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Buying a New Home? Be aware of Caveat Emptor.

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In this blog article, Beth Abbott from our Conveyancing team demystifies the term ‘Caveat Emptor’, the principles of which are key when buying or selling a new home.

What does Caveat Emptor mean?

Put simply, Caveat Emptor is a Latin term that means ‘"let the buyer beware". In other words – it’s up to you to know what you are buying!

What has this got to do with buying a new home?

It means that it is largely the buyer’s responsibility to find out everything they want or need to know about their new home before contracts are exchanged and they become legally committed to buying the property. This includes physical and legal defects or issues with the property.

Isn’t it up to the seller to disclose any defects?

The seller’s duty to disclose any defects with the property only goes as far as the best of their knowledge. Surprisingly, the seller has no obligation to reveal any defects, although they must answer all queries about the condition of the property honestly, to avoid being sued for misrepresentation.

Buyer beware - Under the principle of Caveat Emptor, the buyer of a property cannot recover damages from the seller simply because the seller fails to disclose defects to the buyer.

What will my solicitor do?

At Fishers Solicitors we understand that buying your new home is usually the largest purchase a person will make in their lives.

Your solicitor will investigate the legal title for any rights of way, covenants, legal charges and defects that may affect your use and enjoyment of your new home and therefore its mortgage-ability.

What can I, as the buyer do?

We strongly recommend that you check for any defects within the property by way of survey, inspection and obtaining specialist reports where necessary.

One of the principles of Caveat Emptor means that it’s the buyer’s responsibility to carry out a reasonable inspection of the property to uncover any defects.

The buyer should satisfy themselves as to the state and condition of their potential new home, paying attention to boilers, fireplaces, log burners, electrics and other services within the property before giving authority to their solicitor or conveyancer to proceed to exchange of contracts. 

Once contracts have been exchanged there will be no opportunity for either party to withdraw from the purchase without extremely costly consequences. Your conveyancer will only proceed to exchange of contracts once they are completely satisfied with the legal title to the property.

If you have any queries about physical defects, you must bring these to the attention of your conveyancer so that they may advise you on how best to deal with any defects. It may be as simple as asking the seller a few more questions! Your conveyancer will rely upon the information you give them in relation to any physical defects, as they do not visit the property in person.

Your peace of mind

The experienced conveyancing team at Fishers Solicitors all strive to ensure that as a buyer, you have all of the relevant information you need before entering into a legally binding contract to purchase your future home.


More questions? Please contact Beth or another specialist in the residential homes team on 01530 412167. You can also email

Beth Abbott is a conveyancer in the residential homes department at Fishers Solicitors and has considerable experience in both freehold and leasehold property transactions.