Selling a House with Damp Issues

Serious damp issues can sometimes result in a prospective  buyers mortgage being rejected. If you’re selling a house or flat requiring extensive work to fix a damp problem, it might be more cost effective to sell to a cash buyer at auction.

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Home: Auction Link » Selling a house with damp issues
There’s no mistaking the look and smell of damp! And in many cases there’s no quick fix. If you’re considering selling a property with damp issues it’s important (and a legal requirement) to make sure you’re honest about the problem.

Owners of properties with damp problems often find themselves in a difficult situation when it comes to negotiating with prospective buyers, who might make a damp problem out to be more serious than it actually is, just to discount their offer. There are ways of dealing with these situations to ensure you receive the best sale price for your property.

Does damp affect the sale price of a property?

Yes, a damp issue might affect the sale price of your property. But there are various types of damp problems and some can be treated at very low cost. For example, the type of damp caused by condensation will be surface mould and easy to treat, it’s very common in bathrooms and might simply be due to excessive water vapour. With some household cleaning equipment and the installation of an extractor fan the issue might be fully resolved within a week or so.

More serious types of damp, like rising damp, lateral damp or penetrating damp will require the services of a professional. The severity of the damp problem will determine the cost of treatment.

The issue most prospective buyer have is not knowing the full extent of the damp problem, so not knowing how much to discount their offer in order to offset the cost of repairs. So prospective buyers often request a “free survey” from a damp specialist, but all too often the quote for work far exceeds the reality of the problem, causing sellers can lose out if they accept an unfairly reduced offer.

Can a house with serious damp issues be sold?

There will always be a buyer, but it depends on the price you’re hoping to achieve.

With very few exceptions a property being purchased with a mortgage will require a survey. When the survey identifies damp issues the mortgage lender will more often than not require further investigation from a specialist surveyor. Some lenders will take into account the cost of work outlined in the surveyors report and offer a mortgage subject to a retention. A retention is where a mortgage lender withholds a proportion of a mortgage until the buyer has completed certain works on the property. As long as the buyer doesn’t reduce their offer, this is a good outcome for the seller.

There can be cases where damp issues are so serious that mortgage companies won’t lend, full stop. In these cases, the seller will either need to carry out the work themselves or sell to a cash buyer. For a sale to a cash buyer there will be a discount, sellers should expect a 10% to 20% discount on market value, plus a discount for the cost of work.

Should I try to paint over damp to disguise it from the buyer?

The short answer is no! There used to be a time when the phrase “buyer beware” would justify hiding any issues from prospective buyer. But times have changed. It’s now a legal requirement to declare any problems (in the seller’s property information questionnaire) rather than to painting over them and keep your fingers crossed.

How much does it cost to treat a damp problem?

The first step is to have the damp issue inspected by a professional contractor. Sellers are advised to pay a specialist surveyor rather than obtaining free assessments from damp proofing companies, some of which are known to exaggerate the issue in order to charge more for work. It’s the “misdiagnosis” from unscrupulous damp proofing companies that can lead to sales falling through or offers being reduced for no legitimate reason.

As an example of the costs involved in treating rising damp, the work might typically involve the installation of a chemical injected into holes in the masonry to repel water, or a new damp membrane can be fitted to act as a physical barrier to repel moisture. The area will need to be redecorated with a new salt-retardant plaster and a new skirting board. In the case of damp proofing a property, as a general guideline the cost is likely to be between £70-100 per linear metre for the damp proofing, and cost of plastering and reinstating skirting boards and electricity sockets will be extra. For a typical three-bedroom house the average cost of damp proofing is between £3,000 to £4,000.

The damp proofing treatment itself can usually be completed within 1-3 days. It’s the drying time that can be lengthy, it might take up to one month per inch of wall thickness to dry. The use of a dehumidifier will speed up the process.

What’s the best way to sell a property with damp issues?

For minor or isolated damp issues it’s worth carrying out damp correction work before sale and obtaining a 25+ year guarantee from a contractor. If you’re not in a position to pay for the work to be carried out before selling, there will be a price to pay in passing the problem on to the buyer, you’ll need to account for the inconvenience plus the actual cost of work.

For damp problems that are serious enough for mortgage lending to be refused, to achieve a fair price the best alternative is an auction sale. Auction offers a transparent sale, where prospective buyers don’t have the chance to drag out the sale and chip away at the price after the survey. At auction the bidding can only go one way. Up! So after competitive bidding sellers can be sure they’re achieve the best sale price, without any risk of bullying from opportunistic buyers!

Need more help? Call us on 0800 862 0206 or send us an enquiry online.

Next steps – request an auction sale estimate

Why not request a free pre-auction appraisal for your property? It only takes a few seconds. Or feel free to call us on 0800 862 0206 if you have any questions.

⚠ Damp Issues?

Trying to sell a property with serious damp issues can be frustrating, but it’s important not to take any shortcuts. Attempting to cover up damp will only come back to haunt you later!

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