Over-Valuation of Property by Surveyors

Jan Samuel  20-12-2015

A recent case brought to the High Court involved the negligent over-valuation of a property by a surveyor. The purchaser had paid £390,000 for the property, but just two months later, a surveyor valued it as being worth £725,000.

After the borrower defaulted on their loan, it became apparent that there was an issue with the value of the property against which the loan had been raised. The lender started negligence proceedings against the firm of solicitors who had dealt with the conveyancing, and the surveyor who had over-valued the property.

The High Court found that the surveyor was responsible for overvaluing the property and there was little that could be raised by way of a defence. The Court also found that the firm of solicitors were equally liable with the surveyor. The firm of solicitors appealed to the Court of Appeal. 

The Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court, and confirmed that the solicitors owed the same duty of care to the lender, in relation to the negligent over-valuation, as the negligent surveyor. The Court of Appeal specifically stated that solicitors have a duty to report over-valuations to the lender. 

However, the Court of Appeal did not order the solicitors to pay damages to the lender. This was because the lender already had information which ought to have alerted them to the over-valuation of the property, and therefore it was not the negligence of the solicitor which had caused the lender's loss.  

This case highlights the importance of understanding the extent of a surveyor's duty of care to the purchaser of a property, or to the mortgage lender. It also demonstrates the solicitor's duty in a conveyancing transaction, as well as the importance of the knowledge of all parties at different points in a conveyancing transaction. 

Samuels Solicitors, based in Devon, have a niche specialism dealing with all types of professional negligence claims. We regularly bring claims against other solicitors who have made mistakes, surveyors who have valued properties wrongly, or have failed to identify the boundaries of properties properly, and accountants who have given negligent advice concerning tax and allowances.

If a professional has let you down, we understand that you may not have the funds to pursue a claim. This is why we have developed a range of flexible funding arrangements for clients with strong cases, which includes conditional (no win no fee) agreements where appropriate. 

If you have instructed a surveyor who valued your property wrongly, you may well be able to claim compensation, but you should speak to an expert solicitor first. 

If you have been advised badly by a solicitor, a surveyor, an accountant or another professional, contact us today for a no obligation discussion about how we can help. 

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