Homebuyer's Reports and Surveys

Many buyers have a structural survey or homebuyer's report carried out before buying a home. You don't have to have one done, but it is a more detailed inspection than a valuation, which gives information about the condition of the property and any structural problems. If expensive repairs are needed, you may be able to get the seller to get the work done or pay less and use the money you save to get the work done after you buy.

Information from the seller

Sellers and estate agents don't have to point out any problems in the property to potential buyers. But if you ask direct questions (such as asking whether the roof leaks, or whether there have been problems with dampness or condensation) they have to answer your questions truthfully. If you go on to buy the property and discover that you were given false or misleading information, you might be able to take action. Get advice from a solicitor if you are in this situation.

The government had planned to pass new laws saying that sellers have to prepare a detailed 'sellers pack' before putting a property on the market. This was to include a valuation and a survey or homebuyer's report. This law has been withdrawn, but it could be put in place in future.

The purpose of a structural survey/homebuyer's report

This type of inspection assesses the condition of the property. Both are more detailed (and more expensive) than a valuation, but can save you a lot of money in the long run. They give you information about any structural or other defects in the property, such as dampness and condensation, subsidence or woodworm.

There are two types of inspection, which provide different levels of detail about the property. The type of inspection you decide to have may depend on:

  • what you can afford
  • the age of the property
  • whether it has been converted or extended

Homebuyer's reports are more detailed than a valuation, but less detailed than a full survey. They detect visible structural problems and give an indication of the general condition of the property.

The RICS homebuyer service is in a standard format and is designed specifically as an economical survey and is a cost-effective way to minimise risk. The homebuyer report focuses on essentials: defects and problems which are urgent or significant and thus have an effect on the value of the property. The homebuyer report, unlike a building survey, provides not only a survey but also a Valuation as an integral part of the service.

This type of report is much more detailed than the mortgage valuation, which most people choose to commission, and is normally instructed by house/flat buyers for their own use giving them a direct link with their own Chartered Surveyor. The surveyor's main objectives in providing the service are to give guidance on value and to assist the prospective home buyer to:

  • Make a reasoned and informed judgement on whether or not to proceed with the purchase.
  • Assess at what price it would be reasonable to purchase the property.
  • Be clear what decisions and actions should be taken before making an offer to purchase.

The surveyor will also give a professional opinion about the particular features of the property which affect its present value and may affect its future re-sale.

The report format is standard, compact, and easy to understand. It covers the building inside and outside, the services and the site. It focuses on the defects and other problems which the surveyor judges to be urgent or significant. It also covers:

  • General condition and particular features.
  • Particular points which should be referred to your legal advisors.
  • Other relevant considerations concerning, for example, safety, location or perhaps insurance.

The inspection report

Whichever type of inspection you go for we will assess the condition of the property you intend to buy, and produce a written report. The report should say exactly what areas have been inspected. The report may recommend that a specialist is hired to look at specific things such as heating and insulation. This will involve extra fees but may be worthwhile if there are potentially serious problems.

Problems with the report

Most surveys and homebuyer's reports will indicate that some repairs are needed. We try to point out the worst possible outcome of any problems we find, particularly if you are buying an older property. However, some repairs are relatively simple and inexpensive, so this doesn't necessarily mean that the property isn't worth buying. Read the report carefully.

However, the report may say that the property is in very poor condition and expensive repairs are needed. If this happens, you may decide that you want to negotiate a better deal before the sale becomes legally binding. If you have a solicitor, s/he can do most of the negotiation involved in this as part of preparing the legal contracts. However, this can take a long time and the seller may not agree to all of the changes you want.

Our Fees

Fees for surveys and homebuyer's reports are not refundable. How much you have to pay usually depends on the size, age and price of the property, and how detailed the inspection is. It may be possible to combine the lender's valuation with the survey or homebuyer's report. That way you only pay one set of fees. Email or phone us to get a quotation.