Buying a house (as we know it) may soon change

Always get a survey when buying older property, like these homes in Wymondham, Norfolk
Always have a building survey when buying older property, like these houses on Bridewell Street, Wymondham in Norfolk

The American private equity firm, Silver Lake Partners, has offered £2.2 billion to take over ZPG – the company that runs property websites including Zoopla and Prime Locations. As a bonus, the price comparison website, uSwitch, was also swept up in the deal. It is rumoured that rival property companies eMoov and Tepilo could also be looking to merge, so what might all this mean for the property sales industry?

The traditional ‘high street shop, sales board, and percentage of the sales price fee’ approach that has long been the business of estate agents has a well funded rival. In 2017 alone, an estimated £9 billion was invested in property industry technology. If the eMoov and Tepilo merger goes ahead, online property sales could well increase their market share, currently thought to be around 6% of house sales.

Silver Lake specialises in investing in technology companies, which it exploits in areas where there are growth potential. With such a high price tag, Silver Lake obviously sees potential, so the high street estate agent is perhaps not the only one who should be worried. Mortgages and conveyancing businesses are already changing, with automated artificial intelligence systems replacing traditional methods.

However, not all property related professionals are replaceable by robots. Surveyors, for instance, are commissioned by the purchaser to personally inspect a property. A building survey involves a detailed inspection of buildings, and the preparation of a report that is designed to address the specific needs and interests of the client.

The extent of inspection and the method of reporting will be agreed when the client instructs a surveyor to proceed and will be confirmed in the Conditions of Engagement; including such matters as specialist reports (e.g, focus on services, environmental aspects, etc). Guidance and detailed comment is given on individual defects, the cost of any repairs and any other aspects of concern.

Although a building survey is relevant for all types of modern buildings, it is particularly useful and informative for older structures, including “Listed Buildings”, and those which have been extended, or are used commercially, for flats and other premises with leasehold title or as a preliminary to the preparation of a Schedule of Condition.

If you are buying property in Wymondham or elsewhere in England and Wales, through an estate agent or online seller, ask a Property Surveying RICS Chartered Surveyor to conduct a survey on your behalf. Contact your local surveyor at


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