Most people already know that selling a house is not always a smooth process. But do you know it’s a whole different situation where Japanese knotweed is involved?
Japanese knotweed is a troublesome plant that can impede house sales, cost thousands of pounds in removal costs and waste lots of hours in legal cases. It also doesn’t help that the bloody plant is perennial.
Whether it’s been discovered in your plot or your neighbours’ garden, potential homebuyers will likely want to be informed. It’s also not unreasonable that they’ll wonder just how dangerous it is.
In this post, we talk in detail about Japanese knotweed, how it affects the sale of homes, and what options you have once you discover the bad boy is flourishing in your garden.
What is Japanese knotweed?
Japanese weed is a stout-shrub-like plant with broad oval leaves and a bamboo-like hollow stem with unique raised nodes. But it’s not related to bamboo at all. It has origins in Japan, China, Korea, and other East Asian countries, but it has established habitats in Europe and the Americas right now.
How to identify Japanese knotweed?
Japanese knotweed is a menace in the UK. It’s the most ubiquitous form of knotweed and has severe consequences on the property market. You can identify the pest using the following tips:
- Its flowers are of distinct creamy white colour and often form clusters that grow up to 10cm. When they dry around October, hollow bamboo-like stems remain behind.
- Japanese knotweed height is often between 3 and 9 feet
- Its leaves are shovel-shaped light green substances with flecks of red or purple.
- Its stem is green with speckles of green or purple.
Does Japanese knotweed damage a home?
Yes, Japanese knotweed can damage your home severely. It sprouts at the start of spring and grows faster and aggressively, crowding out other plants.
Japanese weed can be seen sprouting through cracks in pavements, car pack tarmacs, floorboards, and walls, often forming huge dense clamps that go up to 9 feet high and cover a wide area rendering the garden section unusable.
It can damage the driveways, walls, and fences. That’s because its rhizomes and roots exert pressure, causing weaknesses and cracks, which the plant exploits to spread into new areas.
The roots and rhizomes can also wreck and block drainage pipes and even lift the pipes out of the ground. It’s not friendly to cables and other underground infrastructures either.
Where you are most likely to find Japanese knotweed
How to tell if your house is at risk of Japanese weed? While it’s easy to confuse the pest with other plants, a few neighbourhood risk factors are high indicators of the shrub’s presence.
- The proximity of the property to a lake, canal, pond, culvert, or any other water source
- Proximity to large industrial buildings, storage depots, and workshop
- Car park tarmac, unused homes, or derelict land
If you are not confident in your perception skills, you can hire experts to check for your home’s weed presence. Indeed, some people have made a whole industry out of Britain’s most nuisance plant, helping homeowners eliminate it without mercy. Japanese knotweed removal firms can help you identify and eliminate the plant. You can also contract a trained RICS surveyor.
Selling a house with Japanese knotweed in the UK.
Can you sell a house with Japanese knotweed? Yes, you can sell a house with Japanese knotweed, but it won’t be easy. The plant is notorious for its devastating effects on the property market, leaving the government buried in Japanese Knotweed laws. Just a few years back, mortgage lenders wouldn’t even dare touch cases involving the perennial plant. It’s estimated that an infestation by the weed causes losses to up to 10%, if not more.
Difficulties you may experience when selling a house with Japanese knotweed.
If selling a house with Japanese knotweed is not something you’ve tried before, you’ll find it very challenging. Under UK law. The weed is a controlled plant. That means you have to watch out for it to keep it from spreading out of your garden. You also have to be transparent about the menace when selling the home. Examples of questions homeowners have about selling a house with Japanese knotweed problem include:
Do I have to declare Japanese knotweed to the buyer?
Yes, you have to declare the weed issue so the buyer can make an informed decision. Inform both your estate agent and potential buyers. You may not be aware that estate agents have to act according to consumer protection regulations and market a house in a way that represents its true value. If they’re found to be misrepresenting a house so as to drive up its price and a quick sale, they may be reported and even banned from the profession.
Failing to disclose the information on your part can also lead to lawsuits if the buyer discovers you intentionally hid the problem to trick them into buying the property. You may even end up paying more than the profit you got from the quick sale.
How much does Japanese knotweed devalue a property?
Considering the costs involved with its removal and repairing damaged areas, the weed can have a big impact on a house sale. Indeed, statistics reveal that 75 % of potential homebuyers won’t take a second look at a house with Japanese knotweed menace.
Statistics also indicate that the weed can devalue a home by up to 15% and sometiems more, resulting in a difference of up to thousands in pounds in the homeowner’s income from the sale. Usually, the devaluation is equal to the cost of eliminating the plant and restoring the home to its original value. In some cases of unchecked infestation, the house may be devalued completely.
