Are YOU paying too much for a mismeasured house? Buyers risk paying tens of thousands based on inaccurate floor plans
Homebuyers risk paying tens of thousands of pounds too much because of prices based on inaccurate floor plan measurements.
Traditionally, purchasers search for a home based on the number of bedrooms, but increasingly agents are adding price per square foot to help buyers compare like with like, especially when property hunting online.
But a company that uses high tech equipment to calculate property sizes down to the last inch has discovered many agents simply use unqualified ‘guesstimates’ provided by property photographers.
James Marshall, chief executive of property measuring company Spec, says: ‘They are not certified property measurers, have outdated equipment and no real duty of care to accurately measure a property because they rely on small print that says “for illustrative purposes”.’
Marshall says this leads to huge inaccuracies. He adds: ‘Home buyers are continually being mis-sold.’
Although advertising square footage or meterage is a well-established practice in other housing markets, such as in America and France, it is less common in Britain.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) has developed a voluntary property measurement standard that agents are encouraged to use – but not all do.
Buyers can ask estate agents if the standard has been used to measure their chosen property.
Analysis of more than 300 properties in London by Spec, which has developed a digital surveying qualification with Rics, found that imprecise measurements led to differences of 54 square feet on average – the size of a small bedroom or study.
Spec’s 3D technology is now used by estate agents such as JLL, Winkworth, Barnard Marcus, Martin & Co and Knight Frank.
Homeowners can also pay £99 to have their property accurately measured – plus receive floor plans and 360 degree images of the interior.
Measuring a five-bedroom terraced home in South London, for example, the Spec surveyor’s equipment captured 75 million data points in four hours – with computer analysis later totting them up to a total 1,975 square feet.
The same property was then measured by more conventional surveying methods, at a cost of more than £1,000 for more than a day’s work by a surveyor, although this did include checking for structural problems. The final calculation was almost identical. Paula Higgins, chief executive of the Homeowners Alliance, says: ‘It is critical that homeowners actually know what they are buying.
‘They should only pay the true value of the property and have confidence that the size advertised in the sales particulars is accurate.
‘We would like to see a common professional standard for measurement and for those who don’t abide by it, stronger enforcement so that it is not just the buyer that loses out.’