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Home Buyer Survey

By Maurice Shasha  //  Thu 2nd February 2017
Buying a home in London? Our home buyer survey guide explains the differences between a Condition Report, HomeBuyer Report and a Building Survey.
3 types of home buyer survey
The lifestyle benefits that purchasing a home in central London deliver include living in a truly global city noted for its political stability, world-class universities and financial services, not to mention the UK capital’s reputation as a cultural and entertainment hub.

From Kensington & Chelsea in the south to St John’s Wood on the north-west side of Regent’s Park, London is also noted as a retail centre.

The range of goods and services on offer in London, from Fendi handbags at Harrods and diamonds from Hatton Garden to a luxury spa experience in Mayfair, puts London head and shoulders above New York and Paris when it comes to retail choice.

Every product or service purchased in London’s luxury stores is covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This powerful piece of legislation allows consumers to claim for a refund, repair or replacement if what is paid for fails to meet the following three standards…

• Satisfactory quality
• Fit for purpose
• As described

If a service isn't provided ‘with reasonable care and skill’ or ‘as agreed’, the provider must bring it into line with what was agreed with the customer. If this isn't practical, such as when a haircut’s too short, they must give some money back.

For goods and services bought online, your rights are the same as if you’d bought the product or service from a shop or other seller, except that your right to make a claim starts when you receive the item.

Why do I need a survey?

Despite property for sale in Marble Arch, for example, being on the market for at least £450,000, the Consumer Rights Act does not apply to house or flat purchases.
Why? Legislation mostly gives protection for consumers buying goods and services from traders. Homes are not legally classed as goods and most properties are purchased directly from a private owner, who is not therefore a trader.

This helps explain why one of the most common questions home buyers put to our sales professionals is: What type of survey should I have?

This comprehensive guide for anybody purchasing residential property in central London examines the differences between a Mortgage Valuation, Condition Report, HomeBuyer Report and a Building Survey.

Mortgage Valuation/ Condition Report

Many homebuyers who use a mortgage to help fund their property purchase in Knightsbridge or other parts of prime central London believe their lender’s standard valuation provides all the protection they need.

In the majority of cases, they are mistaken.

Mortgage valuations typically take 15-30 minutes to complete and are designed to give enough information for the lender to decide whether the property is safe to advance money on, and up to what amount.

Designed to complement the mortgage valuation, a Condition Report provides traffic light-style indications as to the state of various parts of the property. Green means everything is OK, orange is some cause for concern and red means serious repairs are vital.

This type of survey also provides buyers with a summary of risks to the building, but does not include any advice or a valuation.

Unless you are purchasing a new-build home that comes with a 10-year warranty, property purchasers are better off commissioning a Building Survey or HomeBuyer Report.

HomeBuyer Report

Typically cheaper than a Building Survey, a HomeBuyer Report is best suited for conventional homes that were built no more than 150 years ago and appear to be in reasonable condition.

While the RICS-qualified surveyor will not carry out an in-depth analysis of the property, a HomeBuyer Report will include details of

• The valuation of the house or apartment on the open market
• Information about location
• The estimated cost of rebuilding the property for insurance purposes
• An assessment of any drainage or damp-proofing in the building
• The condition of the building’s timbers and whether rot or woodworm is present
• Damp test results
• Information about urgent problems that should receive attention from a specialist
• Details of faults in easy-to-access parts of the property that could affect its value

The advantage of a HomeBuyer Report is it will bring to the attention of the property buyer any aspect of the house or apartment that may currently be causing a problem or is likely to require repair in the future.

Building Survey

A Building Survey is the most comprehensive survey available for residential homes and will provide a detailed evaluation of a property’s condition.
Also known as a Structural Survey, a Building Survey is carried out by a chartered surveyor regulated by the RICS who will produce a report that describes the condition of each element of the property. The surveyor will actively search for any structural problems or defects.

This means a Building Survey is best suited for purchasers of older homes that have either undergone renovation or are in need of major work.

Unlike a HomeBuyer Report, Building Survey reports do not have a standard format, which means the surveyor can tailor the investigation to suit a property purchaser’s needs. However, the report will not include a valuation of the property or estimate the cost of rebuilding the home.

A Building Survey report will typically include details of

• All defects in a property and its general structural integrity
• The results of tests for damp in the walls
• Woodworm, dry rot and other damage to timbers
• The condition of existing insulation and damp-proofing
• Information on the materials used to build the property and some additional technical information
• Recommendations for further investigations on the property

Due to a Building Survey involving an in-depth investigation of a property’s condition, it can take up to a day to complete and the final report can take up to two weeks to receive.

However, by digging much deeper into the current state of the property and its past history, a Building Survey can also uncover any structural problems with the property that would otherwise go unnoticed.

For expert help finding your perfect property in central London, contact Plaza Estates today.

Offices at

Marble Arch
29 Edgware Road
W2 2JE
f: 020-7258-3090
34 Beauchamp Place
f: 020-7581-7005