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What is a Homebuyers Survey Report?

By Maurice Shasha  //  Tue 3rd May 2022
A homebuyer's survey could reveal structural issues with the property, saving you from an expensive mistake or meaning you're well informed about the cost of repairs if you go ahead.
Homebuyers Survey
 

A Homebuyers Report is a survey to identify any problems with a residential property that would require immediate or future repairs.  It could reveal structural issues with the property, saving you from an expensive mistake or meaning you're well informed about the cost of repairs if you go ahead.

Buying a new home is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make. It is well worth getting a survey done to get a clear picture of what you are paying for.

Worryingly, one in five buyers fail to commission a survey, according to RICS. Of those that do, the majority choose a Homebuyer Report. Before you pay for a Homebuyers Survey, make sure you know what you will get for your money. Continue reading below to find out which is the best type of survey for your new home.

Types of homebuyer survey

If you're buying in England, the main accredited body for property surveyors is the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Alternative accreditors are Sava or the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA). Property surveyors linked to these organisations will offer slightly different reports.

Survey Level 1 -  RICS Condition Report

A RICS condition report is an entry-level report which provides you with a traffic light rating system to indicate the condition of the property and highlights any major issues that need correcting urgently or require further investigation. These reports are generally brief and don’t go into specific detail.

Survey Level 2 – RICS HomeBuyer Report

A RICS homebuyer report is an intermediate level visual survey which reports on anything that is visibly accessible from the property. In addition to the information provided in a Condition Report, they will also provide information relating to issues that may impact the value of the property, issues that may breach building regulations and advice on repairs and maintenance. If the issues are not visibly evident then this survey level won’t necessarily identify any concealed structural issues.

Survey Level 3 - RICS Building Survey

A RICS Building Survey is extremely thorough and will provide a comprehensive breakdown of the condition and structure of the property. The surveyor will complete a physical inspection of the property rather than a visual survey. It will report on any issues with the property, and you can also request guidance on potential repair costs and timings.

New Build Snagging Survey

A Snagging Survey is a visual inspection of new build properties. It can identify any cosmetic issues right through to any major structural concerns. Whilst you can create your own snagging list when moving into your new home, a professional may pick up on any issues that you haven’t even noticed. Having a professional report may also strengthen your case if you have any issues getting repairs done by the developers.

What type of property is a Homebuyers Survey for?

A Homebuyers Survey is suitable for any residential property – from a flat to a house. But it is most suited to properties built less than 50 years ago that have not been renovated and appear to be in good condition with no apparent signs of damage.

For older properties or those that have been extended, a Building Survey may be a better option as it will uncover more hidden issues.

For a new-build or nearly new properties, a condition report would probably suffice.

What's covered in a HomeBuyers Report?

The surveyor will inspect all visible and accessible aspects of the property's exterior and interior, including the roof, walls, ceilings, bathroom, kitchen, loft space, and outbuildings. The guttering, windows and doors, heating, drainage and water services will also be inspected.

It does have limitations, though; the surveyor will not look behind furniture or lift flooring. It may be supplied with caveats, limiting the surveyor's liability, which could be an issue if you do later discover a significant problem.

The surveyor will provide an estimated cost of rebuilding the property for insurance purposes. Some Homebuyer Reports include a market valuation for the property. If the report reveals a lower price than that estimated by your lender's mortgage valuation, then you may be in a position to revise your offer.

You mustn’t confuse a Homebuyer report with a mortgage valuation. A mortgage valuation survey is for the benefit of the lender to estimate the value of the property whereas a Homebuyer survey is for the buyer to check the condition of the property.

How much does a Homebuyers Survey cost?

The cost depends on the type and size of the property. Prices start at around £290 but can be as high as £1,390 for a large home.

How long does a Homebuyers Survey take?

A Homebuyers Survey can take anything between 2-4 hours to complete. You should then expect to wait around 3-5 working days for the report to be produced.

What does a Homebuyers Report look like?

A Homebuyers Survey Report is presented using a traffic light system to indicate the condition of each aspect of the property. Green means no repairs are needed, and red meaning urgent attention is required. The report is written in a way that makes it easy to understand without complex jargon to decipher.

Below is a summary of what each of the traffic light statuses means.

  • Green (Condition Rating 1) - indicates that the area referenced needs no repairs and has no areas of concern. These should continue to be maintained in a normal manner.
  • Amber (Condition Rating 2) - highlights areas with defects that need repairing or replacing but are not considered urgent. These areas are unlikely to impact the property's overall value but are likely to need some additional maintenance or repair in time.
  • Red (Condition Rating 3) - highlights defects that need severe or urgent repair and need to be replaced or investigated immediately. These are the areas that should be seriously considered as part of the overall purchase. They may be areas that make the purchase void, or they may be areas that warrant re-negotiation based on potential repair cost.

Pros & Cons: Condition, Homebuyers, Building Survey

There are several different survey levels that can be used on your property. Here is a brief summary of the pros and cons of each type of survey offered by RICS.

Condition Report

Pros

  • Great for new-builds or nearly new homes
  • Would pick up any severe defects

Cons

  • Very basic survey and doesn't go into any detail
  • It doesn't include any advice on repairs and maintenance

Homebuyers Survey

Pros

  • Great for standard properties in reasonable condition
  • Affordable and reasonable in-depth

Cons

  • Only visible areas that can be easily accessed are surveyed
  • It doesn't include the estimated cost of repairs

Buildings Survey

Pros

  • The most thorough survey you can get. Great for older homes, those that have been renovated or built in an unconventional way
  • Includes photographs, costing and timelines for required repairs

Cons

  • It can take up one day to complete
  • An expensive option

Is a Homebuyers Survey Worth It?

This is the most common question amongst home buyers, especially in London. With so many costs to account for, from stamp duty to solicitors fees, many wonder if the additional cost of a survey on the home is worth it.

However, make this saving, and you may live to regret it. If you end up buying a place that you didn't realise has a roof that needs replacing or has terrible damp issues, it could end up costing thousands to put right.

You can also use the report to negotiate on price or ask the vendor to make the repairs before buying the property. For example, if the property needs a new roof costing £5,000, you could reduce your offer by this amount.

Homebuyer Report or Building Survey

If you are wondering ‘should I get a Homebuyer Report or a Building Survey?’, we advise that you consider the age, type of property and condition of the property when making a decision. A Homebuyer Report (Level 2) is better for well-maintained, conventional homes that are less than 80 years old. If the home you are considering buying is over 80 years old, has undergone major renovation work or has clearly been neglected, it would be better to get a Building Survey (Level 3).

If you're looking to buy in Central London, Plaza Estates is a leading independent estate agent. We can advise you about which survey to opt for and tell you more about our portfolio of outstanding properties. Contact us today. 

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