiently

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