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Top Tips on Decoding Estate Agents’ Jargon

Buying a house is one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make, with so many different factors to consider. Choosing a location and setting a budget are just two of the key decisions you have to make - and that’s all before you start trying to decipher the jargon used by estate agents to get you to part with your hard-earned cash.

Paul Anderson, of Anderson Associates Chartered Surveyors, provides full building surveys and structural surveys on properties in Kent, Essex, Suffolk and many parts of London. He has put together this helpful guide to some of the terms the agents use, and how hiring an independent chartered surveyor is usually the most reliable way to ensure you end up with the right home at the right price.

‘Blank Canvas’

This term usually means that you have the chance to put your mark on the property. However, it could also mean the property is an empty shell, which should be reflected in the price.

It is important to note that you won’t always be able to make all the alterations you want on such a property, especially if the property is listed or in a conservation area.

 ‘Viewing Recommended’

This is more positive than it sounds, and usually means that the photos in the advertisement don’t do it justice or that the property isn’t much to look at from the outside but looks far better on the inside – what estate agents like to call a ‘hidden gem’. However, if a property is described in this way it can make setting an accurate value more of an issue.

 ‘Pied A Terre’

Is a term borrowed term French, meaning ‘foot on the ground’. It is usually used in connections with small flats and apartments in town and city centres that are not usually used as primary family homes. As a result, they are liked by students, as well as professionals who work in the city and commute home at weekends.

Along with ‘Pied A Terre’, also be wary of terms like ‘cosy’ and ‘bijou’. Although they may make the home seem attractive, would you really be happy to live there, especially if you are looking for a main family home?

Structural Surveys Kent - Anderson Associates

‘In Need of Modernisation’

This term can be used to cover a whole multitude of sins. It could mean more simple cosmetic tasks like taking out old carpets or painting the walls and ceilings. However, it could also include more serious issues, such as the need to replace an entire kitchen or bathroom suite.

In addition, this term could be used to indicate structural issues with the property, as well as problems like subsidence and damp. Some of these major jobs may need council planning permission and Building Regulations approval. So it is important to be fully aware of these potential issues before purchase.

How An Independent Chartered Surveyor Can Help You

They can give you a full breakdown of the property you are interested in buying. And because they work for you, not the seller, they always have your best interests at heart.

If instructed, they can also specifically advise on:

  • What alterations are likely to be acceptable to the planning authorities if the property is listed or in a conservation area.
  • What a realistic valuation of a property is, if it looks better on the inside than the outside.
  • For smaller properties, they may be able to suggest alterations that would give you more space (for instance. internal walls that can be safely demolished without compromising on structural integrity).
  • In the case of properties that need modernising, they will be able to tell you which council approvals you will or may need (if any). And they will also be able to draw up a schedule of works for you, whether you are getting outside builders in or doing the work yourself, maybe as part of a renovation project where you are aiming to sell the property on at a profit.

Building and Structural Surveys from Anderson Associates

If you are buying a home where there may be issues, Anderson Associates provide full building surveys, where the fees are not significantly more expensive than a Home Buyer’s Survey.

And with this type of report, a cost summary is included, which not only advises you on what repair and maintenance issues the property has, but also gives you an indication as to the cost of these repairs. We also provide structural surveys if a valuation survey throws up a serious structural defect, in which case you probably wouldn’t get a mortgage on it.

If you are unclear about whether you need a structural survey or some other type of building assessment, our surveyors will be happy to talk to you about your requirements and recommend the most appropriate survey for your needs.

If you would like to know more about the structural surveys we offer to customers in Kent, Essex, Suffolk and London, call us on 01473 623656 or click here and fill in our online contact form.


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Whether you need a simple valuation or a full structural survey as well as being expert building surveyors we’re happy to give you free, impartial advice on anything to do with buildings and property.
Anderson Associates
(Head Office & Correspondence Address)
Warneford House, Portal Avenue
Martlesham Heath, Ipswich
Suffolk IP5 3QY
T. 01473 623 656
T. 0800 652 8285
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Registered Office: Anderson Associates (Surveying) Ltd. | Warneford House, Portal Avenue, Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, Suffolk IP5 3QY
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