How to sell a house with Japanese knotweed?
What are my options when selling a property with Japanese knotweed problems? If you’ve discovered Japanese knotweed in your property, just as you were about to sell, it doesn’t mean the end of prospects. Japanese knotweed is no longer the rogue agent it used to be. Most people are aware of it now, and there are ways to deal with it.
Don’t hide the information from potential buyers in an attempt to get a quick sale. Come clean about it, and try to use the following options to sell the house:
Ways to sell a house with Japanese knotweed problem:
An upfront sale
An upfront sale is where you disclose the weed menace to the buyer and take extra measures to ensure they are comfortable and likely to secure a mortgage from their lender. For example, you may offer to completely remove the plant or pay for an insurance-backed treatment plant before they purchase the house. However, it’s unlikely your insurance will cover the weed removal expenses; you may have to dip in your pocket for the job.
How to get rid of Japanese knotweed?
Getting rid of Japanese knotweed is not easy, but it can be done. Indeed, some people have made a career out of the Nuisance plant. Weed removal firms can provide solutions to eliminate the plant from your home.
However, before you start dealing with the weed, make sure to find its origins. It’s foolish to remove the plant in your home when it’s spreading in from your neighbour. That means an infestation is just a rhizome away.
Also, keep the receipts and a detailed report of the process, where it was done, and by who. Declare how big the infestation was too. Buyers will want this information to assure mortgage lenders.
The Cost of Japanese knotweed removal cost?
The cost of Japanese knotweed removal varies depending on the extent of the infestation. Most companies charge per square meter of the infested area. However, firms don’t use the same rate. Also, regardless of the cost, any treatment plan must include 10-year insurance to guarantee treatment will be completed even when the original removal firm no longer goes out of business.
Advantages of an upfront sale:
- If the buyer is aware of the weed problem and decides to go on with the purchase, they’ll be liable for its treatment and removal.
- Coming clean helps avoid lawsuits later.
Disadvantages of an upfront sale
- Some buyers may want to take advantage of the weed presence information and stifle you on the offer.
- There’s still a stigma surrounding weed Japanese knotweed infested properties, and a lot has to be done to prove the issue is under control to get a mortgage. Hence, they’ll not get the mortgage if the house sale fell through.
- The house will likely sell below its market value
- DIY weed removal solutions won’t be satisfactory -lending companies, buyers, and their solicitors only trust works done by professionals.
Selling at auction
If you cannot find an offer on the property market, consider listing the property at your local auction sale. Selling at an auction is a radical idea but assures results because it will be marketed continuously until it attracts an offer.
Advantages of selling a house with Japanese knotweed problem at auction include:
- Results are guaranteed because the house is advertised repeatedly until someone makes an offer on it.
- Agreements reached at auction sales are binding.
- In seasons of high demand, competitive bids may drive up the offer leading to a profitable sale.
Disadvantages of selling at auction
- In seasons of low demand, fewer bids may drive the price down, forcing you to sell at a loss.
- Not everyone likes the competitiveness of bidding processes; some buyers stay away from auctions because of it.
Selling a property with Japanese knotweed to an investor.
Another option to sell a house with Japanese knotweed is to get investors to make an offer on it. Investors are direct property buyers who pay upfront cash and acquire the properties to fix and rent or sell.
Advantages of selling to an investor:
- Investors buy houses infested with Japanese knotweed as they are. That means you don’t have to worry about fixing the house to look good, as in the case with an upfront sale.
- Stress-free negotiations -unlike mortgage buyers who will want to take advantage of the weed problem and make a cheeky offer, investors pay according to your home’s value.
- You can reach flexible terms of sale and even be allowed to continue staying in the home until you find a place of your own.
- No middlemen fees. It’s just you, your solicitor, and the investor.
- Quick sale – no waiting for banks to approve mortgage as is the case with mortgage buyers; this is a direct cash purchase.
- No risk of missed payments, as in the case with mortgage buyers when banks discontinue mortgages. Investors use their own cash.
Disadvantages of selling to an investor
- If the investor is not transparent, it’s hard to know what will become of your house. If the households sentimental values, try to determine the investor’s intentions before selling it to them.
- Investors may not pay the home’s full value; they may subtract an amount to cover the weed removal and treatment expenses.
That said, selling a house with a Japanese knotweed problem to an investor is the best option. You may not get its full price but will still get an offer on it, and that’s better than letting your product sit on the market and lose value after every sale that falls through.
How we can help
Are you looking to part with a house with Japanese weed menace? Give us a call to appraise your property and make an offer on it. Indeed, we are cash property buyers in the UK with plenty of experience buying properties in all conditions. We are transparent in our terms and always offer a fair price. Contact us today to find out how we can be of service.