The first time I heard the words Japanese Knotweed, I expected Robin Williams to jump out the wardrobe and scream Jumanji!

Who would have thought that this innocent looking plant could cause so much grief around the purchase of a house… I mean, the thing wasn’t even a foot tall!

A similar event occurred upon reading my first damp report – I turned up to my next viewing with wellies and rain jacket in the boot, expecting the River Thames to be flowing down the stairs.

Fear Factor

These are a couple of the many ‘red flags’ that will be  listed on a home buyers report and can be absolutely terrifying to a First Time Buyer. The first time a buyer sent me their survey report, I was terrified for them and wondered why the boss hadn’t made me wear a hard hat to the viewings and I was the one selling the home! But jumping ship straight away could result in more of the same from the next property you get surveyed. So its important to take a step back and a deep breath.

Realistically…is the house going to fall down? Probably not… (and its insured right?!)

Can everything be resolved? Most likely, just needs to be stripped down to its basics

Should you read through your home buyers report more than once…. absolutely! If you get a chance read through a friends too, when you aren’t emotionally involved in their purchase it might give you a level of perspective you need in your own circumstances.

We do our best to establish some balance on the frightening wording and confusing jargon with the daunting issues that are always raised when purchasing a home which, without advice – can leave you feeling like the house you are buying is doomed! (don’t worry, it probably isn’t!)

Buying your first home will be one of the biggest and most important decisions in your life, you want it to be be fun and exciting – unfortunately, it is likely to be arduous and frustrating. Being properly prepared can make a big difference to a potentially very stressful experience.

From the moment you receive the phone call from the estate agent letting you know your offer has been accepted, the 3-month journey (roughly) begins, which will no doubt have its ups and downs and inevitable stresses, which is why it is important to have support along the way to guide you through the process. A common misconception is made that the estate agent is only interested in supporting the vendor given they pay the fee; in reality the buyer is also legally ‘the client’ and therefore should receive the same genuine support, advice and attention throughout. So use your agent, the good ones have amassed experience and knowledge that should provide a helping hand throughout the transaction.

Solicitors and Surveyors

Involved to protect you, but will protect themselves just as much if not more.

I never realised before working in the industry how important it is to instruct the right solicitor – now don’t get me wrong, like every industry, you will have certain solicitors who differ in cost for their services – I would always recommend speaking with family or friends before instructing someone to figure out who is going to be the right fit for you, rather than a quick google search to find the cheapest option!.

If all else fails, ask your agent! (Remember, we’re here to help you!) given the fact we deal with solicitors on a daily basis; the likelihood is your agent will be able to pass over a few recommendations who can really make the difference in having a successful and smooth process and also taking the stress away from you as the buyer.

I often get asked from clients ‘’should I get a survey’? and the answer often differs based on the scenario – for example, If my buyer was asking if they should have a full structural survey on a new build flat, it was be more inclined to recommend they save their money for obvious reasons! however, I do recommend  getting at least a home buyers survey as this will provide some detailed answers around the bones of the property and can sometimes offer recommendations on a few things that may need further inspections.

Reading a survey report for the first time can leave a buyer terrified! I remember the first phone call I had with a buyer who had just received her report and she honestly thought the house was going to fall down! In reality, the issues raised were relatively common  – So I like to make sure that I pre- warn buyers of a few common areas which may flag up,  for example, ‘area is known for subsidence’ – given the fact the majority of buildings in London are built on clay, this is something we cannot get away from and I’d recommend looking outside of London if this is of major concern!. Another one that’s quite common is finding some elements of damp in period homes -. My biggest recommendation to first time buyers is to contact the surveyor after reading through the report as quite often, the reports can be worded in ways which can be confusing; Having the surveyor break this down over the phone can be helpful.

To summarise, every step along the way of buying your first property is a journey into the unknown, but with the trusted help of friends, family, surveyors, agents, solicitors etc – most things are very much solvable (most of the time!) so use them to your advantage and remember, don’t panic, just talk.


“Article by Jay Scally, Forest Hill.”