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Buying or selling a home? How to choose the right survey for you

Let’s take a look at property surveys.  Depending which mortgage lender is being used, they may insist on the use of specific surveyors and the type of survey required.

If not, your financial adviser may be organise the survey for you or be able help you choose one who will provide you with peace of mind ensuring that you are made aware of the condition of the property and not exposed to any nasty surprises.

Why do you need a home survey?

Because forewarned is forearmed.  Choosing the right survey will help highlight any serious problems and advise you of the specific risks before you commit to the process of buying or selling a property.

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These surveys can only be conducted by qualified surveyors.  The reports carry the full weight of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – the UKs most respected authority on surveying.

Buying a home

It’s important to remember that your mortgage lender’s valuation report is not a survey.  It merely tells your lender whether or not the property has sufficient value to act as reasonable security for your loan.

A survey will tell you the actual condition of the property.  It’s vital information that can prove to be invaluable during price negotiations, and it will also help you avoid expensive surprises after you’ve moved in.

Selling a home

A home survey can help you prepare for selling your property.  It will show you any problems that may delay your sale or cause price reductions later in the process.

There are different types of surveys available - see below:

Condition Report

You could choose this report if you’re buying or selling a conventional house, flat or bungalow built from common building materials and in reasonable condition.  It focuses purely on the condition of the property by setting out the following:

  • Clear ‘traffic light’ ratings of the condition of different parts of the building, services, garage and outbuildings, showing problems that require varying degrees of attention;
  • A summary of the risks to the condition of the building;
  •  Other matters including guarantees, planning and building control issues for your legal advisers.

A Condition Report does not include a valuation, but your surveyor may be able to provide this as a separate extra service.  Further details available here >>

HomeBuyer Report

You could choose this report if you would like more extensive information whilst buying or selling a conventional house, flat or bungalow, built from common building materials and in reasonable condition.  It costs more than the Condition Report but includes:

  • All of the features in the Condition Report plus a more extensive inspection;
  • The surveyor’s professional opinion on the ‘Market Value’ of the property;
  • An insurance reinstatement figure for the property;
  • A list of problems that the surveyor considers may affect the value of the property;
  • Advice on repairs and ongoing maintenance;
  • Issues that need to be investigated to prevent serious damage or dangerous conditions;
  • Legal issues that need to be addressed before completing your conveyancing;
  • And information on location, local environment and the recorded energy efficiency (where available).

Further details available here >>

Building Survey (Formerly known as Structural Survey)

You could choose the building survey if you’re dealing with a large, older or rundown property, a building that is unusual or altered, or if you’re planning major works.  It costs more than the other surveys because it gives more detailed information about the structure and fabric of the property.

It includes:

  • A thorough inspection and detailed report on a wider range of issues;
  • A description of visible defects and potential problems caused by hidden flaws;
  • An outline of repair options and the likely consequences of inactivity;
  • Advice for your legal advisers and details of serious risks and dangerous conditions.

A building survey does not include a valuation, but your surveyor may be able to provide this as a separate extra service.  Further details available here >>

Source: RICS – Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.