How to sell a property with subsidence

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The quickest way to sell a House with Subsidence?

This article is a guide on properties that may be subject to subsidence. Please complete our free valuation form below if you want to sell your property quickly.

Subsidence claims increased by an incredible 49% over the past year, and whilst first thoughts may be that the poor construction of the building caused it, many lawsuits were due to the increase in building surveys related to house sales and the heatwave the UK encountered.

Subsidence can not only be expensive to resolve but can skyrocket your insurance policy and affect the saleability of a property.

Buildings Insurance premium for Properties with a history of subsidence can be costly, and some insurers will not cover properties with a history of subsidence.

If you suspect a property may suffer from subsidence, you must obtain a structural survey before you proceed with the purchase.

A survey in June this year showed that more significant claims were costing homeowners approximately £30,000, with some even topping £500,000.

The last time a jump in claims was seen near these levels was in 2018, when the year-on-year increase reached 51%, again due to a sweltering summer.

If your house has been affected by subsidence, our guide will help you distinguish whether you can sell or not. But first, let’s understand what subsidence is.

What is subsidence?

Definition of Subsidence: Subsidence happens when the ground under your house sinks or caves in. It is most problematic when the ground underneath a house is sinking at different rates as it causes the foundations of a proper to become misaligned, threatening the structural integrity of the building.

What are the tell-tale signs of subsidence?

Cracks appearing on walls, especially in older properties, is not always a sign of subsidence. Keep an eye on cracks that:

Appear close to a door or window
Are wider than 3mm
Are visible inside and outside
Spread diagonally across a wall

Other signs of being aware include:

Rippled wallpaper
Doors and windows stick when opening and closing
Subsidence Cracks appearing between property and extension
The home seems slanted or wonky

Your home could be struggling with subsidence, and you’d never know, as it can lay dormant for years until signs appear. Your home could be more at risk if it is built on clay, is surrounded by trees, or has experienced a long, hot, dry summer.

Clay shrinkage and soil erosion accounted for 90% of claims. However, 55% of homeowners were not aware of what their house was built on, leading to the possibility of an increase in this claim percentage as more people become aware of subsidence.

Research carried out by LV=GI showed that some claims are made without the customer is fully aware of what constitutes subsidence. For example,

Bulging floorboards
Damp patches appearing
Tilting large trees outside of the house
Tree roots
Musty odour

These signs don’t point to a subsidence issue but are often assumed to be.

What causes subsidence?

One of the reasons for building structural problems, including subsidence, is due to tree root damage. Roots of trees can cause structural movement, and you will see tell-tale signs like natural shrinkage of soil adjacent to the house with subsidence.

What is historical subsidence?

It is not impossible to sell a home that is currently, or has, experienced subsidence. However, you will need a surveyor to visit your home and assess the structure and foundations.

The surveyor can distinguish if the subsidence is historical or ongoing. Our guide helps show you everything you need to know about a property surveyor and the surveys carried out on your home.

Historical subsidence means that any continued movement is unlikely, and no improvements need to be made.

If subsidence is ongoing, work must be carried out to resolve the subsidence before selling.

If you sell a property with historical subsidence, you must disclose previous issues with the estate agent.

They will then make any prospective buyers aware; be prepared that it may take longer to sell your home as subsidence can be off-putting, even if historical. You might even have to lower your asking price of the recent subsidence.

If subsidence is historical, you will need to provide evidence of past insurance claims and specifications of work to show how the problem was resolved at the time. The buyer may also ask for a Certificate of Structural Adequacy.

Does underpinning devalue property?

Underpinning is an action used to strengthen a property’s foundation and is a solution to subsidence. You can sell a property that has been underpinned as long as it has been completed to a good standard and there are no ongoing structural or subsidence issues.

The outlay will be determined by the job involved and the type of underpinning required. Piling is the most expensive type and is only used for deep foundations.

Mass concrete fill and beam and base are the more common methods. You will find what type is best for you through your surveyor. At Sell House Fast 4 Cash, we can value your house for free and help you move up the property ladder.

How much does underpinning a house cost?

Like any structural work, the cost of underpinning will vary between properties and the scale of the subsidence issues.

The job size, duration, property access, and whether the subsidence has caused aesthetic or structural issues will be considered when obtaining quotes.

Below, we have highlighted the average cost per wall. You will need to multiply by the number of walls that will need work to get a rough estimate:

Job description Cost
Underpinning a single wall in a terraced home (4m) £21,200
Underpinning a single wall in a semidetached home (5m x 4m) £47,700
Underpinning a single wall in a detached home (8m x 6m) £74,200
Be aware there may be additional costs, such as a structural engineer inspecting the property regularly or paperwork that needs to be submitted for planning permission. Below are the average costs for some of these additional charges:
Job description Cost
Structural Engineer (per hour) £100
Party wall agreement (per neighbour) £800
Building control application fee £300
Planning permission £400

Is subsidence covered by house insurance?

The insurance company should cover all damage, repairing items, and alternative accommodation costs. Often underpinning is only covered by specialist insurance packages, but you will need to liaise with your provider should the worst happen.

If your home has irregular features or is potentially at risk from a riverbank or coastal erosion, you may need a specialist insurance company covering damages outside your home. The average cost of insuring a house with subsidence as of March 2021 was £320, compared to an average of £110 for a house without it.

Selling a house with subsidence

You can sell a house with a history of subsidence, but you should be prepared to drop the selling price severely. This allows the buyer to undertake the work that needs to be conducted to rectify the subsidence issue.

Furthermore, properties may need to be purchased by cash buyers as mortgage lenders will not touch properties with ongoing subsidence as they are uninsurable in their present state.

How to Sell an underpinned house

As previously mentioned, you can sell your property if it has been underpinned. However, when you sell, you must declare that your property has been underpinned. Failure to do so can result in legal complications as the buyer will be protected by The Misinterpretation Act 1967.

Selling an underpinned property means being clear and transparent with your estate agent and potential buyers. When you sell, it is helpful to provide your insurer’s name so that the new occupants can continue under the same coverage if they so wish.

This can be useful going forward if another subsidence claim needs to be made. A positive for a prospective buyer is that with the house now underpinned, the foundations are, if anything, more substantial than houses with no subsidence issues. However, you can still expect to lose an estimated 20-25% in property value as a seller.

How will underpinning affect my mortgage?

Underpinning does not influence securing a mortgage. However, with this information, your estate agent can give peace of mind to any interested buyers.

Your property survey will highlight that the underpinning has been completed to a high standard, and your home has no ongoing structural issues and is not at risk of subsidence. Only houses with current subsidence issues will be refused a mortgage.

This is why you should fix the structural damage before you come to sell.

The only other scenario where failure to obtain a mortgage may happen is related to insurance. If a property cannot secure house insurance, then a lender will not be able to give a mortgage.

This is because the grounds for a mortgage are dependent on the property being able to be insured. However, if the property is sound and there are no issues from the survey, this will not be a problem.

If you are unsure of what type of mortgage is right for you, then read our beginner’s guide to mortgages to help you on your way.

How much does subsidence devalue a property?

Residence issues can affect a property’s selling price by around 20%. On a £300,000 property, this would be a decrease of £60,000. This percentage is on a sliding scale depending on the severity of the subsidence.

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