Sarah Beeney talks property problems

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In a recent interview with the Metro newspaper, Sarah Beeney talks about property problems from her recently aired programme that highlights property issues such as woodworm, rising damp, condensation and dry rot; as well other things such as being blamed for the recent housing crisis!

What are the most common property problems that you dealt with on Help! My House Is Falling Down?

Water is the main one as it gets into things and runs behind them. If you have a damp issue or see damp on walls, do not put your head in the sand and hope it will go away.

What were the worst things you saw on the show?

A house with tree roots that were out of control. Nature can always take a house down. If you have a leaking roof and the house is surrounded by trees, it won't take more than a couple of decades to get to the stage where it is falling down.

Is it difficult to keep property shows going in a recession?

Not really. We still need somewhere to live. The criteria for people might have changed - maybe they willll be able to afford a big house in a recession or want to downsize to have less risk but people still care about their homes.

Were you worried about making people paranoid?

The message was ‘do not be scared to take hold of property problems like woodworm or dry rot'. It is empowering - you live in the property, the property does not control you.

What's the worst thing you have dealt with in your property developing career?

Pretty much everything on the show I have had to deal with. We are doing a restoration of a listed building which makes the problems on this series look minute by comparison. A lot of big listed houses are in crisis because no one wants to take on the expense of sorting them out. Our heritage is important. It would be a shame if our generation let these buildings vanish.

Are you responsible for the current housing crisis?

Apparently, several people have accused me of it. While it is a compliment that people think I am so influential I do not think it is down to little old me. I suspect Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were not thinking: ‘I must not miss Property Ladder, I need to know what my interest rate policy will be.’ The criticism was I was encouraging people to purchase buy-to-lets. Maybe the odd person did but most just watched the show, thought ‘that looks fun’ and didn’t phone up for new mortgages the next day. I watch The X Factor but I don’t sign up for singing lessons and enter talent competitions.

Did you see any particularly crazy property purchases on the series?

Yes. The last series was quite painful. The valuations were not up to what people were hoping for. On previous series, participants might have made bad decisions but made money due to the general rise in house prices.

What advice would you give to first time property buyers?

Do not overstretch yourself. Try an area that does not appear quite so lovely and get something that is better value for money.

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