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6th July 2000


British home owners have been exposed as the meanest of house movers admitting to penny-pinching tactics like stealing light bulbs to save themselves a mere six pounds*.

According to new research from, the premier web destination for buying, selling or renting property, four in ten buyers find themselves left in the dark by previous owners who go to extreme measures to save money.

In addition, a quarter (23 per cent) of new owners are - almost quite literally - shocked to discover that light fittings and fixtures have been removed exposing themselves and their families to potential danger. The worst offenders are those living in the Southeast, where one in seven respondents moved into homes without any light.

Other tight-fisted tactics adopted by sellers include taking door knobs, feature fire places and ceiling coving, reveals the study commissioned by to highlight the need to agree a legal inventory prior to purchase.

The survey unearthed one unlucky purchaser in Scotland, who was persuaded to buy a property because of its mature, well-stocked garden and was sickened to find a bare wasteland in the back yard because the seller had dug it up.

Mark Desvaux, managing director of, which created the online private sales market when it launched in 1996, said: "These days, people spend a lot of money on their gardens - laying decking, building water features, planting exotic shrubs and it is understandable if they choose to keep them. Unfortunately, if this was the main attraction for the buyer and it was not agreed in advance with the vendor, then the purchaser will be very disappointed. The solution is to always complete a detailed inventory list."

Another misfortunate mover was forced to enter his new home via the window as the previous vendors went on holiday with his front door knockers and house keys. Similarly, a new property owner in Southend crossed his new threshold to find that a cheap carpet had replaced the polished wooden floorboards he had carefully noted when viewing the property.

To combat these house-buying pitfalls, has introduced the House Spec, a comprehensive checklist for buyers and vendors to complete and agree before reaching the expensive solicitor negotiation level. It can be downloaded from the site, free of charge for homeowners selling direct via the Internet and also - significantly - for those selling through an estate agent.

Mark Desvaux said: "Estate agents are not involved in the legal aspects of buying or selling property. Therefore, the checklists are extremely useful since they can be used by both parties and passed to their respective solicitors to make them legally binding."

The survey reveals that it is not just what people take with them but also the legacy they leave behind that upsets buyers. One in ten movers questioned by complained they had been saddled with problem neighbours. The worst offenders are sellers in the Southeast, where nearly one in eight house sellers neglected to warn prospective purchasers about the nightmare next door.

Other unwanted items left behind includes shabby furniture (26%), used mousetraps (3%) and bad dog odour (2%). Less easy to dispose of were the fleas inherited by nearly one in five of those who took part in the survey.

Mark Desvaux said: "Our survey illustrates the absurdity of moving house the British way. Although, the average property price has soared to 84,000 signaling good news for sellers, we still go to ridiculous lengths to save a few pounds and risk incurring ill will. From the buyers perspective, a house purchase is probably the biggest procurement ever made, however the study reveals that we do not agree on really basic issues which could cost them dearly." -ends-

For further information, please contact:

Mark Desvaux, Managing Director

Tel: 0845 003 0720



Notes to Editor:

The House Spec Pack includes a Fixtures and Fittings Inventory Agreement and a House Hunters Viewing Kit which allows movers to detail aspects of the properties they have viewed including, the age of the house, double glazing, the cost of council tax, cost of building insurance etc. See:

*Light bulb cost based on an average three-bedroom house and a 45p light bulb. charges a flat fee of 40 (plus VAT) to advertise a property on the site. has launched a new Virtual Tour service called the V~Tour which provides a 360-degree, walk around video tour of sellers' homes. The premium V~Tour (199) service includes a virtual tour on the site, one photo, a property advert and a tour in e-mail format. The standalone tour in e-mail format is priced at 152

About (, the property portal, is the UK's premier web destination for anyone buying and selling or renting propert

Launched in May 1996, created the online private sales market for homeowners allowing them to directly sell on the Internet, saving an average of 4,200 in fees. The site also includes comprehensive guides covering everything from first mortgages to finding a dream home. Whether a first-time buyer or housing professional, is an indispensable resource packed with properties, information, news, advice, discussion forums, web directories and financial services. receives over 100,000 visitors each month and has won numerous awards and accolades, including 'Top Property Site' from Internet World. It is also featured in the Lycos and BBC Online Web guides. is owned by HouseWeb Ltd, a privately held company based in Cambridge, UK.

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