Do you have to declare damp when selling a house?

Selling a House With Damp

Damp poses significant challenges when selling a property, as it tends to deter potential buyers. No buyer wants to buy a home with damp issues, and it can greatly affect their interest in making an offer.

In fact, a study conducted by YouGov revealed that 87% of homebuyers would be put off by damp and would be less likely to make an offer on a property facing this problem. Selling a house requires an effective presentation to make buyers fall in love with the property and envision themselves living there.

Damp creates an immediate visual deterrent that can be difficult to overcome. Moreover, it diminishes the value of your home. Mortgage lenders also tend to be cautious about damp issues due to the potential for structural damage. This creates an additional obstacle when selling a house with damp, as many buyers may struggle to secure a mortgage.

If you’re wondering how damp affects the sale of your home and what steps you can take, read on. This guide provides all the necessary information to successfully sell your home, despite damp issues. If you’re seeking specific information, such as the severity of damp or how to sell a house with damp quickly, use the menu below for quick navigation.

What is Damp?

Damp refers to the presence of moisture in the air, walls, or floors of a home. It can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Condensation
  • Poor ventilation
  • Rising damp
  • Leaking pipes or roofs
  • Blocked gutters
  • Porous bricks
  • Leaking dishwasher or washing machine

These visible and structural problems are unappealing to buyers and can significantly lower the value of your home. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), damp can devalue your home by up to 20%.

Identifying Damp

Damp is often more noticeable in winter when cooler temperatures lead to increased condensation. However, damp can still be present during the summer. Rising damp is more common in warmer months as higher temperatures cause the ground to expand, leading to wall cracks. Look out for the following signs of damp:

  • Mould or mildew growth
  • Musty smell
  • Peeling paint or wallpaper
  • Tidemarks and stains on walls
  • Crumbling plaster or efflorescence (white powder crystals)
  • Wet or damp patches on walls and ceilings
  • Decayed skirting boards and floorboards
  • Mortar deterioration and brickwork damage
  • Excessive condensation on windows, not limited to winter

Severity of Damp in a House

Damp can be a serious problem in a house, causing various issues ranging from unsightliness to health hazards such as respiratory problems. It can damage clothing, furniture, decor, and carpets. Additionally, it may lead to electrical problems and make the home uncomfortable to live in. In severe cases, damp can even cause significant structural damage, including wall and plaster failure, and wood rot.

Unfortunately, the cost of repairing damp can be substantial. According to RICS, internal damp repairs can range from £200 to £15,000, depending on the severity of the issue. Such expenses make it challenging to sell a house with damp. To avoid hefty repair bills, it’s best to address the damp problem before putting the property on the market. However, this may not always be feasible, and repair costs can often be prohibitive.

Selling a House with Damp

In the UK, it is legal to sell a house with damp. However, it is mandatory to disclose any property issues to potential buyers. If you’re selling a house with damp, you must inform potential buyers. The best approach is to obtain a damp report from a professional surveyor, which provides an objective assessment of the problem’s severity.

Include the damp report in your property information pack, which should be provided to potential buyers before they make an offer on your home. Simply painting or concealing damp patches is inadequate, as buyers can easily detect such cover-ups. Hiding the problem will only exacerbate the issue, and you may face legal action if buyers discover the damp after purchasing the property.

Selling a House with Damp: What to Expect

The first step is to obtain a professional damp report, which will help you understand the severity of the problem and necessary remedial measures. Once you have the report, you can explore options for treating the damp.

Various approaches can be taken depending on the severity of the issue, including:

  • Using a dehumidifier
  • Installing vents and extractor fans
  • Enhancing ventilation in the property
  • Implementing moisture barriers
  • Addressing any leaks
  • Improving insulation
  • Undertaking chemical DPC (damp proof course) injections to prevent rising damp

While some of these solutions can alleviate the problem, they may not increase the value of your home. In fact, some treatments might even devalue the property. Moreover, older buildings may be challenging to damp-proof completely. To ensure a sale, you may need to lower the asking price to account for the damp issue.

Of course, you can attempt to sell your home privately, but be aware that most buyers will insist on a professional damp report before making an offer. Consequently, you will still need to address the issue at some point.

Effects of Damp on Property Value

The impact on property value depends on the severity of the damp issue. Minor condensation is unlikely to significantly affect the value. However, more serious problems like rising or penetrating damp can devalue your property by up to 10%.

In severe cases, the value of your home could potentially decrease by up to 53%. Even if you choose to treat the damp, it’s unlikely that you’ll fully recover the repair costs, and there may still be a loss of approximately 3% of the property’s value. Considering the risks, it’s often not worth the potential consequences.

Selling a House with Damp: What Are the Risks?

Selling a property with dampness poses several risks. The most apparent type of damp risk is selling your home below its actual value. Therefore, obtaining a professional damp report is crucial before listing your property.

Another risk is potential legal action if the buyer discovers the damp issue after completing the house sale. Full transparency regarding any property problems is vital. Failure to disclose the issue could result in legal proceedings and potential damages.

Additionally, there is a risk of the buyer backing out of the sale if they uncover the damp problem, further prolonging the process of selling your property.

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