Buyers are feeling pressured to purchase a home without checking it properly for damage, leaving many with hefty repair bills after moving in, research shows.
Buying a property is the most expensive purchase most of us will ever make.
But some people, it seems, spend more time choosing an outfit than assessing the state of their future home.
According to new research from insurer LV=, those who have bought a place this year will spend £4,205 on average fixing problems they failed to identify before moving in.
Blocked pipes, faulty electrics and damaged drains
Plumbing problems are most common - 38% found issues such as blocked pipes - followed by faulty electrics (25%) and damaged drains (21%), while damp, rot and even structural defects are also widespread.
The study suggests the problem has been made worse as the housing market has become more buoyant.
This is causing buyers to feel pressured into making a decision quickly and without thoroughly checking a property first.
One in 10 of those who bought a home since the start of the year say they made an offer straight away.
Are sellers concealing problems deliberately?
To make matters worse, 29% of those who bought a property recently and found a problem believe the seller deliberately hid the issue from them in order to secure a sale.
Common tactics employed include painting over mould, moving furniture to cover problems such as damaged floors and hiding wall defects behind pictures.
Alex Sharifi, 27, a marketing analyst at Confused.com, bought his first house with his partner in December 2013.
"The day we moved into the house we smelt damp really badly," he says.
'The seller covered up the smell'
"There was no sign of any problem during the viewing and we think the previous owner must have sprayed the property beforehand to conceal the smell.
"Our survey had detected some damp in the property, but we only went for a very basic level option, the cheapest one available, so they weren’t able to specify where the damp was.
"To add to the problem, after moving into the house I realised our drainage pipe, which goes under our kitchen, was cracked.
"Now every time the toilet upstairs is flushed it leaks downstairs."
'Boilers are not the most exciting things'
Alex has also had to replace his boiler since moving in.
"When we moved in to our house we had an energy company look at the boiler and the engineer found the carbon monoxide reading was at a potentially dangerous level.
"We were just going into winter so we had to replace it straight away, which cost us more than £2,000.
"When you’re viewing a house, the boiler is not the most exciting thing to look at as you’re too busy planning where you’ll put your furniture and so on."
"If I was to move again I would be a lot more thorough," adds Alex.
Home insurance may cover you for some problems
LV= spokesman Selwyn Fernandes says: "Buying a home is a huge investment and yet many buyers now feel pressured to rush into a sale without checking a property thoroughly.
"Serious faults are difficult to identify and can be very costly to put right.
"It is worth getting the professionals in to survey the condition of a property before exchanging contracts to make sure you are fully aware of any issues."
He adds: "Home insurance will not cover you for damage that occurred before the sale but it may cover you for problems that happen afterwards, such as water damage resulting from faulty pipework."
Renters suffer from unseen troubles
Finally, it seems hidden problems aren’t just confined to homebuyers, with renters also suffering from a range of unseen issues too.
Naphtalia Loderick, 34, content editor at Confused.com, rented a flat which looked fine on inspection but turned out to be suffering from damp once she had move in.
"My landlords weren’t interested in solving the problem, just painting over it.
"I had to regularly wipe down the walls to get rid of damp and mould," she says.
"When it came to moving out I was torn between leaving visible signs of damp on the walls, so any future tenants would see there was a problem, and running the risk of the landlords not refunding my deposit.
"In the end I decided my finances meant more to me so I wiped away the damp."
What do you think?
Have you moved into a home only to find "hidden horrors" afterwards?
Or have you sold a property and thought about concealing an issue in order to secure the sale?
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